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As a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, I deal with death and new life almost daily. I make numerous decisions regarding which diagnoses to pursue, which tests to run, and which treatment to use first. I step into a room asking myself how best to communicate both the certainties and uncertainties to my patient.
Yet, there is one question I never ask: "Should I pray?" I never ask it because prayer is part of who I am; not only by creed but also by the life-defining relationship between me as a healer and the One who heals all. I never ask it because when life itself is at stake and the patient lies opened on the table, I no more pause to reconsider the foundations than I would pause to ask, "Should I breathe?"
Yet I delighted to read Myers's spunky and provocative article. My response to the "yes or no" answer he calls for is, yes and yes. I expect the "prayed-for-blind" group to fare better than the "not-prayed-for-blind" group, and the "prayed-for-aware" group to fare best of all as measured by the "Harvard Prayer Experiment." I say my first yes (the "prayed-for-blind" group will do better than those not prayed for) because many other studies have turned out thus, and I do not expect the massive Harvard experiment to offer different results. My second yes means that I believe prayer has more power in community, and that social support fosters better inner states and, hence, better outcomes.
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