An older Mozambican woman named Maryam could not see two fingers held up just one foot in front of her when she arrived for a Pentecostal prayer intervention in her village. Nor could she see an eye chart from a similarly close distance.
But after a healer at the evangelical meeting laid hands on her and prayed for less than a minute, Maryam was able to not only see the fingers held up in front of her but could count them as well. The eye chart also came into view, with Maryam able to read down to the 20/125 line.
The experiences of Maryam and 23 other Mozambicans, part of a study reported in the September issue of the Southern Medical Journal, a peer-reviewed journal, suggest to the researchers that “proximal intercessory prayer (PIP)” — in which the healer is in close proximity to the patient, often touching or hugging him or her — may be a useful complement to Western medical practice.
Other studies which have focused on distant prayer without the hands-on factor have not shown significant results like these:
Fourteen hard-of-hearing and 11 visually impaired study participants were recruited at meetings of Pentecostal Christian groups in Mozambican villages and towns.
They were tested with a handheld audiometer or vision charts, depending on their impairment, before and after they took part in a prayer session.
“There was a highly significant improvement in hearing across 18 ears of 11 subjects” and “significant visual improvements,” says the study, which will be published in September in the peer-reviewed Southern Medical Journal.
Two of the hard-of-hearing study participants were able to hear sounds 50dB lower after the prayer […]