Monday, December 18, 2017

The Science Of Prayer

 There is a definite method or "science" to prayer. The Church, and all Her great saints, remind us that prayer has four ends, or purposes, namely; to adore God, to atone for sin and beg forgiveness, to thank God for all He has done, and to petition Him for our needs and wants. I try to remember this at Mass and when I pray the Rosary. I remember to pray for the needs and spiritual goods of all my readers. Recently, a good friend of mine asked me to pray for his parents who are, sadly, both very ill. He is not even Christian, but believes in the power of prayer. I have hopes for his conversion one day. Unlike my friend, there are those who disparage prayer as "useless" and an "excuse not to do something."

 In 2006, there was what is now known as the "Benson Study," named after the chief medical and scientific researcher on the project, Dr. Herbert Benson. It was a large-scale statistical study purporting to show whether petitionary prayer for recovery from illness has any effect. Talk about "putting God to the test"! (See e.g., Deuteronomy 6:16, and St. Luke 4:12). Patients who had had coronary artery bypass graft surgery at 6 US hospitals were randomly assigned to one of three patient groups.One patient group received intercessory prayer (for an uncomplicated recovery) after being informed that they may or may not receive prayer; one patient group did not receive prayer after being so informed; and one patient group received prayer after being informed that they would receive prayer. Individuals were prayed for by their first names only, and their identity was not known to those praying. Those praying belonged to one of three Christian groups. Complications occurred to 52 per cent of the first patient group, to 51 per cent of the second group, and to 59 per cent of the third group. The virtually identical figures for the first and second group, both of whom were uncertain whether they would receive prayer, was regarded as a "negative result" showing that intercessory prayer has no effect. (See Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: a multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer. 

Does the Benson Study Prove Prayer is Useless?

 While atheists and agnostics are cheering, the study does absolutely nothing to confirm prayer is useless or give credence to the alleged non-existence of God. Certainly, to want someone healed is a laudatory objective. However, that doesn't make prayer some kind of "magic" whereby God is bound to do what we want.  God hears our prayers, and answers them (if it is good for us) in a way best for us. Yet when we pray for another person, God knows far better than we do whether it will be best for that person and others affected by him, that he should recover immediately or later or not at all. According to theologian Ott, "The Fathers assert Divine foresight of conditioned future things when they teach that God does not always hear our prayers for temporal goods [such as the restoration of health], in order to prevent their misuse; or that God allows a man to die at an early age in order to save him from eternal damnation [due to God's foreseen knowledge that the man would abuse his free will in old age and die in mortal sin]." (See Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, The Mercier Press [1955], pg.42; Parts in brackets are mine). 

It is also a truth that God uses suffering during our short stay here on Earth to make us better people. Suffering provides me the opportunity to become courageous and patient, as well as a chance to strengthen my faith in God despite of the suffering--like Job. My suffering gives others the chance to develop sympathy and help me both temporally and spiritually. Society has the chance to invest in ways to help suffering people like me, and choose to invest money to find a cure and give other means of support. Lastly, I can unite my suffering to the Suffering Savior Whom I follow and expiate for my sins and those of others. 

The Benson Study operates on the assumption that prayer, if efficacious (and assuming a Good God exists), should produce positive results whenever used by anyone. Besides the mistake of thinking that healing is the only (or greatest) good, the study also sees no merit in suffering. In addition, there are other problems which I will explore next.

Confounding Variables

 As a former NYC science teacher, I found this definition of a confounding variable to be both simple and right on target:
 Simply, a confounding variable is an extra variable entered into the equation that was not accounted for. Confounding variables can ruin an experiment and produce useless results. They suggest that there are correlations when there really are not. In an experiment, the independent variable generally has an effect on the dependent variable. For example, if you are researching whether a lack of exercise has an effect on weight gain, the lack of exercise is the independent variable and weight gain is the dependent variable. A confounding variable would be any other influence that has an effect on weight gain. Amount of food consumption is a confounding variable, a placebo is a confounding variable, or weather could be a confounding variable. Each may change the effect of the experiment design.(See 

First Confounding Variable: Putting God to an Explicit Test
According to theologian Jone, the essence of the sin of tempting God is to make an experiment of one of the perfections of God (His Wisdom, Power, etc.) God is tempted explicitly if one does something or asks something for the purpose of ascertaining whether He possess a certain power or here and now uses it. The sin of tempting God is always mortal sin. (See Moral Theology, The Newman Press, MD, [1962], pg.100).Don't expect God to answer prayers that are motivated by sinful desires.

Second Confounding Variable: Dishonest Prayer
According to philosopher of religion, Professor Richard Swinburne, why would God answer prayers to test someone's hypothesis? They are not really praying out of compassion for the afflicted, but to further some experiment. In the Benson Study, people were not praying out of genuine love and compassion for the afflicted. They didn't even know for whom they were praying. This might be called "dishonest prayer" or prayer from insincere/non-compassionate reasons. (See  Science and Theology News, April 7, 2006; Swinburne, Richard, Response to a Statistical Study of the Effect of Petitionary Prayer ).  

Third Confounding Variable: All Prayers Are Not Equal
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Rosary are by far superior to all other prayers. Were these used? Were there any Traditionalists? God will only help non-Catholics to dispose them to eternal salvation in the One True Church.  The prayer of a devout Traditionalist in the state of grace is most efficacious because "Without faith, it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6). The only true Faith is that of the Traditionalist Catholic Church.

