Is Prayer Good for Your Health? A Critique of the Scientific Research (Heritage.org)

Heritage.org: STUART M. BUTLER: What does the evidence show in terms of the connection between religious practice and other characteristics of our society: poverty, welfare, health? Also, what might be the implications of this research and analysis, if any, for public policy? These are the objectives of this Center, and we are very pleased it pulls together a lot of the work that we have been doing in various parts of the Foundation for some years and gives it a focus.

Our event today is to explore the relationship–again, I say if any–between religious practice and personal health and recovery from illness. Hence the provocative title: “Is Prayer Good for Your Health?”

Most people have fairly strong views about this one way or the other, and generally speaking, most people at some point in their lives or in their religious practice do at least call for some assistance for their recovery or the recovery of their friends. In our synagogue, we say the misheberach, which calls for physicians to be as skillful as they possibly can be in dealing with people who are ill, and calls for those who are ill to have the strength to deal with their illness.

This kind of calling for assistance from God is a very common feature of all religions, and for all of us, even if we’re only mildly religious, generally speaking, there is a point in our lives where we call in that way. Also, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence in the medical profession and elsewhere about remarkable occurrences that people have seen in their medical practice or in their personal lives…

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