The Power of Prayer

The biggest support for the power of prayer is coming from medical research! Science is proving the effectiveness of prayer, beyond what anyone expected. Not only are researchers finding that prayer affects humans, it affects bacteria, seeds, plants, and mice! Since these would all seem to be beyond the influence of religious faith, the question naturally arises: Just what is the true power in prayer? How can one’s prayers affect the growth of bacteria and seeds, or even mice?

Prayer results are just as amazing in human studies. In a 1988 study by Dr. Randolph Byrd at San Francisco General Hospital, 393 coronary care patients receiving prayer with their medical care suffered significantly less congestive heart failure, fewer cardiopulmonary arrests, used fewer antibiotics and diuretics, and had less pneumonia.

In a 1998 study at California Pacific Medical Center, a double-blind study revealed profound effects from “distant healing prayer” with advanced AIDS patients. They survived in greater numbers, got sick less often, and recovered faster than those not receiving prayer.

An amazing study published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine showed how prayer could help even those who did not know they were being prayed for. The study was conducted at Columbia University in New York City on women having difficultly becoming pregnant. They found that even though the women did not know they were being prayed for, 50{b8199d4e76d5c4c4a9fa89ec04f495f77a40e6e04d2b7b455e3b26e8fd6a6d2e} of the prayed-for group became pregnant as opposed to only 26{b8199d4e76d5c4c4a9fa89ec04f495f77a40e6e04d2b7b455e3b26e8fd6a6d2e} of the control group that was not prayed for.

Larry Dossey, a well-known doctor in Dallas and author of several books on prayer, says that prayer’s power lies in one’s thoughts and intentions. This type of prayer is amenable to study because, once emitted, it should cause its intended effects. He explains that as humanity becomes more aware of the universal mind, which is a “non-local mind” that is infinite and immortal, in which we all have our existence, then healing will be more common and “we could become a kinder, gentler culture.” Any prayerful intention and thought from one local-mind to another has an impact upon that other because we are connected. Nonlocal mind leads to what he calls “the Golden Rule of Era III of medicine and healing: ‘Do good unto others because they are you!’ Why? Because nonlocal mind is unlimited and boundless, which means that minds can’t be walled off from each other. In some sense, at some level, we are each other.”

Edgar Cayce’s readings would certainly agree with this view. There is one collective mind out of which we are all projections; local minds, to use Dossey’s terms. But we can easily move into the nonlocal mind of the Whole, the Universal, and from there we are all one and can affect one another positively, or for that matter, negatively as well. As we saw in the article on Mind, every thought makes an impression upon this collective mind, an impression that Cayce was able to read long after the thought had been created. Prayer for others makes just such an impression. One of my friends shared how he believes that prayers are like gifts set upon a shelf, which the other person can open any time. Cayce once had a vision of a room filled with gift packages stacked to the ceiling. When he got a reading on this imagery, he was told that these were things that people stopped praying for. Their prayers had created them, but before they could be delivered, the prayers ended, and here they sat. Prayer is creative power. Patience and trust are the UPS and FedEx of prayer gifts.

Prayer is so effective that Cayce often said, “Why worry when you can pray?” Worry will accomplish nothing. Prayer, as even science is finding out, works. It influences situations, people, and outcomes. However, outcomes are best left in the hands of God. Dossey found that all prayer was effective, but surprisingly, non-specific prayer was more effective than specific, petitioning prayer — which is the way most of us were taught to pray. It seems that if we simply pray for the best for the other person, our prayers are more effective. This could be because it allows the karma and free-will desires of the other person to play a role in his or her own healing. Projecting what we believe is best for that person is not as effective as allowing God and the person to find what’s best for his or her disposition, destiny, and growth.

In one of his readings for a reincarnated healer who used prayer to heal, Cayce said that she knew how “spiritual life may affect the physical bodies of people through the power of prayer and meditation, as many were brought to the body’s presence for healing in their afflictions; and the body then, through its own efforts, learned again those discernments of who, how, where, the efforts of individuals aided one rather than another – see?” Clearly, we can play a major role in helping others with prayer and meditation, but the dynamics underlying other people’s situations also play a role in their wellness, and we must use discernment to better understand how many ways help may come.

In my own experience, all prayer is helpful. The outcome is in God’s hands, but prayer always helps. I’ve seen its potency repeatedly. One of Cayce’s readings that stuck with me was his admonition to “Pray ceaselessly.” It’s living in prayerfulness; not piously so, just prayerful in all situations.

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