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Hyveth Williams



Penny Snell



John F. Street
Mayor of Pennsylvania



Elizabeth Taylor



Dr. William Harris



Wayne Teasdale



Dr. Larry Dossey

  
Hyveth Williams:

Prayer for me is a conversation with someone with whom I'm passionately involved.

Hilary Carr:

Prayer is waking up to the reality that is there. There is no reality greater than God.

Penny Snell:

Prayer is opening the heart to God as to a friend.

John Street:

I think prayer is an attitude. I think prayer is a state of mind. And as opposed to viewing prayer as something we do, I think prayer and a prayerful attitude is something you are.



Dwight Nelson:



A man goes to a spiritual master and says, "I've been trying to faithfully devote a whole hour a day to prayer but my problem is I've got three kids and a demanding job and there's hardly any time left at the end of the day for my wife. Tell me, what should I do? To which the master replies, pray two hours a day. So what is prayer? And why do so many people consider it time well spent?

Hyveth:

When I pray, I'm not talking to somebody out there, a being that I have never seen or known, I am talking with someone who is passionately involved in my life also.

Wayne Teasdale:

It's not just like a subordinate relationship. It is, but it's more than that. It's a relationship of friends that God wants most of all to be our friend, and to have an intimate connection with us.

Penny Snell:

I pray because I need to be heard and I need to hear. And because I get lonely.

Elizabeth Taylor:

I think of prayer as my responding to the presence of God. And the presence of God is undeniable. So it's only natural I'm going to respond. Just as if my husband is in the room I am going to respond to his presence in that room.

Penny Snell:

I like the image of a grandma God. I had the kind of a grandma who was padded and comfortable and could take you in her lap and was could give you cookies and was a very comforting person. And I'm sure that my own grandmother has helped me see the comforting part of God.

Hilary Carr:

A person's image of the Divine often determines what kind of relationship they have with God and how they pray. Some people believe that just a quick check in at the beginning and end of the day is enough. And other's believe it is an all day conversation, like John Street, the mayor of Philadelphia.

John Street:

I mean I can't sort of get up in the morning and pray and then you know come to work and say well, I'll get back to that when I get home at night.

Elizabeth Taylor:

Well you know there is a new testament verse that says to pray without ceasing. And that always used to lay a guilt trip on me. But now that I'm growing to see that prayer is more just a part of being present to God and remembering God's presence to me in my everyday life. That means when I'm feeling down, when I'm feeling sad, when I'm feeling angry, when I'm feeling happy and joyous or when I'm, you know, all the varieties of human emotions, God accompanies me in those.

Hyveth Williams:

There are some days when I don't even want to be around God. There are some days when I wake up in the morning, you know, there are people who wring their hands and say, oh, I didn't say my prayer today. And I think, you know, some days I wake up and I say, God, you know I love you, but I'm out of here. You know, later for you. And I know that He's never leaving me. But I want to be in authentic relationship with Him that I say, I need my space today. And He will respect it. And He does. That's the kind of God that I know. And so prayer is being engaged in this kind of relationship with this One that I can trust to respect my needs and teach me how to respect the needs of others.

Hilary Carr:

People find different ways to stay in touch with God. Sometimes they go so far as to develop special techniques to keep connected. Some of these techniques can be quite creative.

John Street

I used to have a very small speaker that was hooked up to a ah, you know like a little boom box, a little stereo, and I'd have that speaker right under the desk. And I would play tapes and I was the only one who could hear it. And I've actually been in meetings and had people you know, very very agitated and I'm hearing the music and they are saying what they have to say. It's not like I'm not listening or I'm not concerned. But I need to be in a in a certain frame of mind.

Penny Snell:

I think God is always present and that that presence is healing and comforting and loving and warm, maybe sometimes confronting. But generally it's a very supportive, perhaps, parental kind of presence. But often we aren't aware of it. And I think in our praying we become aware of it.

Hilary Car:

Someone once said, God was in the details, the little things of life, the things we take for granted. For many people, prayer is a way to sense God's presence in the most ordinary moments of life.

Elizabeth Taylor:

As I'm cooking a meal or doing laundry, it's God, thank you for these clothes that I can wash. Thank you for the food I can prepare. I'm wanting to learn more about experiencing God just in my every day chores. I think that's really where prayer is at for me right now.

Penny Snell:

You may need to stop and breathe deeply to really appreciate the air. And so prayer is a stopping to breathe deeply of the presence of God.

