March 30, 2006
by: jovial_cynic
My good friend luke brought an AP article to my attention. The topic -- Prayer, or rather the powerlessness of it.

It's an interesting article -- it's based on a study that demonstrated that prayer really doesn't do anything good for folks who are getting heart surgury. In fact, folks who knew they had prayer coverage did worse. "59 percent of the patients who knew they were being prayed for developed a complication."

It's a weird find, really... but the test itself was even more weird. Researchers spent $2.4 million to have strangers essentially pray a scripted prayer (noted from this MSNBC article). The vounteers prayed for "a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications," for people -- people they only knew by a first name and a last initial.

Last I checked, scripted prayers -- used like magic incantations from goofy television shows -- aren't really what the bible is talking about. Neither the Lord's prayer, nor the "sinner's prayer" (not actually found in the bible, by the way) are imbued with some special miracle-working powers, but rather are set as patterns by which we can organize our thoughts when we approach God with our prayers. They help remind us not to pray foolishly for things that we aren't going to get, lest we frustrate ourselves with vain attempts at wish-making.

In any event... I shall continue to pray.
np category: religion


Clem said:
History Channel has a documentary series named History's Mysteries. One of the episodes is entitled 'Superstition'. On that episode I learned that superstitious people are often highly intelligent individuals. However, they have an odd way of coping with the myriad random variables in our world that cause negative effects on their own lives. They perform compulsive routines in the belief that such actions ward off those random causes of negative experience. It gives them a sense of control. For example, professional athletes and coaches commonly repeat some ritual before each beginning of their sports events.

So then it dawned on me that my (Pentecostal) Christian friends typically pause to pray at the beginnings of their various endeavors in order for those endeavors to go smoothly. And, as you recall in the documentary 'Jesus Camp' that's exactly what the camp director did before they completed the AV setup in the camp's auditorium.

From these observations I deduce that if one believes that God often actively intervenes in one's life, then it can lead to superstitious behavior.

September 04, 2009

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