Have you ever prayed when you or a loved one was in a dire situation? So many people turn to prayer in times of need, and now we are beginning to see scientific support for its power.
Prayer and meditation have been used for thousands of years to support healing and spirituality. Our ancestors believed in the healing power of connecting with our inner space as a way to connect with a higher power, spirituality, and healing.
Today, according to a recent Time/CNN poll, 82% of Americans believe in the healing power of prayer, 73% believe that distance prayer for others can heal them, and 64% of patients want their doctors to pray for them.1
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Scientifically Documented Benefits of Self-Healing with Meditation or Prayer2
- Lower blood pressure.
- Reduce heart rate.
- Alter melatonin and serotonin levels.
- Boost immune function.
- Decrease reactive oxygen species or free radicals.
- Reduce anxiety or pain.
- Boost self-esteem.
- Boost mood.
- Enhance quality of life.
Does Science Back the Ancient Practice of Prayer?
The short answer to this question is yes, but the evidence is still very fuzzy! There is plenty of science on both sides of the prayer healing aisle that I will attempt to share with you.
As far as a mechanism to understand how distance healing with prayer could work, it is safe to say that Newtonian physics has been unable to describe a mechanism, but quantum physics seems to be getting closer to understanding.
As for the power of prayer and meditation for distance healing and spontaneous remission from illness, one mechanism may describe it best: the Hawthorne effect states that a healing effect from prayer may result from the act of observation or measurement.
This is in line with quantum physics experiments that have repeatedly proven that observation changes the observed—unlimited by distance.
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Prayer at a Distance!
There have been numerous reviews of the many studies on prayer or distance healing for medical conditions. One review evaluated 23 studies involving 2,774 patients. In this review, distance healing included spiritual healing, prayer, and any form of healing from a distance resulting from a conscious act intended to benefit another person.2
The results reported that 57%, or 13 of the studies evaluated, yielded a statistically significant treatment in favor of distance healing. Nine of the studies only matched the effect of the control group.2
In another review of 90 studies on distance healing, where half were done in clinical settings and the other half in the laboratory, 71% of the clinical studies and 62% of the laboratory studies reported positive healing effects.2
219 women from Seoul, Korea with infertility concerns were studied with regard to healing or prayer from a distance. The group that received prayer had almost twice as many pregnancies as the group that did not receive distance prayer therapy.2
Finally, a group of primates called bush babies were evaluated to determine the effect of prayer on wound healing. Having prayer applied to primates who didn’t know what was happening removed the possibility of placebo effect. The group of prayed-for primates showed a greater reduction in time of wound healing that was backed up by a boost in immune markers in the blood.2
Note: While the results here show a modest healing effect of prayer and distance healing, there are many well done studies in hospitals that did not show a healing effect—only matching controls in some studies or doing worse (more health complications) than controls.2
See more details of some of the distance healing studies here in one of my previous articles.
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Biophotons: The Quantum Answer?
Emerging science is exploring the effect of intention on the body’s release of biophotons, known as ultraweak photon emissions (UPE). These photons are 1,000 times too small to be seen with the naked eye, but have been found to carry information from cell to cell, and into our DNA, and can be manipulated by intention.3, 4
Remember in my articles on quantum consciousness where the double-slit experiments proved that photons that passed through a barrier with two slits were dramatically altered when the photons were measured or observed?
Einstein discovered that photons can interact with each other instantaneously over great distances, which may be the quantum-based mechanism for distance healing. This effect, called spooky action at a distance, was discovered in the 1930s.
Brush up on these experiments here.
The body’s release of UPEs or biophotons has been found to be affected by the observer as well as one’s intention. Meditation, for example, which is the observation of oneself, has been shown to change the output of UPEs and reduce the amount of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the human body.2, 3
We are constantly emitting biophotons, and our skin has been found to be a UPE-trapping system, suggesting that humans both emit and receive biophotons, which are now known to be information-carrying messengers.3
Could this new research be the explanation for distance healing or prayer? Stay tuned as we dig deeper into the power of our Inner Space!