Thus, this study showed that, as delivered in this study, intercessory prayer did not influence the week outcome after discharge from a coronary care unit. Other recent randomized controlled trials have also reported negative results. For example, Krucoff et al. Benson et al. The sample comprised 1, patients in six hospitals in the USA. These patients were randomized into three groups: were prayed for after being informed that they may or may not be prayed for, were not prayed for after similarly being informed that they may or may not be prayed for and were prayed for after being informed they would definitely be prayed for.
Prayer commenced one day before the surgery and continued for 14 days. Three mainstream religious sites prayed daily for patients assigned to receive prayer. Assessment of outcomes was made by nurses who were blind to the group assignments. The primary outcome was the presence of any complication within 30 days of surgery. Secondary outcomes were any major event, including death.
The study sought to examine the efficacy of intercessory prayer and not to test the presence of God. The design was described by Dusek et al. Major events and day mortality rates, however, were similar across the three groups. This study therefore showed that remote intercessory prayer did not improve outcomes after coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
In fact, the knowledge of being prayed for was associated with a slightly but significantly higher rate of postsurgical complications. Leibovici[ 39 ] reported the results of an unusual study that was conducted in Israel. The sample comprised 3, in patients diagnosed with a bloodstream infection between and Bloodstream infection was defined as a positive blood culture in the presence of sepsis. A list of the first names of the patients in the prayer group was given to a person details not specified who said a short prayer details again not specified for the wellbeing and full recovery of the group as a whole.
This prayer was said about years or longer after the index admission. There was no sham intervention. Thus, this study sought to determine whether prayer has a retrospective healing effect. The patients in the prayer and control groups were similar on important sociodemographic and clinical variables.
Whereas the mortality rate did not differ significantly between the prayer and the control groups Some points about this study are worth noting. The differences between groups, although significantly favoring patients for whom prayer was offered, were very small; the medians of the two groups differed by a small margin. Thus, the significance of the findings depended heavily upon the outliers who skewed the sample.
Next, no attempt was made to compare for unusual biases, such as day of admission and discharge. It is conceivable, for example, that patients admitted toward the end of the week may have been investigated and treated more slowly and those due for discharge toward the end of the week may have been retained until the start of the next week.
Importantly, considering the number of patients in each group, there must surely have been much overlap in first names. Did Leibovici consider the possibility that the prayers, then, could benefit patients in both groups to the extent of overlap? Finally, in a lighter vein, would the findings have changed had the author, in the best spirits of ethical research, offered the experimental intervention prayer for the control group at the conclusion of the study?
More seriously, because the data were retrospective, it should have been possible for the study to have been repeated several times, with fresh randomization each time. Would the results, then, have remained unchanged? These and other issues were raised in the journal correspondence published on the Leibovici[ 39 ] article. In the broadest sense, prayer describes thoughts, words or deeds that address or petition a divine entity or force. Chibnall et al. We expand on certain of their views and of the views expressed in the journal correspondence that followed their article, and we add our critical perspectives in the discussion that follows.
Some technical notes that do not flow with the text are provided in the Appendix. By invoking prayer, researchers invite troublesome questions about the importance of several theosophical matters:. Do the quantitative aspects of prayer influence outcomes? Quantity refers to the number of prayers, the frequency of the prayers and the duration of the prayers.
Do the qualitative aspects of prayer influence outcomes? Quality refers to the category to which the prayer belongs in the religion of the person who is praying; the fervency with which the petition is expressed; whether the prayer is expressed in thoughts, speech or song; the addition of vows and sacrifices, etc.
Does the practical content of the prayer or the actual petition matter? That is, are some petitions more or less likely to receive a favorable response, depending on how reasonable they are? Are outcomes more likely to be favorable if the persons praying have greater belief that the outcome will be favorable, or greater faith or conviction in the deity at whom the prayer is directed? Are outcomes more likely to be favorable if a larger number of people pray or if a team approach is adopted as opposed to an individual approach? Might outcomes depend on the personal characteristics of the persons who pray; that is, their age, sex, income, religious denomination, position in the religious hierarchy, experience with and skills at praying and so on?
