Back in the 1980’s a heart specialist named Randolph C. Byrd, MD, embarked on a study to see if science could verify whether intercessory prayer was effective.
Dr. Byrd wanted to know if intercessory prayer had any effect on the medical condition and recovery process of patients in a cardiac care unit. He published his findings in the Southern Medical Journal in July 1988, in an article titled: “Positive Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in a Coronary Care Unit Population.”
Dr. Byrd’s study began with 383 patients at the San Francisco General Hospital. He divided these patients into two groups: one group would receive intercessory prayer, and one group would not. None of the doctors or staff were told which patients had been assigned to which group.
The intercessors who were chosen to pray for the group of patients receiving prayer were Christians living a dedicated Christian life manifested by daily devotional prayer and active fellowship in a local church. Each of the patients in this group was assigned to between three and seven intercessors. The intercessors’ prayers were offered daily, outside the hospital, until the patient was discharged. Each intercessor was asked to pray specifically for a rapid recovery and for the prevention of complications and death.
There were 192 patients in the group receiving intercessory prayer, and 201 patients in the group receiving no prayer. Analyses revealed no significant differences between the health of the two groups upon admission.
When Dr. Byrd reported the study’s results, he found that fewer patients required antibiotics, diuretics (water pills) or breathing support in the group receiving intercessory prayer. According to Dr. Byrd, this data suggests that intercessory prayer had a beneficial and therapeutic effect on patients admitted to the cardiac care unit.
This study jump-started a new trend of research in the area of spirituality and health, and offered scientific proof for something praying Christians have always known: that intercessory prayer can truly make a difference.
Isaiah 65:24 Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. (New International Version)