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Old 05-02-2005, 12:22 PM   #16
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swalwesigirl4 –*I would say just chatting with God definitely qualifies as prayer.

I try to pray every day, but lately I've felt kind of called to do it more. There's a verse that says to "pray continuously" so I'm trying to make it less of a duty and more of a consistent dialogue, if that makes sense.

I can definitely say it works. In fact, and I'm not making this up, my wife and I had a big prayer answered today. She hasn't been able to work since we had our second boy in December. It's been tough financially. We had to sell a car and stuff to rearrange things. We've been praying for a job for her that would still let her stay home with the boys because childcare is outrageous and not even worth both parents working in many cases. We'd been praying for about a week and she found out about this job through the county where she could be a peer counselor for lactation consulting — something she's always wanted to do. She applied for the job and found out today she's got it. She stays home, works part time, makes decent money and just calls women who have breastfeeding questions. They even give her a cell number. Although the money will help us stay afloat, just the fact that she gets to do something she's passionate about AND stay home with the kids is really the most exciting thing.

I'm sure there's people out there who think it's all just a coinkydink, but we don't see it that way.

I know this is long already, but like I said, if you have prayer requets, I'd be glad to pray for you. Feel free to e-mail me at coemgen17@hotmail.com too. Seriously.

If those who pray could just pray that my wife and I are wise with our finances, that'd be great. Although we have this new income, things are really tight and we want to be smart in paying off debt. Thanks.
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Old 05-02-2005, 12:23 PM   #17
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That's cool Mrs. Springsteen. Thanks for sharing that.
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Old 05-02-2005, 12:27 PM   #18
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One last post (for now ) Thursday is the National Day of Prayer —*do you guys plan on praying that day? What for?

Just curious.
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Old 05-02-2005, 12:35 PM   #19
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Since National Day of Prayer is always a huge legislative schmoozefest (for Democrats and Republicans alike, may I add), I'll pray that our lawmakers be given the wisdom to act in the best interest of the people they were elected to serve, and of all people everywhere.
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Old 05-02-2005, 01:19 PM   #20
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Actually, studies to look at the efficacy of prayer in medical situations are starting. Some have shown evidence of benefits. I can't link you to them, but the articles were in the LA Times recently.

When my family had a deep tragedy 12 years ago, my husband and I could feel the prayers of people who loved us.
in today's LA times

i posted it all

because it is subcription
Quote:
http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-prayer2may02,1,4994743.story

Far-off healing

Many Americans pray for the health of loved ones; others turn to shamans or reiki. Now science is putting these practices to the test.

By Hilary E. MacGregor
Times Staff Writer

May 2, 2005

On an operating table at a medical center in San Francisco, a breast cancer patient is undergoing reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy. But this will be no ordinary surgery. Three thousand miles away, a shamanic healer has been sent the woman's name, a photo and details about the surgery.

For each of the next eight days, the healer will pray 20 minutes for the cancer patient's recovery, without the woman's knowledge. A surgeon has inserted two small fabric tubes into the woman's groin to enable researchers to measure how fast she heals.

The woman is a patient in an extraordinary government-funded study that is seeking to determine whether prayer has the power to heal patients from afar — a field known as "distant healing." While that term is probably unfamiliar to most Americans, the idea of turning to prayers in their homes, hospitals and houses of worship is not. In recent years, medicine has increasingly shown an interest in investigating the effect of prayer and spirituality on health. A survey of 31,000 adults released last year by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 43% of U.S. adults prayed for their own health, while 24% had others pray for their health.

Some researchers say that is reason enough to study the power of prayer.

"Almost every community in the world has a prayer for the sick, which they practice when a member of their community is ill," said Dr. Mitchell Krucoff, a Duke University cardiologist and researcher in the field of distant prayer and healing. "It is a ubiquitous cultural practice, as far as we can tell…. Cultural practices in healthcare frequently have a clue. But understanding that clue, learning how to best use it, requires basic clinical science."

