Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP)


What are you thoughts of this study, which attempts to prove that prayer has no positive effect on cardiac bypass patients?

Herbert Benson, MD, et al.Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: A multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer


I don’t think much of studies that try to test God. That said I don’t have time to read through the whole thing. What did it find?


The study’s conclusion was that

Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications.

The only reason I am interested in this is because it is an excellent example of the state of modern science: it is collapsing. The great scientists—Copernicus, who had a deep religious sense and was allegedly a Catholic priest; Kepler, who, although a Protestant, still firmly believed that God was what connected the universe together in a “harmony of the spheres;” Galileo, a Catholic who mentioned God in his scientific writings; and Newton and Einstein, who, although brought up in Anglican and Jewish environments, respectively, and did not visibly follow these organized religions the rest of their lives, they still maintained a religious sense that drove them to understand God’s creation more—nay, all the great scientists were religious and overtly so, too. Today, mention of God in a scientific paper like this one is almost heresy to scientism.


My dear friend

Who did the intercessory prayer? Was it an atheist? If a saint prayed maybe there would be some noticable difference. I wouldn’t trust anyting they said anyway. They are supposed to be objective and seeking truth but they aren’t. They have no higher motive so how can you trust them. Send them to Lourdes to see all the left behind wheel chairs and crutches, examine all, and tell us if prayer doesn’t work.

God bless you:)


Well said, John! :clapping:

I would have to wonder, too… about “who” it was doing the praying. And of their “intentions”; if it was done, as “ChristIstheWay” mentioned… to “test” God… watch out. :nope:

Prayer is an act of faith. And they’re trying to stamp it with statistics? I would take this with a very large <blessed? :smiley: > grain of salt. Science has often been proved wrong, by the miraculous.

God bless. It’s an interesting topic.


“Thou shalt not put the LORD thy God to the test…”


They are not trying to test God; they are testing prayer.


I agree. From a purely scientific standpoint, this paper rejects the principles of scientific inquiry. It does not even speculate how “usual” prayer with “the [added] phrase ‘for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications’” would or would not contribute to a more successful recovery.

Yes, this is not real science. True science is humble and acknowledges that its findings are merely theories, not absolute truths.


Ummm… testing prayer to see if it “works” is indeed equivalent to testing God. Who else are they expecting to accomplish the thing asked for?


“Geremia” Let’s think about this statement, for a minute. :hmmm:

I submit these thoughts, for your consideration.

1.) What IS “prayer”? Prayer, is conversation WITH God. I think most people would agree with that statement.

2.) What is the desired HOPE from prayer? That could vary. But in a general sense… the most often hoped for effect of prayer… is to receive some sort of answer FROM God. Again, I think most would agree with this.

Now… if this “study” was testing the effectiveness of prayer… in ANY circumstance… illness, or other needs. Then they WERE attempting in a way, to test God to see if He will grant the exact petition… of the person praying; for health, or whatever.

Stay with me, I’m almost done :wink: Sorry if I’m rambling.

I guess the point I’m attempting to make, rather clumsily… is that they have proved NOTHING with this “study”. Because the effect of prayer is sometimes… that God says “NO”. Or… “NOT RIGHT NOW”. Or… “I HAVE SOMETHING BETTER IN MIND. TRUST ME”.

In all of those cases… it might appear to the person praying, that God has not heard the prayer and that it has had no effect. But the “study” in NO WAY proves that God hasn’t heard the prayer… OR that the prayer hasn’t benefitted the person praying.

So… in my mind, anyway… since Scripture tells us that “man’s thoughts are not God’s thoughts”… it completely voids any attempt to “study” the effectiveness of prayer.

Whew! I hope that made some sort of sense. :smiley:


The authors do not define prayer; they just that “The intercessors agreed to add the phrase ‘for a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and no complications’ to their usual prayers.” Thus they might be trying to test whether the intercessor simply thinking about a person and saying these words helps the patient’s recovery.

I agree because they have not precisely defined prayer even if they are insinuating it to be as we Catholics define it. They are basically doing the devil’s temptation: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” Or, e.g., “If your God exists, pray that food instantly appears on your table. See, you can’t do it. Therefore, your god either doesn’t listen to you or it doesn’t exist.”


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