Prayer Study Criticized

Recent Commentary in Science and Theology argues that studies of prayer as an "alternative health" modality are misguided.

According to "Prescribed prayer lacks punch," the Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer, also known as STEP, the latest controlled study examining prayer with cardiac patients (using a sample of 1,802 cardiac bypass patients from six hospitals), takes the wrong approach.

The commentator,coauthor of Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, to be released by Zondervan in a revised and expanded edition in late 2006, argues:

"Research should move away from trying to test prayer as a "therapy" that can be packaged into a controlled intervention. Such an approach is demeaning to the spiritual traditions that cherish prayer, especially the personal aspects of prayer. Prayer is not a therapy to be used just when needed. It is an intimate expression of a personal relationship between a person and God, a God who loves and cares for them."