Science has only begun to explore the power of distant healing, and the early results of this research have been inconclusive. In an article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2000, researchers reported on 23 studies on various distant healing techniques, including religious, energy and spiritual healing. Thirteen of the 23 studies indicated there are positive effects to distant healing, nine studies found no beneficial effect and one study showed a modest negative effect with the use of distant healing.

The study of distant healing was once the realm of eccentric scientists, but researchers at such prominent institutions as the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina and the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco are involved in the field. And the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has spent $2.2 million on studies of distant healing and intercessory prayer since 2000 — a small fraction of the agency's annual budget, which totaled $117 million in 2004.

Some people think even that relatively small sum of money is not being well spent.

"You can't use science to prove God," said John T. Chibnall, an associate professor of psychiatry at St. Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri, who co-wrote a scathing rebuttal of studies on distant prayer published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2001. "We shouldn't waste the money of the government showing that Jesus is 'the man,' " Chibnall said in an interview. "Faith is faith. Science is science. Don't use science to strengthen or diminish belief in God."

While some scientists oppose such studies on religious or scientific grounds, others question whether it is possible to devise a scientifically valid method for measuring something as nebulous as the power of prayer.

What constitutes a "dose" of prayer? How does one define prayer? Is channeling Buddhist intention or reiki energy the same thing as praying to a Judeo-Christian God? And how do you determine whether it was prayer that made a patient better, or something else, such as the placebo effect?

"There are enormous methodological and conceptual problems with the studies of distant prayer," said Dr. Richard Sloan, a professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University in New York. "Nothing in our understanding of our universe or ourselves suggests how the thoughts of one group of people could influence the physiology of people 3,000 miles away."

For example, said Sloan, unlike clinical trials where researchers can carefully monitor the dose of medicine each patient receives, it is all-but-impossible for scientists to control or quantify the amount of prayer directed toward a patient.

"People all over the world are praying for the sick," said Sloan. "Friends and family are praying for people in any control group. Unless you assume some potency — that the prayers of certain people are more powerful than others — you are talking about a tiny amount of prayer against the enormous amount that is already out there. It is like taking a drop of water, putting it in Lake Michigan and trying to detect the effect."

*

Weighing the possibilities

One of the leading centers for such research is the Institute of Noetic Sciences. Founded by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell in 1973 and located on 200 acres of oak-studded hillside in Petaluma, the institute describes its research mission on its website as "exploring phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional scientific models."

Marilyn Schlitz, vice president of research and education at IONS and a senior scientist at California Pacific Medical Center, is leading the study of breast cancer patients.

For more than 20 years, Schlitz's research interest has been studying whether the human mind has hidden capacities to promote healing. Some of her projects sound a bit far-out. She once studied whether off-site healers could revive anesthetized mice. Another time, working on research funded by the Pentagon, she conducted experiments designed to determine whether someone could provoke a physiological response in a person in another room simply by staring at his or her picture on a video monitor.

Her work continues to look at whether mind can influence matter.

"The survey data is saying people pray, that they are using it as part of their healing regimen," said Schlitz. "Shouldn't science look at that? … Maybe it helps in certain kinds of conditions and not in others. Well, we cannot answer that unless we take a rigorous, systematic look at what people are actually doing."

*

Early research

Cardiologist Randolph Byrd did the first major clinical study on distant healing at San Francisco General Hospital in 1988. He divided 393 heart patients into two groups.

One group received prayers from Christians outside the hospital; the other did not. His study, published in the Southern Medical Journal, found that the patients who were not prayed for needed more medication and were more likely to suffer complications. While it had flaws, the study garnered considerable attention.

Since then investigators have continued to look at the possible effects of remote prayer and similar distant healing techniques in the treatment of heart disease, AIDS and other illnesses as well as infertility. Numerous experiments involving prayer and distant healing have also been done involving animals and plants. One such study found that healers can increase the healing rate of wounds in mice.

"Critics often complain that if you see positive results in humans it is because of positive thinking, or the placebo response," said Dr. Larry Dossey, a retired internist in Santa Fe, N.M., and author of numerous books on spirituality and healing. "Microbes don't think positively, and are not subject to the placebo response."

