A report published in the American Heart Journal has said that prayers do not seem to have any effect in the well being of patients who recently underwent cardiac bypass surgery. On the contrary, prayers seemed to adversely impact some of the patients who thought that their condition was far worse than thought.
The study, which was funded by the John Templeton Foundation and the Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp, tracked the progress of 1,800 cardiac bypass surgery patients of whom 65 percent believed strongly in the power of prayer. Two Catholic monasteries and one Protestant prayer group took up the task of praying for these patients, who were divided into three groups. The first group was told that someone was praying for their recovery, while the other two were told that someone "might" pray for them. It was found that the group, which was told that some prayers were being said for them, had greater complications from the bypass than the other two groups. "We cannot come to a conclusion, except to say that by this study design, with its limitations, this is what we found. Nothing this study has produced should interfere with people praying for each other," said lead author Dr Herbert Benson, of Harvard Medical School. He added that the study was inconclusive. "Intercessory prayer under our restricted format had a neutral effect," said Dr Charles Bethea, a co-author of the study from the Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. "We conclude that telling people introduces the stress response. It may have made them (wonder) 'Am I so sick that they had to call in the prayer team?' One conclusion from this is that the role of awareness of prayer should be studied further."