Dwight Nelson:

There may be as many definitions of prayer as there are people who pray. When we come back we'll take a deeper look at prayer and it's power to change people's lives.



Music


One of my most joyous forms of prayer is to sing.

Sometimes it's just sitting down quietly. A lot of driving and praying with my eyes open though.

Did I say when I was a little kid I definitely prayed in a more paternal, maternal sense? And now I think I pray knowing more of who and what God is for me.

I've thought of prayer before as asking for something. And now I realized for me prayer is accepting what already is.

So it's opened my eyes that I may see the glorious reality that's really here.

My life is a prayer. Of course, yeah, yeah.



Dwight Nelson:



Is prayer just the power of positive thinking or does it really make a difference? I mean when you get right down to it, is there evidence that prayer actually works?

I have a really close relationship with prayer. A couple of years ago I was in a coma for 30 days.

I supposedly had cancer. Humongous tumors, huge. I'm supposed to be dead. I'm the healthiest dead person I know.

I can honestly say He answers all my prayers. They may not be exactly what I want him to, but He's always right on time.

And I just woke up and did the marathon that year actually.

Purely on a superficial level once I prayed that I was going to get an A on a test and the next day it happened.

I had a financial concern that I was very concerned about and prayed very hard about it for a few days and then I had a job dropped right in my lap so it was very nice. I feel like it was a direct answer to prayer.

My friend just beat cancer. And I spent a lot of time praying for her. And she just beat it. And I owe that to God.

I feel like many things I pray for have come true. Usually I pray for the Lord's protective covering over my family and my friends.

Like if I'm scared, and I like say a prayer to God and I like get the power and I'm not scared anymore.

You just ask God for guidance as to how you should be living and the choices that you should be making, maybe it's career or family or things of that nature. For instance, I just took a new job and I kind of prayed about guidance through that whole process.

Hilary Carr:

Many people count on their involvement with God to help them through their every day ups and downs. But prayer also seems to work for people in the darkest times, the times of deepest need.

Penny Snell:

When my mother was dying, I remember going into the lower level of our house and just stretching out on the floor and yelling at God and saying, how can you let this happen? How can you let this happen and I don't know that I expected anything but I wanted God to know how I felt about it. But my sense of God's response was that God also wept with me, that God was with me in my grief and that it was a loss to God that my mother was dying.

Dwight Nelson:

Dr. William Harris is a professor of medicine at the University of Missouri school of Medicine. He's the director of a lipid research program at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City. He participated in a scientific study designed to measure the impact of prayer on the health of hospitalized heart patients.

Dr. William Harris:

We decided to use sort of a randomization scheme to place people in a prayed for group or not prayed for group based on whether their medical record number was even or odd. And those of us who are actually organizing and doing the study didn't really know which group, even or odd, was being prayed for. That was something that was determined by one person in private at the beginning of the study. And then that was kept secret throughout the study so nobody know who was being prayed for. We had organized a group of about 75 individuals in the community who volunteered to be our, what we called, intercessors, people that would do the praying. Those 75 people were organized into teams and randomly placed into teams, 5 people each so we had 15 teams, prayer teams as it were. And the, as a new patient came in the hospital, into the coronary care unit, they came up on the computer in the chaplain's office. And the chaplain's secretary who was kind of our study coordinator, she would then determine whether their medical number was even or odd. And we now know that if they were even she would write their name down on the prayer group list. If they were odd, they'd be written down on the control group list.

Hilary Carr:

Patients on the prayer group list were prayed for once a day, for 28 days. Over time about 500 people ended up in the control group and about 500 in the prayer group. A patient's progress was tracked by assigning a number value to each complication. The more significant the complication the higher the number assigned. At the end of the study the hospital charts between these 2 groups were compared. Remember a low number meant the patient did well with few complications. A high number meant they didn't do so well. The numbers were added up and compared. The results were remarkable.

Dr. William Harris:

We found that the group that had been prayed for had an 11% lower score than the control group. And we did some statistics on that. Basically we asked the question, what's the chance that this is just a random chance finding and we found that that chance is about 1 in 25 or so, that this was just a random variation which really meets and exceeds the standard that we set in bio-medical research for statistical significance.

Hilary Carr:

Clearly evidence exists to support the idea that prayer is effective. We'll have more evidence that prayer works when we continue.



