There might be disappointing news for you in the New Scientist if you are a fan of the power of prayer for assisting others through illness or some other difficulty. In Prayer found ineffective in speeding recovery the idea that praying for someone’s recovery helps them along is put to the test.
In the study, the recovery of 1802 patients undergoing coronary bypass operations was measured. Several Christian prayer groups prayed for one set of patients, another set received no prayers at all (neither the groups, nor the doctors knew who was being prayed for). The praying made no detectable difference in their recovery, the level of complications in the first month after surgery were equal. Strangely, a third group of people received the same prayers but were told they were being prayed for, more of them had complications!
Personally I think it is worth praying for, or cultivating kind thoughts, for someone in difficulty. Not because it will have a positive effect on them at a distance, but because it’ll have a positive effect on you. It seems to me that purposely cultivating an attitude of compassion will have a positive effect on how you act with others, which will be good for them.
What do you think?