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Theodore A. Hoppe


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Is prayer a form of placebo or is there evidence of divine intervention in the answering of prayers?

It was recently suggested to me that I conduct an experiment on whether prayer "works." The suggestion was that I keep a journal , direct my prayers to Jesus, and keep track of whether my prayers get answered. This is hardly qualities as an experiment in a scientific sense, but it does raise interesting questions.
My question, which prompted the suggestion, was "Which god would one pray to since every religion has (or has had) a god(s)." Clearly, people pray to all gods, and they might even claim their prayers get answered.
Considering this question further seems to indicate that there must be a mental aspect to prayer, irrespective of religions.

Therefore, this is not a debate about religion, rather it is a discuss about the brain and the mind, and whether a placebo effect is a part of praying.
Why does prayer "seem" to work?
Hopefully, this debate can explore praying in a scientific way.


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    Jan 17 2013: If people could stop thinking of prayer as communicating "to Jesus" maybe we could find out if this is a human phenomena and what and how humans can facilitate health and well being with the use of prayer.

    Prayer can encompass everything from talking to Jesus on your knees with hands folded before bedtime with children, to indigenous and aboriginal dance and song to meditation to mind altering plants. Instinctively many of us know that there is a spiritual aspect to being human and we know that people access that spirituality in different ways. If prayer is some type of conduit, we need to study all the conduits that can be understood as prayer to figure out how it works.

    We don't know what is happening because everyone has such a narrow view of what prayer is. There is no way to determine a placebo effect because no one has defined prayer outside of the traditional Judeo-Christian concept.

    Like I always say, it's not about the answer, it's about asking the right question.
    • Jan 19 2013: There have been some experiments on the value of prayer, however they were attempting the measure the effect of prayer on another person being prayed for.
      I am not convinced of the controls for that study, but it showed no impact of prayer vs non prayer.
      The impact that prayer has as a placebo effect is on the person doing the prayer. That, I don't believe has been studied specifically, however a number of studies done on humor to assist in healing, etc have shown some positive results.
      One might have asked the question, does watching the three stooges present a placebo effect.
      That would stimulate fewer trolls and probably give you the same answer.
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      Jan 20 2013: To respond to something specific you said, this speaker mentioned how "allah" was chanted in ancient muslim cultures when they saw the sublime, undefinable inspiration in dancers. They would clap their hands and chant "allah, allah, allah" - "god, god, god." Later, that found its way into the muslim cultures in Spain, where, when fighting bulls, they would chant "ole, ole, ole" - a word rooted in 'Allah.'

      Video here: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html

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