This project is at the boundary between theology and science using a rigorous, open-minded and empirically focused methodology. It examines whether there is a way for the practice of intercessory prayer to become more effective and more generally influential in promoting well-being and changing one’s life.
We proposed that just as physical exercise may benefit an individual more if it is done regularly and with a focus on particular key physical systems, intercessory prayer for one’s partner may show enhanced benefits if it is done regularly and in a manner that captures key psychological processes. Nothing is likely to be a more immediate and more powerful reward for the participants than the recognition that prayer is helping their marital relationships. On the other hand, documenting the benefits to psychological and physical health will be powerful in convincing researchers and policy makers of the value of intercessory prayer as a spiritual exercise.
The rationale for this project was based on the conviction that enhanced spirituality will promote social relationships, individual mental health, and individual physical health outcomes. We expected to find evidence in the social arena to support Sir John Templeton’s prediction that “if governments encourage people to become more spiritual there will be a reduction in healthcare.”