THE POWER OF PRAYER
...Do You Need Proof That It Works?
When Jesus taught what we commonly call "The Lord's Prayer," He obviously did not have
twenty-first century science to use as proof. Frankly, He did not need it! He was living proof
that prayer works!
In fact, the Bible relates what happened after the Master completed the Sermon on the
Mount. Even His teaching on the subject overwhelmed those who heard Him: “And it came to
pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For
he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).
Today, while it is important to share the Word with the authority given by God, we also have
credible, scientific proof that prayer works!
Read Josh McDowell’s The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. Most Christian bookstores
have this powerful book along with others which can help you understand that the Word is not just
good literature or a reliable historical artifact.
It is God-breathed: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect,
throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
With that in mind, it is always nice when the world catches up with the Word. And while I do not
know much about the participants, researchers, or medical personnel who have been involved,
nor can I vouch for the methods, it is apparent that even leading secular professionals are
beginning to sit up and notice the medical benefits of prayer.
One of these, a randomized, double-blind study at San
Francisco General Hospital, studied four hundred
patients who were admitted to the coronary care unit.
Most of the patients had had or were suspected of
having had a heart attack. They were divided roughly
into two groups. Both received state-of-the-art medical
care; however, only one group received prayer. Their
first names and brief sketches of their condition were
given to various prayer groups throughout the United
States who were asked to pray for them.
Since it was a double-blind study, neither the nurses, physicians, nor patients knew who was and
who was not being prayed for. This meant that preferential care could not subconsciously be
given by the health-care professionals to one group; nor could the prayed-for group "try harder"
to get well, knowing they were being prayed for. There were no statistical differences in the
severity of illness between the two groups.
When this meticulous study was over, the prayed-for group appeared to have been given some
“miracle drug.” They did better clinically in several ways:
- They were far less likely to develop congestive heart failure, a
condition in which the lungs fill with fluid as a consequence of the
failure of the heart to pump properly (eight compared to twenty
- They were five times less likely to require antibiotics (three
compared to sixteen patients), and three times less likely to need
diuretics (five compared to fifteen patients).
- None of the prayed-for group required an artificial breathing tube
(inserted in the throat and attached to a mechanical ventilator),
while twelve of the other group required mechanical ventilatory
- Fewer of the prayed-for group developed pneumonia (three
compared to thirteen).
- Fewer of those prayed for experienced cardiopulmonary arrest requiring resuscitation
(CPR; three compared to fourteen).
- None of the prayed-for group died, compared to three deaths among those not prayed for
(this difference was not statistically significant).
One commentator, after reviewing the data, said: “If the therapy being evaluated had been a new
drug or surgical procedure, it would undoubtedly have been heralded as a medical breakthrough.”
Dr. William Nolen, author of The Making of a Surgeon and noted by some to be a skeptic of
mixing prayer and medicine, remarked after reading this study that perhaps physicians should be
writing in their orders, “Pray for my patient three times a day.”
Other studies have shown the power of prayer to statistically double the chances for health and
Do we believe in prayer only because we can prove that it works scientifically? Of course not! If
God outlined the value of prayer throughout the inspired Word of God, that must be our basis,
our foundation, for believing in prayer. We pray, using the Model Prayer as a template, because
we follow Jesus, our Model.
Prayer has worked for God’s followers long before these renowned universities and institutes
revealed their remarkable studies. Still, it is exciting to know that they are proving what Christians
are supposed to have known all along: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth
much” (James 5:16).
Prayer, like faith, does not need proof. It needs practice.
The disciples were fully aware of the prayer life of Jesus. They knew it was the source of His
power, and it is clear that they wanted to know more about prayer: “And it came to pass, that as
he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, Lord, teach
us to pray” (Luke 11:6).
That is why Jesus gave the pattern for us to follow. We must do it rigorously, not ritualistically. We
have a timeless template, a Model Prayer taught by the King of Kings:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
In earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory for ever.
Now it is up to us to tap into the power of prayer that is available to each believer!
The effectual [effective]
fervent prayer of a
has tended to hurts
and hearts in North