Thursday, July 05, 2007

Practical Prayer Experiment

I used to go to this church that still has me on their mailing list. So I get emails a few times every week that read like this:

Would you please keep * in prayer? She is in the hospital suffering from dehydration. She is due to move into an assisted living situation next week and the family would appreciate your prayers both for her healing & for a smooth transition to her new home. Thanks.

If you wanted to demonstrate the efficacy of prayer, maybe you could look at all these emails and tally which ones turned out as expected, and which ones didn't. But you'd need a control; you'd have to throw out some percentage of the requests at random instead of sending out emails about them, and I doubt the church would consent to that.

Though you could make an approximation of whether the experiment would be worth it by asking people for prayer requests independently (it'd have to be double-blind).


Jason said...

I think the criteria is bad on this one... how can you know that a prayer that turned out as expected is a prayer answered or not?

Kyle said...

When I say "as expected" I mean "without intervention". I'm not talking about whether prayers are answered or not, just whether they have any influence. If more of the prayed-for situations turned out differently than expected, that provide evidence for the influence of prayer.