Article

Are There Demonstrable Effects of Distant Intercessory Prayer? A Meta-Analytic Review

Department of Psychology, Syracuse University, NY 13244-2340, USA.
Annals of Behavioral Medicine (Impact Factor: 4.2). 09/2006; 32(1):21-6. DOI: 10.1207/s15324796abm3201_3
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

The use of alternative treatments for illness is common in the United States. Practitioners of these interventions find them compatible with personal philosophies. Consequently, distant intercessory prayer (IP) for healing is one of the most commonly practiced alternative interventions and has recently become the topic of scientific scrutiny.
This study was designed to provide a current meta-analytic review of the effects of IP and to assess the impact of potential moderator variables.
A random effects model was adopted. Outcomes across dependent measures within each study were pooled to arrive at one omnibus effect size. These were combined to generate the overall effect size. A test of homogeneity and examination of several potential moderator variables was conducted.
Fourteen studies were included in the meta-analysis yielding an overall effect size of g = .100 that did not differ from zero. When one controversial study was removed, the effect size reduced to g = .012. No moderator variables significantly influenced results.
There is no scientifically discernable effect for IP as assessed in controlled studies. Given that the IP literature lacks a theoretical or theological base and has failed to produce significant findings in controlled trials, we recommend that further resources not be allocated to this line of research.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Glen Spielmans
  • Source
    • "We decided not to include some studies on intercessory prayer given its major and intractable methodological flaw, namely, that receipt of prayer cannot be controlled and therefore it is impossible to ascertain to what degree individuals in the control groups were actually the recipients of the “intervention” from loved ones, family members, clergy, or others, besides the research intercessors. For further reading, consult the recommended literature [24]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Spiritism is the third most common religion in Brazil, and its therapies have been used by millions worldwide. These therapies are based on therapeutic resources including prayer, laying on of hands, fluidotherapy (magnetized water), charity/volunteering, spirit education/moral values, and disobsession (spirit release therapy). This paper presents a systematic review of the current literature on the relationship among health outcomes and 6 predictors: prayer, laying on of hands, magnetized/fluidic water, charity/volunteering, spirit education (virtuous life and positive affect), and spirit release therapy. All articles were analyzed according to inclusion/exclusion criteria, Newcastle-Ottawa and Jadad score. At present, there is moderate to strong evidence that volunteering and positive affect are linked to better health outcomes. Furthermore, laying on of hands, virtuous life, and praying for oneself also seem to be associated to positive findings. Nevertheless, there is a lack of studies on magnetized water and spirit release therapy. In summary, science is indirectly demonstrating that some of these therapies can be associated to better health outcomes and that other therapies have been overlooked or poorly investigated. Further studies in this field could contribute to the disciplines of Complementary and Alternative Medicine by investigating the relationship between body, mind, and soul/spirit.
    Full-text · Article · May 2011 · Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • Source
    • "Bluemke, & Unkelbach, 2009; Martin, 1986; Sparrow & Wegner, 2006). Together, these findings suggest that the role of priming processes may be limited in everyday religious behavior, given that many religious practices require the conscious and active involvement of individuals. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Although some religious teachings have been used to justify aggression, most religious teachings promote peace in human affairs. Three experiments tested the hypothesis that praying for others brings out the more peaceful side of religion by reducing anger and aggression after a provocation. In Experiment 1, praying for a stranger led provoked participants to report less anger than control participants who thought about a stranger. In Experiment 2, provoked participants who prayed for the person who angered them were less aggressive toward that person than were participants who thought about the person who angered them. In Experiment 3, provoked participants who prayed for a friend in need showed a less angry appraisal style than did people who thought about a friend in need. These results are consistent with recent evolutionary theories, which suggest that religious practices can promote cooperation among nonkin or in situations in which reciprocity is highly unlikely.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin
  • Source
    • "A coding error may have occurred regarding the Mathai and Bourne (2004) sample size that would have reduced the magnitude of the overall effect size. Instead of the correct sample size of 36, the meta-analysis reported the sample size as 336 (Masters et al., 2006). Hopefully, this was just a typographical error. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Practitioners receive little guidance regarding the use of spiritual interventions such as intercessory prayer during their graduate educational programs. Yet—for better or worse—a surprisingly high percentage of social workers appear to pray verbally with, and/or silently for, their clients. Drawing from an evidence-based perspective, this article attempts to determine (1) if prayer and other forms of positive mental energy should be used in practice settings and (2) if informed consent should be obtained prior to engaging in silent prayer for clients. The evidence suggests, respectively, an equivocal answer and a tentative negative. For practitioners that believe the present research supports the use of prayer, guidelines are provided to help ensure that the practice is conducted in an ethical manner that safeguards client autonomy.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2010 · Smith College Studies in Social Work
Show more