Does Prayer Work in a Crisis?

May 4, 2020

Dr. Larry Dossey in his book “Prayer Is Good Medicine” takes a look at what research in the medical field has turned up regarding the healing effects of prayer.  He asks us to keep in mind the following scientific facts as we pray for others and ourselves.

In the past 35 years, more than 130 controlled laboratory studies show that prayer, or a prayer like state of compassion, empathy and love can bring about healthful changes in those being prayed for.  Prayers have been tested like a new medicine might be.  Here is just one example.

A study was done of 393 patients in the coronary care unit of San Francisco General Hospital.  Prayer groups in various parts of the United States were asked to pray for sick individuals assigned to a “treatment” group; no one prayed for those in the control group.  Except for prayer, all patients received the same high-tech therapy.  No patients, no doctors and no nurses knew who was being prayed for.

The results of this study found that the prayed-for patients did significantly better on several outcome measures.  Distance was not found to be a factor and prayer is not some form of energy that is sent and received.

Dr. Dossey reminds us that when we investigate prayer scientifically we can only show that it works, not how or why it works.  This does not mean that prayer always works, any more than drugs and surgery always work, but that, statistically speaking, prayer is effective.

Prayer works but always add “Thy will be done!” to any intercessory or petitionary prayer you say especially during this time of pandemic.



  • JanicePosted on 5/19/20

    Jeanne, thanks for posting this information from Dr. Dossey's book. It is interesting and comforting to know that the benefits of prayer are validated by the medical community in this study. Our family was praying for my brother-in-law who suffered from a stroke recently. Prayer also is a benefit to family and friends in a way that makes them feel helpful rather than helpless in a time of sadness.