Researching Prayer

Hosted byJohn B. Wells


Researching Prayer

About the show

John B. Wells was joined by prayer researcher, Bill Sweet, for a discussion on scientific laboratory tests he's conducted to measure the good and bad motivations of prayer and the effectiveness of asking for help from above. He opined that understanding the power of prayer can be difficult because humans live in a material world and often focus on effect rather than cause. To that end, he likened prayer to a "non-material metaphysical power" and used the metaphor of lifting a 500 pound box by way of a lever. He noted that, in this example, neither the person nor the lever actually perform the task, since leverage is the force which does the lifting. "It's in another dimension and it's operating in a way that we can see it in our dimension," he said, of both leverage and, ultimately, prayer.

Sweet detailed how his research has indicated that there are two distinct forms of prayer and that one is far more powerful than the other. The first type is "goal-directed prayer," which occurs when a person prays for a specific outcome. Contrasting this, he said, is "non goal-directed prayer," where the intended result is simply "what is best for the situation." According to Sweet, this second type of prayer sees stronger effects because it instills order into a situation rather than attempting to manipulate the outcome. He contended that "non goal-directing prayer actually sends mending effects out" and cause the situation to come to an ideal conclusion. When praying without an intended outcome, he observed, "it's the unexpected that you expect."

"It's easier to have a wrong thought in a prayer than a right one," Sweet suggested, "because a lot of people are praying amiss." To that end, he cited instances where studies of the effects of prayers on plants resulted in the targets being damaged by inadvertent, albeit well intentioned, thoughts. This accidental manipulation in the wrong direction, he said, is one of the dangers of goal-directed prayers. Additionally, Sweet revealed that his lab has studied the power of negative thought, which showed the ability to kill the plant. "This is scary stuff," he mused, "the power of thought." Sweet was so convinced of the immense power of prayer that he put forward the idea that "the really good prayers of the world are helping to hold a thin veneer on civilization" and, without it, society could collapse.


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