In the early '90s, Elisabeth Targ and colleagues at the California Pacific Medical Center studied the effects of distant healing on 20 AIDS patients. Schlitz, who worked with Targ (who died of a brain tumor in 2002), said the study found those receiving prayer survived in greater numbers, got sick less often and recovered faster than those who did not. A follow-up study of 40 patients found similar results.

At about the same time, Duke University's Krucoff was leading a small but unusual experiment to determine if cardiac patients would recover faster after angioplasty surgery if they received any of several intangible (noetic) treatments. His study compared the results of healing touch, stress relaxation and distant healing with standard care.

Spiritual healers from around the world — including Jews leaving prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Buddhists praying in monasteries in Nepal and France, Carmelite nuns in Baltimore offering prayers during vespers, and Moravians, Baptists and fundamental Christians praying during church — each simultaneously prayed for one of several designated groups in the study.

All of the groups did better than the standard care group, with those receiving distant prayers doing best. He has since completed a larger, multi-site study. That study — the largest to date — is currently under review for publication in a medical journal.

The IONS and California Pacific study, which will be completed next year, will follow 140 breast cancer patients who have undergone reconstructive surgery. At the time of the surgery, each patient has two small, spaghetti-like tubes of Gore-Tex implanted in her pubic area to measure how much collagen is deposited as her wound heals.

The study is designed to address one of the primary concerns raised by critics of distant healing research: that the studies are not designed to account for a placebo effect.

Researchers have divided the patients into three groups. One group will be prayed for but will not know of the prayers; another will be prayed for and will be told of the prayers; and a third group will receive no prayers and will be told nothing. The healers who will do the praying must have years of experience in distant healing and come from varied traditions — such as shamanism, bioenergy and reiki.

After eight days, the tubes will be removed and collagen growth in the wound area will be analyzed — an accepted scientific method to measure wound healing. The rates of healing of the groups will then be compared.

But even some who believe in prayer's power to heal concede the difficulties of designing a good study.

"I do believe distant intention works," said Dr. Loren Eskenazi, a California Pacific Medical Center surgeon who is working on the study. "I don't know how, but it works. But it is so hard to design a study that works. We don't know the mechanisms. Is their whole church praying for them? That could skew the results. If someone wishes [a patient] ill, that could void the results."

Mary Destri, 43, a reiki healer who is participating in the study, also had misgivings about the study design. She said she had participated as a healer in other scientific experiments, but had typically been given more information about the patient.

"This is the first time I've ever worked on someone I've never met, the first time I'm working with someone I have no access to, cannot communicate with," she said. "It helps with intentionality to have a sharper focus."

Dossey said such concerns were a challenge for researchers.

"I think you can sanitize the process so greatly you eliminate the effect," he said. "They are taking prayer out of the real life context to the extent that you wonder if this has a real life applicability. People in real life tend to pray for people they know and love. Healers will say if you want healing to work it has to include a factor of profound love and compassion. Many of these randomized, controlled trials virtually eliminate any knowledge whatsoever of the subject."

As a cardiologist Krucoff has seen many patients near death. He says that what determines their survival often reaches beyond technology and medicine. Whether you call it chi, faith, divine energy or placebo, this intangible factor makes a difference, he says.

"We are pretty good at doing studies on the safety and effectiveness of pills and procedures," said Krucoff. "We have a well-established approach to figure out what the risks and benefits are likely to be…. Could you inadvertently kill someone with a loving prayer? Not too many theologians want to have that discussion. But in healthcare, these are fundamental questions."
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Old 05-02-2005, 01:49 PM   #21
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Interesting article. Thanks for posting it, deep.

I think it's funny how they almost equate prayer with medicine. I don't think you can do that. Medicine, when prescribed correctly, should work nearly every time, if not every time. (There may be rare cases where it doesn't work on a person for a variety of reasons.) If Tylenol only took away some people's headaches, maybe people wouldn't trust it as much.

