Researching the Power of Prayer

August 9, 2003

Source: The Boston Globe

On August 9, 2003 The Boston Globe reported that "prayer is universal. During a recent talk at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, Dr. Larry Dossey, backed by Bach on a soothing piano recording, projected a series of photos depicting prayer around the world -- Catholics in Central America, Buddhist monks, people grieving loss, a doctor praying with his patients... This gentle parade moved many in the audience, but Dossey, a tall, bronzed New Mexican with an arrestingly ample white mane, had a deeper message than sentimentality: Praying for others may be the ultimate health insurance, a scientifically observable way of improving their physical well-being... It's no secret that religious faith can be healthy for the believer, and no mystery why. Embracing clean living, the devout may smoke or drink less on average. Moreover, repetetive, soothing practices like praying can ease stress, which is a factor in at least 60 percent of visits to physicians' offices, says Dr. Herbert Benson, founding president of the Harvard-affiliated Mind/Body Medical Institute... Stress reduction isn't limited to the religious, of course; there are other tranquil thoughts and activities besides prayer. "An agnostic could use the word 'peace' or 'love,' or he could do it through exercise,' Benson says."