Might outcomes depend on the moral and social characteristics of the persons who pray; that is, their integrity, kindness, altruism, willingness to forgive, generosity, religiosity and so on? Might outcomes depend on the personal, moral and social characteristics of the persons in whose favor the prayer is offered, or of the general worthiness of the cause? What is the nature and magnitude of response that would be considered as a favorable outcome? Therefore, all of the above would need to be considered as independent or confounding variables in any scientific study on the efficacy of intercessory prayer.
Curiously, no study has so far addressed these issues. And, for several reasons, such issues are disturbing because they reduce the concept of God to that of a human being with weaknesses and vanities, thereby exposing theological inconsistencies and attacking the very roots of theology and natural justice. We present some of the unsettling questions that arise in these contexts; the questions are unsettling because they invite comparison with human parallels that devalue the concept of God, something that those who pray surely would not have considered.
If the number, duration and frequency of prayer are important or if the number of persons praying is important, does God, like a businessman, market boons based on the currency value of the prayers? Or, will God pay attention only if those who pray are sufficiently bothersome? If the type of prayer is important, is God a bureaucrat who is more likely to consider petitions that appear in the prescribed forms?
If the addition of vows and sacrifices is important, is God somebody who can be flattered or bribed into granting a boon? If the practical content of and petitions in the prayer are important, how does God make decisions about what is and what is not a reasonable request? If the faith or conviction of the persons who pray is important, does God value the beliefs of the petitioners more than the merits of the petitions? If the personal characteristics and qualities of the persons who pray or the persons who are being prayed for are important, are some people more equal before God than other people?
Religions portray God as being compassionate; what sort of compassion is displayed by the selective favoring of an experimental over a control group? If the entity to which the prayer is directed is important, do different Gods have different portfolios? Are some Gods more approachable? Do some Gods ignore some prayers? If the religious affiliation of the person who prays is important, what becomes of the other religions of the world and those who follow such religions; will their prayers remain unanswered? If the magnitude of response to the petitions is total, then all prayers should result in miraculous or near-miraculous benefits.
This, clearly, almost never happens. Thus, does God work on percentages; that is, if the petition is for an elephant, does he sanction a mouse? Or, are his responses only subtle ones? If so, how does he choose on the outcome measure to improve? These questions are unsettling to those who pray because of their theological implications, but they are also unsettling to scientists because they challenge the design, analysis and interpretation of randomized controlled trials of the efficacy of intercessory prayer.
Consider the following:. It could be difficult, if not impossible, to measure all the independent and confounding variables that are important in such research. For example, how might one measure faith, fervency, reasonableness, worthiness, religiosity, morality and other abstract constructs? How might one define what is an acceptable response to prayer?
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It can be psychological or physical. It can be abstract or concrete. Confounding the picture, statistically significant improvement can be identified only if the same outcome measure is improved in a sufficiently large number of experimental relative to control patients, but why should God decide to select any one outcome measure over the rest?
And if different outcome measures improve in different experimental patients in response to prayer, there is no way in which the improvement can be statistically detected. As atheists, in general, form a minority in most populations, in any randomized controlled trial of intercessory prayer, there is likely to be a number of persons friends, relatives and the patients themselves praying for members of both experimental and control groups, unknown to the researchers.
If prayer works, this unmeasured source of healing could diminish intergroup differences in outcomes. As inferential statistical tests will be applied to the data generated by randomized controlled trials of intercessory prayer, is it valid to assume that acts of God conform to normal, t or other statistical distributions? Or that God responds mechanistically to prayer, in a manner that follows laws of probability?
In this context, miraculous healings are considered to be outside the provisions of nature, and so divine intervention could actually be expected to violate probability. Alternately, if prayer is a nonlinear variable, the merits and demerits of which are decided upon by God, then one prayer made by a control patient or relative can statistically offset a multitude of intercessory prayers offered on behalf of the experimental patients.
