In the most widely publicized studies of the effect of intercessory prayer, cardiologist Randolph Byrd studied 393 patients admitted to the coronary-care unit at San Francisco General Hospital. Some were prayed for by home-prayer groups, others were not. All the men and women got medical care. In this randomized, double-blind study, neither the doctors and nurses nor the patients knew who would be the object of prayer.
The results were dramatic and surprised many scientists. The men and women whose medical care was supplemented with prayer needed fewer drugs and spent less time on ventilators. They also fared better overall than their counterparts who received medical care but nothing more. The prayed-for patients were: Significantly less likely to require antibiotics (3 patients versus 16) Significantly less likely to develop pulmonary edema-a condition in which the lungs fill with fluid because the heart cannot pump properly (6 versus 18). Significantly less likely to require insertion of a tube into the throat to assist breathing (0 versus 12). Less likely to die.
Before I retired I worked for a hospital, and we actually had an employee program where a doctor spoke to us about the beneficial effects of prayer. He cited studies such as the one mentioned above and he prayed with his patients.
What do you think about this study? Does prayer work?