Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Day of Prayer prompts reflections on the practice

From Houston-

Millions of Americans will gather today to pray for the United States and its leaders, remembering the victims of tornadoes that swept across the South, the national economy and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the National Day of Prayer will also prompt reflections on prayer itself.

"I don't think God's so much interested in you getting the right parking place," says the Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., rector of St. Martin's Episcopal Church. "I think all prayers are answered, but it's not always the way we want."

A growing body of research has addressed the issue — whether patients with heart disease are more likely to survive if others pray for them, for example — but the results have been mixed.
That hasn't stopped people from praying.

Almost 60 percent of Americans say they pray at least once a day, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, and Rice University sociologist Michael Emerson notes that those who believe in the healing power of prayer generally embrace studies that confirm their belief, while rejecting those that find no impact.

"Prayer brings a sense of control in an uncertain world," he said. "Whether it works or not, at the level of the supernatural, it works in giving humans a sense of control over their environment."

More here-

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