The True Power of Prayer

 It is a truth that God knows all things with infallible certainty. If that is the case, how is prayer effective? If God knows a certain person will die as the result of a car crash, but people pray for his recovery and the person survives, then God didn't "know" he would die as the result of a car crash; He seemingly "changed His mind." The Bible does speak in such terms, but it's a metaphorical way of speaking, not literal. According to theologian Molina, God has predestined things according to the foreseen merits and demerits of people. Since God already knew you would pray, He took those prayers into account before He ordered the universe (See, e.g. discussion of Molina and predestination in Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, pg. 243). We also see in the Bible how God knew how people would react in any given situation. For example we read in St. Matthew 11:21, " “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes." God knew how the people would have responded to miracles. 

 So when you pray, remember that God has factored your prayers into His Divine Plan!


We can't have "scientific studies" that will prove or disprove the power of prayer. The true science of prayer has been outlined by the great saints, most notably St. Francis de Sales, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St Alphonsus Liguori, St. Louis de Montfort, and St. John of the Cross (among others). There has been given significance to your prayers from all eternity by Almighty God. I'll never forget (and try to live by) the aphorism Fr. DePauw passed on to me: "Remember! Pray as if everything depends on God--which it does. But then act as if everything depends on you!" 


  1. "The only true Faith is that of the Traditionalist Catholic Church."

    I dislike this statement. There is no such thing as "The Traditionalist Catholic Church." That sounds schismatic.

    There is the "Catholic Church." And then there are those who deviated from the Faith, and thus threw themselves into schism, i.e., Lutherans, Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists etc.

    The Novus Ordo Church is no different in terms of its separation from the Catholic Church. But the insidious difference is that satan and his cohorts decided this time to create a schism where the offshoot apes the Catholic Church, so as to cause as much damage, confusion and chaos as possible.

    I,for one, proudly identify myself thusly: My name is Christian, my surname is Catholic. I identify Francis as a heretic and apostate, leader of the schismatic "Novus Ordo Church of the Ecumenism Apostasy."
    I remain simply "Catholic." I'm not changing a thing to accommodate Frankie & Co.

    1. You make an excellent point, which several other of my readers have brought to my attention. My reason is for using that term is a proselytizing technique. When people ask, “What’s your religion?” I respond, “Traditionalist.” The inevitable follow-up question is “What’s a Traditionalist?” I can now talk about the Church. If I say “Catholic,” they will, unfortunately, believe I’m a member of the Vatican II sect!


    2. I believe that the Lord will take into account the ignorance of many Novus ordo members who have good intentions. I believe the Lord listens to you.

    3. The world getting to the point where its very obvious who cares about the true Catholic Church and who is just along for the ride.
      (No offense to anyone)

  2. I take your point entirely. In that context there is definitely validity for using that terminology, and doubtless you get around to letting them know that it is in fact you who is the Catholic in the equation. Essentially, it's a method to ease you into conversations which will hopefully bear fruit. I get it. :)

  3. I have read where Frankie the fake thinks he can reword the Lord's Prayer to suit himself. I am so fed-up and tired of the gospel according to Jorge Bergolio.

    1. You read that story correctly Joann! In the V2 sect NOTHING is sacred!


  4. Great Article as usual. Jesus and Mary, David

  5. Introibo. Nice article. How about talking about the supposed eucharistic miracles at the mass novus bogus? I do not believe them. But I see that this is one of the main flags of Bishop Williamson's so-called Resistance (Withdrawal) against sedevacantism. Nice work for the truth! May God bless you enormously.

    1. I actually did such a post in the past, See
      From 12/7/15.

      Thank you for the kind words my friend!

      God Bless,


  6. Introibo~
    You most probably know who Mario Lanza was, and you may even have his Christmas album. But for those who don't know of him I thought I'd post a link.

    Merry XMAS!

    1. Merry Christmas to you and all my readers !


    2. Anonymous 4
      "On yoolis night" &
      "Hungarian Christmas" are excellent Christmas lp's.
      Some of the tracks are on YouTube.
      These are 13th & 15th century Catholic hymns basically.

  7. Thank you for your efforts and defending the true faith in an honest manner.
    We both acknowledge the Thuc line,Mendez and Lefevbre lines,agree upon the after Midnight Holy Communion fast (if possible without affecting your health)
    using the SSPX for Holy Mass & Sacraments,(if valid priest/bishop is on the altar) etc...
    You are doing God's work Brother.
    Our former priest (God rest his Soul) and you personally helped me with accepting/understanding BOD/BOB,and subsequent necessary knowledge.
    God bless you and your Family.
    Merry Christmas Catholic Brother.
    P.S. I am of the opinion if an Indult has a validily ordained priest (pre-August 1968 or former SSPX priest is the norm for Indults if they're valid.I read there is one Thuc line priest at the Clear Creek Indult in Oklahoma)
    My reasoning is the world has become such an immoral cesspool ála Sodom & Gomorrah,any valid Holy Sacrifice is better than nothing if it's all someone has available.
    I once attended an Indult with a priest who was ordained in the early 1950's.It was my only time visiting California in 2013.
    This priest used the 1945 Missal, including the Asperges Me,
    2nd Confiteor,Leonine Prayers,etc...
    He made one younger girl (early 20's) who had her hand's in front of her,receive Holy Communion on the tongue.
    No it's the norm but that Holy Mass is better than not going.
    God bless!!

    1. Your comment was a wonderful Christmas present! Merry Christmas and God Bless my friend in Christ!