In fact, if divine intervention is selective or arbitrary in response to petitions, the entire basis of randomized controlled design and inferential statistical analysis becomes invalid. From a scientific perspective, if prayer is indeed considered to work, thought should also be given to the possibility that it may not require a deity. It may, instead, invoke some hitherto unidentified mental energy that has healing power. If so, might prayer be more effective if those who pray are in closer proximity to those who are being prayed for?
Might the direction in which persons face while praying matter? Might the assistance of the physical sciences be required to identify the nature of the biological energies at work?
It should be noted that the distant healing, intercessory prayer studies specifically test the intervention of a divine entity. This is because the intercessors are usually blind to the identities of the patients for whom they pray, or at least because the intercessors do not have any contact with these patients. Therefore, it is left to a sentient being to miraculously divine the intent of the prayers and apply the intercession to the correct target. Of note, distant healing, intercessory prayer studies address soft diagnoses with soft outcomes.
No study, for example, has examined whether prayer can result in the disappearance of medically proven tumors and metastases, reversal of traumatic paraplegia or revival from a state of brain death. It would seem that the results of such studies could be more convincing than the results of studies on wound healing or successful pregnancy.
Could it be that those who pray believe that God has or sets limitations? In prayer. Where do we experience this? One place we can learn to do so is in prayer. Seldom do we get closer to Him than in prayer. In fact, the longer I love, the more I think that the chief reason for the gift of prayer is that we learn to receive, experience, and return His love in genuine relationship.
Prayer is one place when God can get at us and we think prayer is for getting at Him! It is for this reason first that we can learn to rush to prayer. Understand how you can know God personally. What is Christianity? Learn the basics of what Christians believe.
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High School Reaching students and faculty in middle and high school. Our needs are great and our people thirst for your presence. Open the hearts of many, raise up faithful servants of the Gospel, dedicated, holy priests, sisters, brothers and deacons, who will spend themselves for your people and their needs. Bless those who are serving now with courage and perseverance. Grant that many will be inspired by their example and faith.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Prayer 1 Parents Prayer for Vocations Almighty and eternal God, in your unfailing love you provide ministers for your Church. Prayer 2 O God, Father of all Mercies, Provider of a bountiful Harvest, send Your Graces upon those You have called to gather the fruits of Your labor; preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you. Prayer 4 Loving God, you call all who believe in you to grow perfect in love by following in the footsteps of Christ your Son.
Prayer 5 He said to them "Come and See.
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As strangers in a strange land they brought with them countless skills, talents and traditions, but their greatest treasure was their faith. May the good News of Jesus Christ, which molded and shaped their lives, continue to mold and shape our lives today. Bless our diocese with men and women who will follow in their footsteps to serve the Church as religious brothers, sisters, priests, and deacons. Lord Jesus Christ, help to hear your call to "Come and See. Hail Mother of God; when asked by the angel to bear the Son of the Most High, filled with faith, you responded: "Let it be done unto me.
Be with us as we discern our life's work and guide us in the way we are called to follow in the footsteps of your Son. Holy Mother of the Savior, at the foot of the cross you mourned the death of your only Son. Bless and embrace the loving parents of all priests, deacons, brothers and sisters. Holy Mother of the Good Shepherd, turn your motherly care to this nation. Intercede for us to the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers to the harvest in this land dedicated to your honor. Let the word of your Son be made flesh anew in the lives of persons anxious to proclaim the good news of everlasting life.
Prayer 7 Gracious God, You have called me to life and gifted me in many ways. Through Baptism You have sent me to continue the mission of Jesus by sharing my love with others. Strengthen me to respond to Your call each day. Help me to become all You desire of me. Inspire me to make a difference in others' lives. Lead me to choose the way of life You have planned for me. Open the hearts of all to listen to Your call.
