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Kevin Masters and Glen Spielmans reviewed the empirical research on distant intercessory prayer and health in 2007, their study; ‘Prayer and Health: Review, Meta-Analysis, and Research Agenda’ was published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

“Intercessory prayer is simply defined as prayer said on behalf of someone else. It could occur in the presence of the other person, as often happens during religious ceremonies such as the laying on of hands, or could be said from a distance, i.e., without the presence of the person who is the object of the prayer. The scientific literature has focused on distant intercessory prayer and has utilized methodologies specifically designed to rule out the possible influence of psychological variables or placebo effects. Consequently, all of these studies used patient blinding procedures and the body of studies is characterized by the use of double-blinding that left the subjects/patients, treating physicians, and other health care workers unaware of what condition (prayer vs. no-prayer) the patients were in” (Masters & Spielmans, 2007, p. 330).

After analysing 15 scientific studies, they concluded that “there is no scientifically discernable effect for distant intercessory prayer on health and that several potential moderating variables, [random assignment to conditions, daily versus less frequent prayer, duration of the prayer intervention] in fact, do not moderate the results” (Masters & Spielmans, 2007, p. 331).



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