Dwight Nelson:



Like William Harris, Larry Dossey is a medical doctor. He's written 8 books most of which deal with this explosive subject, the healing power of prayer. Larry, welcome to The Evidence.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Dwight, it's great to be with you.

Dwight Nelson:

I'm telling you, explosive is the word. Wow. Is this stuff really for real?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Dwight, the key point here is that this is bottom line no fooling around solid, bullet proof evidence in my judgment.

Dwight Nelson:

This is not fringe medicine?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

No. This is beyond what we call anecdote and just patient stories.

Dwight Nelson:

Ok.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

This is an approach whereby we put prayer to the test like we would a surgical procedure or a drug. And you can hang your hat on some of these studies.

Dwight Nelson:

Now when you say we put prayer to the test, what kind of praying?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Usually the people who are doing the praying are invited to pray in the way that is most authentic and meaningful for them. You...

Dwight Nelson:

Christian?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Christian.

Dwight Nelson:

Jew,

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Yes.

Dwight Nelson:

Judaism...

Dr. Larry Dossey:

...yes, Jewish prayer.

Dwight Nelson:

Islamic prayers

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Hindu,

Dwight Nelson:

Buddhist, the whole thing

Dr. Larry Dossey:

You name it.

Dwight Nelson:

Ok, now I've got your book here. This is your newest book, Re-Inventing Medicine, correct?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

That is it.

Dwight Nelson:

You... not allude. You actually spend a couple pages on this incredible study of aids victims.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

That's right.

Dwight Nelson:

You put... you took the toughest human condition and applied prayer. What happened?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Well the study did look at AIDS for which there is no medical cure. And the people not only had AIDS Dwight, they had advanced AIDS. This was not early AIDS.

Dwight Nelson:

I see.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

And so in the double blind study again, no one knows...

Dwight Nelson:

Nobody knows.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

No one knows.

Dwight Nelson:

Somebody is praying for me or not praying.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

That's right. People are treated conventionally with the best medical care but half the people are extended what the researchers call distant healing which often involves prayer. And so the people who...

Dwight Nelson:

Now when you say distance, excuse me Larry.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

yes.

Dwight Nelson:

But you say distant, you could be a 100 miles away or 200 miles away, not just across town, not down the hall.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

The other side of the earth.

Dwight Nelson:

Is that right?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

These people in some studies have been separated as far apart as you can get two people.

Dwight Nelson:

Is that right?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

On the other side of the earth. And the effect still comes through. So in the AIDS study the people who receive the distant healing also known as prayer...

Dwight Nelson:

Ok.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

...died less frequently. They had fewer what we call AIDS related illnesses that kill people with AIDS such as meningitis and pneumonia. They had to go to the doctor less. They had to go to the hospital into the hospital less. And if they were hospitalized they got out sooner than the people not receiving the prayer. Their mental state was healthier and better during the treatment period. And I will assure you that if what was being evaluated had not been prayer or distant healing but a drug, this would have been called a therapeutic miracle.

Dwight Nelson:

A break through. By the way, this is getting into medical schools now? People are actually allowing this to become a part of the curriculum?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Yeah, it's spreading.

Dwight Nelson:

Really, how many medical schools are into this?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Well, 7 years ago there were only 3 who had anything to do with this. Currently, out of the nation's 125 medical schools, over 60 have actual courses looking at this evidence.

Dwight Nelson:

Is that right? Duke University is in on this?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Duke is big. This is the most high profile study going on...

Dwight Nelson:

...that's incredible.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

...in the country now.

Dwight Nelson:

Yeah.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

And at this study at Duke this involves people with angioplasty who have to have this done on an emergency basis. That's where they dilate your coronary arteries.

Dwight Nelson:

Right.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

So they solicit prayer from prayer groups from around the world for the people in the treatment group. We have Hindu prayer, Buddhist prayer.

Dwight Nelson:

If I were in the hospital I would sure want to be on that prayed group.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Well you should want to because here's what the study shows. The people who receive the prayer have a 50-100% fewer side effects from these angioplasty procedures than the people who are just treated ordinarily. You'd better hope that you get involved in the prayed for group.

Dwight Nelson:

Fascinating. Now look it, not only, and this is what is so intriguing to me as I was reading your book, not only is prayer effecting the one being prayed for, but you got a section here on the effect on the prayor, the one who is doing the praying. Explain.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Yeah, this isn't often looked at but it should be. You know if you talk to people who pray and believe that prayer works, and you pick at them and you say, why do you do this? Sooner or later they will just sort of throw up their hands and say, well, you know, it kind of makes me feel good.