Fill all with Your Holy Spirit that we may have listening hearts and the courage to respond to You. Enkindle in my heart and the hearts of others the desire to make the world a better place by serving as Lay Minister, Sister, Priest, Brother or Deacon. Prayer 8 Father, we're your people, the work of your hands. So precious are we in your sight that you sent your Son, Jesus. Jesus calls us to heal the broken-hearted, to dry the tears of those who mourn, to give hope to those who despair, and to rejoice in your steadfast love.
We, the baptized, realize our call to serve. Help us to know how. Call forth from among us priests, sisters, brothers and lay ministers. With our hearts you continue to love your people. Prayer 9 Loving God, your Son, Jesus, has shown us that an open heart finds the way. Help me to find my way in this world. Keep my heart open to following Jesus' way of serving others in love. Give me the courage to accept the guidance you offer me through my family, my friends, and my parish community. Through the Holy Spirit, you call me to a particular way of life.
If it is the way of a priest, sister, brother or deacon, then help me to walk it in joyful service to your people. With you, my God, I know I can find my way. Prayer 10 O God, Who wish all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of Your truth: send, we beg You, laborers into Your harvest, and grant them grace to speak Your word with all boldness; so that Your word may spread and be glorified, and all nations may know You, the only God, and Him Whom You have sent, Jesus Christ Your Son, Our Lord, Who lives and reigns world without end.
Or if I am already living out a life's vocation, are you asking me to help call others to the ministry of leadership in the Church? We do need men and women to help lead us as Church, Lord. Open the minds and hearts of many men and women to live your Word and build your Kingdom. Speak to me Lord. Lord here I am! What would you like me to do with my life?
Pause to listen to God for a moment Teach me to do your will, Lord. And let your Holy Spirit guide me! Prayer 11 O Father, you desire all of us to be happy.
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Stir up the grace of a religious vocation in the hearts of many men and women. Grant to them the willingness and generosity to give of themselves,their lives, their time and their talents to the service of Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord and Savior, and to His Holy Church. May more men and women go forth as priests, deacons, brothers and sisters to bring the truths of our Catholic faith to all others so that soon they, too, may know You better and love You more Prayer 12 Father you call each one of us by name and ask us to follow you.
Bless your church by raising up dedicated and generous leaders from our families and friends who will serve your people as Sisters, Priests, Brothers, Deacons, and Lay Ministers. Inspire us as we grow to know you, and open our hearts to hear your call. We ask this in Jesus name Amen. Prayer 13 Creator God, Life is your gift to me, Through Baptism you invite me to share the gift of my life in service to others. Be with me as I choose each day to show Your presence in our world. Give me the courage and generosity to respond to Your love, to Your call.
Open the minds and hearts of many other men and women that they may accept Your challenge to build the Kingdom. Loving God, you have made me in Your image and likeness, and for this I shall praise You forever. Through baptism Your invite me to serve as Your son Jesus served. I offer You this day all that I have and all that I am in union with His saving cross. Father, in the power of the Spirit, You send us forth to build up Your kingdom.
I pray especially for those whom You are calling to serve the church as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers. Help them to hear and answer Your call to discipleship. The harvest is plenty, but laborers are few. Please provide for us men and women who will help to gather in a great harvest of souls. I make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Prayer 14 O loving and gracious God, Father of all, you bless your people in every time and season and provide for their needs through your providential care.
Your Church is continually in need of priests, sisters and brothers to offer themselves in the service of the gospel by lives of dedicated love. Open the hearts of your sons and daughters to listen to your call in their lives. Give them the gift of understanding to discern your invitation to serve you and your Church.
Give them the gift of courage to follow your call. May they have the spirit of young Samuel who found fulfillment in his life when he said to you, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening. Prayer 15 Loving God, You speak to us and nourish us through the life of this Church community. In the name of Jesus, we ask you to send your Spirit to us so that men and women among us, young and old, will respond to your call to service and leadership in the Church.
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