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A rigorous new double-blind study contradicts earlier research on the power of prayer.

Praying for sick strangers does not improve their prospects of recovering, according to a large, carefully designed study that casts doubt on the widely held belief that being prayed for can help a person heal.

The researchers acknowledged that it was impossible to make any firm conclusions because of the difficulty of studying something such as prayer. The study, for example, could not accurately measure factors as fundamental as the “dose” of prayer administered and could not account for the possible effects of family members praying for patients on their own, the researchers noted.

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