Dwight Nelson:

Yeah.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

And so there is one study that looked at the health benefits not only of the group receiving the prayer, but what happened to the people during this study who were actually doing the praying? And they improved equally. The people's health who were doing the praying improved equally compared to the people who were receiving the prayer. So this stuff seems to be good not only for the prayee but for the prayor...

Dwight Nelson:

as well. Ok, so I'm watching The Evidence right now. And I'm thinking, I got to try this. What should I do? I want to become a prayor. Larry, what do you tell me to do?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Here's what is most important. And if you were praying you need to look inside your heart and see whether or not you have compassion and love and deep, genuine caring for the person you are praying for. If you have that, your prayer is probably going to work.

Dwight Nelson:

Not because there is something emanating from the organism itself because you talk about that's been actually squashed. But something else is happening. What's happening?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

I'm glad you brought this up. You know, people talk about sending energy when they pray. Forget energy. There's nothing that is apparently sent.

Dwight Nelson:

No transmission.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Nothing seems to be transmitted.

Dwight Nelson:

Ok

Dr. Larry Dossey:

We've got to go beyond those old energy concepts about how prayer works. We're into a new way of thinking here. This is tough for people to get over. Because when people when we think about praying, we think about sending something to somebody.

Dwight Nelson:

So it comes out of me, all thought consciousness now. It's received by the, I believe you call it the absolute, is that it?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Well the absolute is my favorite term for the Almighty, for God. Listen, we should not get hung up on how this stuff works. What medicine is really good at is saying that it works. We don't understand how prayer works at a distance. We just have to be honest about that. But you know, often in medicine Dwight, we know that something works before we have a clue about how it works.

Dwight Nelson:

Ok.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

We can do the studies and show that it works, but we may be a while in understanding how. But that's all right.

Dwight Nelson:

And the critics are standing up and cheering.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Well the critics...some of them...I was a critic. I came around. Many of the critics have sort of been won over by the evidence.

Dwight Nelson:

have they?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

I must say there is a vocal small number of cynics and critics who probably will never make the transition who think this is just absolute heresy and nonsense but progress will just sort of leave them in the dust.

Dwight Nelson:

Final question.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

yeah.

Dwight Nelson:

Your own journey. You started out believing in prayer as a kid. You allude to it in both these books.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Right.

Dwight Nelson:

What happened?

Dr. Larry Dossey:

I went away to college, fell in love with science...

Dwight Nelson:

Yeah.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Became an agnostic.

Dwight Nelson:

Yeah.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Thought that I had finished with all things religious and spiritual. But after becoming a physician I saw patients who got well with prayer. I bumped into the evidence for the scientific evaluation of prayer. And frankly I got to the point of saying, look, this looks as if it meets the criteria of science. Are you going to honor this in your own life with your patients and pray for your patients? And I answered that affirmatively. And then I began to follow the research and encourage the research in this area and so I can't imagine my life working without prayer.

Dwight Nelson:

Larry Dossey, great to have you on the program.

Dr. Larry Dossey:

Thanks Dwight.

Dwight Nelson:

God bless you. what do you think? Would you like some more information? I'd like to invite you to check our interactive website. You can find us at www.theevidence.org I'll be back in just a moment with some closing thoughts.



Dwight Nelson:



Anatole Levitin was a Russian writer and historian who spent years in a Siberian gulag. You would think that prayer in a place like that would seem frozen to the ground. But Levitin came back with a surprising discovery. The greatest miracle of all is prayer he would later write. I have only to turn mentally to God and at once I feel a force that pours into me from somewhere, into my soul, into my whole being. We've looked at hard evidence today indicating that prayer does make things happen. Scientific studies have highlighted the connection between prayer and response in impressive ways. And yet I think it's important to remember that all our prayers have one essential answer, God. Our prayers are much more answerable as a means to that end. I have a feeling that's the secret to those individuals who have reported such dramatic answers to prayer. They are really aiming at something beyond. The greatest thrill of answered prayer isn't necessarily getting what we ask for. But reaching out to touch some one beyond yourself, to touch someone who has always been there. In other words, to commune with the Divine. For me, my conversations with God are one of the greatest evidences that God exists. That's what I think. I'm Dwight Nelson. Join us next time for more of The Evidence.







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