The (Lack of) Power of Prayer

For the last few years, there's been a fair amount of talk about the medical power of prayer. A few interesting studies came out saying there might be some positive benefit and the excitement swelled from there, hitting every pulpit and spiritual book in the nation. But this week, a study of cardiology patients pretty well disproved it:

The study of more than 700 heart patients, one of the most ambitious attempts to test the medicinal power of prayer, showed that those who had people praying for them from a distance, and without their knowledge, were no less likely to suffer a major complication, end up back in the hospital or die.

I've never resented the hope that prayer could heal -- that's merely human. But the idea that it could, particularly in the scattershot way the other studies showed, always seemed fairly problematic. So if you pray God makes the ill 5-10% better? And He only does that for some of them? And what of the lonely, who have no one to pray for them? It almost seemed more theologic trouble then it was worth.