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Meditation 262
The Powerlessness of Prayer

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Every so often a report gets into the newspaper about a new study on the power of prayer. And invariably the results are that prayer has been proven to work.[1] Unfortunately when the study receives independent review and is found to be flawed, the newspapers do not see this as newsworthy, and this corrective information almost never reaches the general public.

Also, those who conduct these studies tend to looking for support for the power of prayer. Thus any studies they conduct which do not provide the right answers, tend to get buried. This is not unusual; we see many drug companies have traditionally followed the same practice.

Right now, I am unaware of any study which clearly demonstrates the power of prayer which has been conducted with full scientific rigor.

However, for a little over a year now, I have been conducting my own entirely unscientific study. In July last year I wrote[2] about Pat Robertson calling for the viewers of his 700 Club television program to pray that God create three vacancies on the US Supreme Court.

Given the size of his audience, it is not unreasonable to suppose that hundreds of thousands of prayers were offered up to God to achieve this end. Perhaps there were even millions of such prayers.

Considering the age of the current set of Supreme Court justices and the fact that there has not been a vacancy since 1994, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the natural course of events would have produced at least one vacancy by now. And if even that one had come about, yet alone two or three, Robertson would surely have been loudly proclaiming the effectiveness of prayer.

And yet, in fifteen months since Roberston's call for prayer, there has not been a single vacancy. And if there was a God, and that God wanted to answer[3] Pat Robertson's prayers, surely something would have happened by now.

This one prayer request admittedly is a small sample. But, I think sufficient to demonstrate that in the case of Pat Robertson and his followers, prayer has no power.



  1. This statement is no longer true. In 2006, the results of a properly conducted scientific study were released which failed to demonstrate any positive benefits from prayer for heart surgery patients
  2. Meditation 134 - Praying for a Miracle
  3. And don't write in with that balderdash about God's answer being "No." If there was a God, the appropriate rejection of such an arrogant request would have been to create those three vacancies at the head of Robertson's organization.