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Editor's Correspondence
June 24, 2002

Can the Efficacy of Prayer Be Tested?

Arch Intern Med. 2002;162(12):1420. doi:

Drs Chibnall, Jeral, and Cerullo are to be congratulated for their thoughtful discussion in "Experiments on Distant Intercessory Prayer: God, Science, and the Lesson of Massah."1 As a conservative Christian and a physician who has conducted many clinical trials, I have found such studies to be greatly flawed, not only on scientific bases, but also on several theological bases. First, the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6). If this is true, then a study using prayers to a multitude of gods, spirits, etc is doomed to failure. Second, how can one offer sincere prayer without some type of personal concern for the object of the prayer? Third, such studies imply that God is forced to respond positively to the prayers that are offered. If so, He is not God but merely the servant of the suppliant. Fourth, can God be expected to respond to the prayers of all people equally, regardless of their belief or obedience to His commands? This is certainly not a Judeo-Christian concept. Last, the purpose of Judeo-Christian prayer is more than receiving that which is requested. Indeed, God's answer in His divine wisdom may be no.