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In another of the study's findings, a significantly higher number of the patients who knew that they were being prayed for — 59 percent — suffered complications, compared with 51 percent of those who were uncertain. The authors left open the possibility that this was a chance finding. But they said that being aware of the strangers' prayers also may have caused some of the patients a kind of performance anxiety.
"It may have made them uncertain, wondering am I so sick they had to call in their prayer team?" Dr. Bethea said.
The study also found that more patients in the uninformed prayer group — 18 percent — suffered major complications, like heart attack or stroke, compared with 13 percent in the group that did not receive prayers. In their report, the researchers suggested that this finding might also be a result of chance.
One reason the study was so widely anticipated was that it was led by Dr. Benson, who in his work has emphasized the soothing power of personal prayer and meditation.
At least one earlier study found lower complication rates in patients who received intercessory prayers; others found no difference. A 1997 study at the University of New Mexico, involving 40 alcoholics in rehabilitation, found that the men and women who knew they were being prayed for actually fared worse.
Read the whole thing here. Maybe this is why our Lord said to pray for those who persecute us...?