David R. Hodge, an assistant professor of social work in the College of Human Services at Arizona State University, conducted a comprehensive analysis of 17 major studies on the effects of intercessory prayer – or prayer that is offered for the benefit of another person – among people with psychological or medical problems. He found a positive effect.“There have been a number of studies on intercessory prayer, or prayer offered for the benefit of another person,” said Hodge, a leading expert on spirituality and religion. “Some have found positive results for prayer.Others have found no effect. Conducting a meta-analysis takes into account the entire body of empirical research on intercessory prayer. Using this procedure, we find that prayer offered on behalf of another yields positive results.”
is featured in the March, 2007, issue of Research on Social Work
Practice, a disciplinary journal devoted to the publication of
empirical research on practice outcomes.
It is widely recognized as one
of the most prestigious journals in the field of social work.
Hodge noted that his study
is important because it is a compilation of available studies and is
not a single work with a single conclusion. His “Systematic Review”
takes into account the findings of 17 studies that used intercessory
prayer as a treatment in practice settings.
“Some people feel Benson
and associates’ study from last year, which is the most recent and
showed no positive effects for intercessory prayer, is the final word,”
said Hodge, referring to a 2006 article by Dr. Herbert Benson of the
Harvard Medical School thatmeasured the therapeutic effect of
intercessory prayer in cardiac bypass patients. “But, this research
suggests otherwise. This study enables us to look at the big picture.
When the effects of prayer are averaged across all 17 studies,
controlling for differences in sample sizes, a net positive effect for
the prayer group is produced.
“This is the most thorough
and all-inclusive study of its kind on this controversial subject that
I am aware of,” said Hodge. “It suggests that more research on the
topic may be warranted, and that praying for people with psychological
or medical problems may help them recover.”
The use of prayer as a
therapeutic intervention is controversial. Yet, Hodge notes that survey
research indicates that many people use intercessory prayer as an
intervention to aid healing, which raises questionsabout ......
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