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Medical Minute: Beating the Odds With Prayer

Prayer can liven up a room or quiet an entire congregation, but can it save lives? Duke cardiologist Mitch Krucoff says it’s worth studying to find out.

In one of the first clinical trials of its kind, Krucoff and colleagues are looking at whether distant prayer, prayer from people you don’t even know, can help patients recover quicker after a heart procedure.

“Prayer, healing touch, compassion, love. These are things that we do all the time in millions of human being and literally have for thousands of years.”

In the pilot study, patients who were prayed for had up to a 30 percent reduction in adverse outcomes. But more recent results show prayer did not affect patient outcomes.
Despite these conflicting results, Krucoff says distant prayer should still be studied.

But some like Dr. Stephen Barrett disagree.

“There’s no point in studying prayer, you know, it doesn’t work, end of story.”

Barrett and others say distant prayer studies are a waste of time and money.

Doris Redfern believes her faith and others’ prayers helped her recover from stage-four pancreatic cancer. Doctors gave her three months to live. That was three years ago!

After her diagnosis, Doris’ church sent out prayer requests to others around the country.

Doris Redfern says, “I started getting these cards, you know, just coming in by the dozens, and the mailman’s bringing them, and he said, ‘I want you to know my family is praying for you every day,’ and you know it just works.”

She believes prayer made her medical treatment work even when her doctor said nothing would.

"I never thought that I would be around to see my first great grandchild!”

Now, she’ll be around to witness all the little moments.


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