Intercessory Prayer – Mapping the Field of Subtle Energy Healing

July 1, 2015

National data from the General Social Survey’s analysis from 1972 to 2006 indicates that up to 97% of Americans pray, with some 57% reporting that they pray at least once a day (General Social Survey, 2008). The act of praying for the welfare of others is termed “intercessory prayer” in the scientific literature, a term which specifies that such prayers serve as an intercession with God’s will on the behalf of others. This term typically denotes distant healing studies conducted with prayer agents of a Christian faith. It is important to note that different sects within Christianity espouse different beliefs concerning the nature of prayer, God’s will, and which living creatures are worthy of receiving benevolent attention from God (Lesniak, 2006); this must be considered in the design of distant healing experiments.

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This web resource serves as a selective literature review, highlighting the subtle energies and energy healing modalities that have been evaluated experimentally. This overview presents a brief description of a particular therapeutic modality, including background on the origins of the modality for readers completely unfamiliar with them. The overview also includes a summary of the theories that have been put forth to explain the mechanism of action underlying the purported efficacy of the modality. Additionally, a description of the procedures that healers undergo when administering the treatments are presented in layperson’s language. Finally, results of published scientific reports on the modality are summarized such that readers can get a sense of the current state of the research.

This paper is part of the Mapping the Field of Subtle Energy Healing project sponsored by IONS in 2015. It is intended that this resource will assist patients and health professionals to navigate the vast field of subtle energies and energy healing modalities for use in their personal and professional endeavors. Additionally, the hope is that the collection of overviews will stimulate organization and cooperation among investigators doing research in this field.

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