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
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 session and three of the visually impaired subjects saw their vision improve from 20/400 or worse to 20/80 or better.
To me these results suggest that the power of the impaired person’s intention is at work here. The magic doesn’t lie in the power of Pentecostal prayer itself, but this type of prayer involves the “laying on of hands,” and therefore carries a more powerful intention for the person being prayed for than distant prayer. Healing modalities such as Reiki and Healing Touch have a similar effect and have proven the efficacy of Reiki which is now used in many hospitals.
These results are dismissed by some medical professionals as representative of the “placebo effect,” but the placebo effect is really just the power of intention. If you believe something will work, it often does.
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