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Is There Scientific Evidence For Prayer?

“The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.”

Two British researchers, Alex Bunn and David Randall,[1] set out to evaluate the efficacy of prayer and faith. There had been many studies done on prayer, but it was nearly impossible to arrive at a collective conclusion. Thousands of research documents were scattered across the globe, among scholarly books, reports, and papers.

Bunn and Randall rounded up every scientific study they could get their hands on, narrowed them down to those on faith and health, and cross-referenced the results. They analyzed 1,600 documents including one American study that evaluated 21,000 people over a nine-year period.

The outcome was definitive: the average person of faith had a life-expectancy seven years longer than those who didn’t.

Bunn and Randall found the majority of studies also linked faith to the following beneficial outcomes:

  • Well-being, happiness, and life satisfaction
  • Hope and optimism
  • Purpose and meaning in life
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Better adaptation to bereavement
  • Greater social support and less loneliness
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower rates of suicide
  • Less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies
  • Lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse
  • Less delinquency and criminal activity
  • Greater marital stability and satisfaction

Even skeptics have to admit that 1,600 research documents, 81 percent of which point to positive outcomes from the application of faith and prayer, is pretty compelling evidence.

“It is humbling to me … to realize we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book known previously only to God.”[2]
Francis Collins, Director of the National Health Institute

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[1] Alex Bunn and David Randall; Health Benefits of Christian Faith; Christian Medical Fellowship; 2011;; accessed 5/27/15

[2] Francis Collins; The Language of God; (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006); 2.