Prayer and health research: proxies, missed targets, and opportunities

Kevin L. Ladd, Bernard Spilka


The purpose of this article is to present a quick overview of the psychology of prayer and health research in the context of the United States and Europe. Its range is limited to primarily English literature. The conclusion is that the findings are thoroughly ambiguous. It is argued that this conclusion is fundamentally inevitable because, in most instances, the variable deemed prayer is actually a proxy for a wide constellation of beliefs and behavior. Suggestions are made for re-focusing the field on scientifically feasible, theologically sensitive studies of prayer.


Prayer; Health; Religion; Spirituality; Methodology.

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