Recently the Mayo Clinic released a study saying prayer had no effect on rates of death, heart attacks, strokes and hospitalization. In effect, the study concluded prayer doesn't work.
The study was conducted by cardiologist Dr. Stephen Kropecky and involved 799 adult patients.
For one who prays regularly and has spoken with hundreds of people who make prayer a regular part of their day, it was startling to find that this so vital element of my life "doesn't work."
Then I began to consider something. What does it mean "prayer doesn't work?" Does it mean there are no benefits at all to lifting one's voice to the Lord and thanking Him for the sun, rain and fantastic snow we are experiencing this year? Does it mean that interceding on behalf of my family, neighbors or work-colleagues produces no results? Does it mean that to plead to God for wisdom or direction in a difficult situation is futile?
The Mayo study "prayer had no significant effect on patients' medical outcomes ..." Perhaps that's not the purpose of prayer. Maybe Dr. Kropecky was studying the wrong thing.
According to God's word - since it's to God we pray we should follow His instructions and look for the results He promises - prayer is not about achieving results so much as it is about communicating with Him and opening myself up to Him.
Jesus says at one point, "I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me." (Rev. 3:20)
What God wants from us is not that we copy magicians who seek results, but Christ-followers who seek fellowship (depicted in His Word as eating with Him).
Prayer is communicating with God. It is intentionally entering His presence and seeking to know Him and to be known by Him. Prayer isn't meant to change the circumstances we find ourselves in - even terrible health crisis - prayer is meant to change us.
James Hukari is a member of the Carson City Ministerial Fellowship.