Prayer is quite different. Just because some prayers aren't answered doesn't mean prayer doesn't work. Prayer depends on God. God may not heal someone because he may be using their illness or whatever for his greater good, or you could say, his perfect will. When my grandmother was about to die, we prayed she wouldn't. She was young still. Just because our prayers weren't answered doesn't mean prayer doesn't work or that God wasn't listening. We later realized it was her time to go and that there are probably reasons we'll never know of as to why she died at the time she did. We just know God's in control.

I also got the feeling they almost see prayer as the same as sending out good vibes or good thoughts. Prayer is so much more than that. You're communicating with God himself. This may sound harsh and I don't mean it to, but I have to say it kind of bugs me when people say "I'm thinking of you." I know they mean well and I don't mean to judge them or take away from the sincerity they may be feeling, but part of me thinks "Well, what good does thinking about the person do for them? Why don't you pray for them?" You know? I didn't mean to offend anyone by saying that, it's just a thought.
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Old 05-02-2005, 02:19 PM   #22
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Old 05-02-2005, 02:29 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by coemgen
Prayer is quite different. Just because some prayers aren't answered doesn't mean prayer doesn't work. Prayer depends on God. God may not heal someone because he may be using their illness or whatever for his greater good, or you could say, his perfect will. When my grandmother was about to die, we prayed she wouldn't. She was young still. Just because our prayers weren't answered doesn't mean prayer doesn't work or that God wasn't listening. We later realized it was her time to go and that there are probably reasons we'll never know of as to why she died at the time she did. We just know God's in control.


this has been a nice discussion, and i offer up these questions as fodder for discussion, nothing more. the above is something that bothers me about both prayer, and about religion as a whole. you desire an outcome, that outcome doesn't happen, and you understand that outcome as part of God's plan. so, where's the intervention? isn't this exactly the same thing as accepting life as it is, and doing the best you can with whatever hand you've been dealt? it seems to me that you, the observer, are weaving together meaning, not God. if one thing happens, you understand it through your conception of God; if another thing happens, you alter your understanding of what happened so that it meshes with your conception of God.

i'm reminded of a Garth Brooks' song, "unanswered prayers" (yes, i like some Garth songs). the line is "some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." well, isn't that also an expression of secular humanism? what you wanted to happen, what you prayed for to happen, didn't happen. but something else did. and you -- not God, you the human -- took that something else and made it into something beautiful, or at least consoling.

i suppose it's all how we choose to understand that which is beyond our control -- from someone saying "yes" when we ask them for a date, to the driver of the tractor trailer who skids on the pavement and causes the minivan behind it to flip over and paralyze the driver. i suppose i see how human beings dealing with twists of fate as evidence of existential human empowerment; others see these events as linked to a greater part of God's plan.

just thoughts.
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:05 PM   #24
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I'm new to my faith in God, it has only entered my life very recently and I don't know how to pray, really. I do think about what I perceive as God's presence and stop to soak up those moments. I guess you could call that a start..
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:15 PM   #25
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the soul waits — I just want to congratulate you on your new faith in God. Prayer can seem kind of intimidating, but really it isn't. There's no set way to pray. You don't have to say the right thing or be in the right place. Prayer doesn't even have to include words. It's just discussion. It's you talking to God. Ultimately, he just wants a relationship with us — that's why he created us. He just wants to hear what's on your heart and mind.

By the way, soaking up the moments when you feel his presence is a great way to go, but it's OK to pray when you don't feel his prescence. Oftentimes, that's what he wants. That's where faith grows.

I'm praying for you in your new faith. God bless you.
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:26 PM   #26
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Prayer is not an exercise in getting God to do something. Over time, I've found that prayer is an exercise in changing me - aligning my life with God's Will for me.
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:35 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by coemgen
the soul waits — I just want to congratulate you on your new faith in God. Prayer can seem kind of intimidating, but really it isn't. There's no set way to pray. You don't have to say the right thing or be in the right place. Prayer doesn't even have to include words. It's just discussion. It's you talking to God. Ultimately, he just wants a relationship with us — that's why he created us. He just wants to hear what's on your heart and mind.

By the way, soaking up the moments when you feel his presence is a great way to go, but it's OK to pray when you don't feel his prescence. Oftentimes, that's what he wants. That's where faith grows.

