I was watching my son's soccer tournament today which went into PKs. As one boy approached the ball, he did the cross on his chest and when he scored, he did a standing Tebow. I was struck by how pointless and silly this was. If god existed, why help the kid who was the shooter, over the kid who was the goal keeper? One wins, one looses. Its a zero sum game.
I googled to see if there had been any scientific studies conducted on the effectivity of prayer.
Largest Study of Third-Party Prayer Suggests Such Prayer Not Effective In Reducing Complications Following Heart Surgery
BOSTON, MA-March 31, 2006-For those facing surgery or battling disease, the prayers of others can be a comfort. Researchers in the Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP), the largest study to examine the effects of intercessory prayer-prayer provided by others-evaluated the impact of such prayer on patients recovering from coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery.
The STEP team, composed of investigators at six academic medical centers, including Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts; Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, Florida; Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C; and the Mind/Body Medical Institute, found that intercessory prayer had no effect on recovery from surgery without complications. The study also found that patients who knew they were receiving intercessory prayer fared worse. The paper appears in the April issue of American Heart Journal.
"The primary goal of STEP was to evaluate whether intercessory prayer or the knowledge of receiving it would influence recovery after bypass surgery," said co-author Jeffery A. Dusek, Harvard Medical School instructor of medicine and Associate Research Director at the Mind/Body Medical Institute. Each year, 350,000 Americans have coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Though medical techniques and post-operative care have improved dramatically in recent years, the surgery is stressful. Earlier studies have shown that many patients enlist friends and family to provide private prayer for support during surgery and recovery.
STEP investigators enrolled 1,802 bypass surgery patients from six hospitals and randomly assigned each to one of three groups: 604 patients received intercessory prayer after being informed they may or may not receive prayers (Group 1); 597 patients did not receive prayer after being informed they may or may not receive prayer (Group 2); and 601 patients received intercessory prayer after being informed they would receive it (Group 3).
Caregivers and independent auditors comparing case reports to medical records were unaware of the patients' assignments throughout the study. The study enlisted members of three Christian groups, two Catholic and one Protestant, to provide prayer throughout the multi-year study. The researchers approached other denominations, but none were able to make the time commitments that the study required.
Some patients were told they may or may not receive intercessory prayer: complications occurred in 52 percent of those who received prayer (Group 1) versus 51 percent of those who did not receive prayer (Group 2). Complications occurred in 59 percent of patients who were told they would receive prayer (Group 3) versus 52 percent, who also received prayer, but were uncertain of receiving it (Group 1). Major complications and thirty-day mortality were similar across the three groups.
Unlike traditional intercessory prayers, STEP investigators imposed limitations on the usual way prayer-givers would normally provide prayer. The researchers standardized the start and duration of prayers and provided only the patients' first name and last initial. Prayers began on the eve or day of surgery and continued daily for 14 days. Everyone prayed for received the same standardized prayer. Providing the names of patients directed prayer-givers away from a desire to pray for everyone participating in the study. Because the study was designed to investigate intercessory prayer, the results cannot be extrapolated to other types of prayer.