Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Prayer: Faithful vs. Empirical

Letter to the Editor, Ottawa Citizen
From Andrew Belli
Re: "To Pray or not to pray: study says don't", March 31

Dear Editor,
How interesting it is that in one issue of the Citizen there were two studies "disproving" remedies for heart problems! Firstly, on A4 we are informed that red wine may not be as beneficial for fighting heart disease as we once thought. Secondly, we were enlightened by new advances in science telling us that prayer is ineffective regarding heart bypass surgery.
Are you kidding me? I almost don't have any words for something so ludicrous. The American Heart Journal is actually publishing an "experiment" to test how prayer affects the recovery in patients? I am reading this days after my good friend returned home after a complicated heart surgery where even the doctors doubted his survival. The Boston surgeon told my friend's wife to pray, and to have our church pray. We did incessantly, and my friend is healthy and recovering after being opened up four times. (Incidentally, prior to surgery the surgeon told my friend to drink wine.)
The study reports that people in churches were given written prayers with anonymous prayer objects. Do you think God jumps through our inquisitive hoops? Do you think he's tricked by scientists and insincere prayers? God is not a guinea pig in a cage. Prayer is not a magical incantation. It's a personal conversation with God. Jesus warned not to pray with "vain repetitions" but to "pray in secret" so God will answer you (Matthew 6:5-8). As well, we're warned regarding prayer, "When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives" (James 4:3). Scientific data is a wrong motive. The issue here is faith.
Who in this story actually has the "heart problem"? Let's stick to experimenting with the effects of alcohol and aspirin. And if I were one of those scientists, I'd be asking God to turn my watery prayers into wine.