I'm praying for you in your new faith. God bless you.
I hear what you're saying, Coemgen, thank you for elaborating...I guess you hit the nail on the head when you used the word "intimidating". I am still so amazed, really and joyfull.
Now, I'm reading about the bible and am trying to find a way through the jungle of churches and religions - not even sure if I'd want to join one though - I'd love to be able to go to a service once a week to learn more. But, I'm getting off topic here.

Thanks again, Coemgen, these posts mean a lot to me
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Old 05-02-2005, 04:09 PM   #28
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the soul waits - I know finding the right church is difficult as a new believer, but I would encourage you to find a good one. A good church can help you grow as a believer and it always helps to be able to ask questions and identify with other believers. There's a verse somewhere about iron sharpening iron. That's really how it is.

First, I would just encourage you to pray about it. Let God know you want to find a good church and meet people who will help you in your faith walk (and people you'll be helping one day!) Then, make sure you find a good Bible-based church where God's word is read each service. It should be centered around the Bible and Christ. If it involves anything else and they're just asking for money, walk away. They must believe in the trinity too. If you get one that says they're the "one true church," they probably aren't. Even after you check out a few churches, I would keep praying. You'll know when you get a good one.

I'm glad these posts are helpful. Let me know if I can help you in any way or pray for you in any way.

coemgen.
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Old 05-02-2005, 04:15 PM   #29
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Hey Irvine, thanks for the questions. I'm glad you're enjoying the discussion. I can see how it would appear like that —*like people are just attaching meaning to given situations and citing them as answered or unanswered prayers. And actually, I'm sure that is often the case. You asked where's the intervention in unanswered prayers — does there really need to always be intervention? It's like when you would ask your parents, or whomever, for something growing up —*did you always get a "yes"? Have you seen "Bruce Almighty"? You know when he's playing God and he answers everyone's prayers as they want them? What's the result —* chaos. Maybe God's will is for things to stay the same. It's about God's will, not our will.

As far as it being the same as accepting life as it is, I would say it's kind of like that. You could say that, but you'd be leaving out God's role in it. God works in the world and in our lives without us petitioning him in prayer (Blessings not just for the ones who kneel, luckily.) However, ultimately he wants us to seek his will and that's what prayer can help us do. If he doesn't respond, you could say he's still giving you an answer.

I kind of see what you're saying with the Garth Brooks song, but I kind of see it differently. You can pray for something and it might not happen, but that doesn't mean God's not at work or in control. An unanswered prayer may be one that, even though well intended, would've gone against God's will had he answered it. You know what I mean? I don't see it as secular humanism just because you make sense of God's unanswered prayer by "working with the cards you've been dealt." That is the answer to the prayer! He doesn't want things to be how you want them. His will is to leave it as it is.

It may just be that you're seeing prayer through a lens that doesn't include God and I'm seeing it the other way. I can see how it may seem like a bunch of crap, but how do you account for answered prayers? Many people, including myself, have had very specific prayers answered. To me, there's something else going on than just attaching meaning there.

Sorry if this is just a bunch of rambling.
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Old 05-02-2005, 05:54 PM   #30
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hmmm...well, even though I've said I'm an agnostic, I do sort of have something to add. well an admission actually.

I'm sort of the worst kind of person when it comes to this. I don't even know if I believe in God, but I pray when I need something. Last summer my aunt, who has kids my age, suffered an aneurysm/heart attack and was in a coma. My mom was really really upset, and it didn't seem like her sister would make it. So I actually made a deal with "god" or whatever, "If you let her live, I'll believe in you." kind of odd. but in any case, she miraculously lived, and I thought God must exist after all!

within a few weeks, I was convinced that if she had lived in a less fortunate area with poor healthcare she would've died for sure, and that her survival was the result of her ability to afford high quality treatment, not my prayer.

I do this from time to time, stupid prayers, requests to God to prove he exists. I know you're not supposed to do this, but I can't help it. Plus, I'm still not really sure if God exists and I'm trying hard not to care(striving for agnostic! ), so I don't feel to bad about my bad praying habits..,
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