Scientific Research


Blog Post #4

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Dr. Parker’s year-long research experiment into the healing power of prayer was conducted in 1951 at Redlands University. 45 people were given five relevant, scientifically approved tests by an independent psychometrist and they were equally divided into three groups.

Group 1 received “just plain psychology” with no mention of prayer or religion. Group 2 “prayed regularly” about their problems but received no psychological help. Group 3 was counseled in “prayer therapy” – the psychological techniques of introspection along with specific prayer techniques.

The individuals were tested again at the end of the study. The results showed that Group 1, those receiving only psychotherapy, made a noticeable 65% improvement. Group 2, those who prayed regularly, made almost no progress,** backsliding in some cases. Group 3, those who received prayer therapy, made a 72% improvement, of which some was dramatically obvious.

Dr. Parker’s scientific exploration on the subject of prayer is recorded in the book: “Prayer Can Change Your Life” (Dr. William R. Parker and Elaine St. Johns, 1979, Cornerstone Library, NY, reprinted, 1991, Simon and Schuster.)  It provides an understanding of what successful prayer must be – regular, positive, honest, an act of surrender, a practice in listening and in receiving – all with an emphasis on Love.

Excerpts from the book:

“We saw definite proof that our prayers are answered in kind – negative prayer will produce negative results.” (**Their research indicated that Group 2’s "regular prayer" focused on the negative aspect on their problems.)

“We have found prayer by affirmation more powerful than prayer by petition for two obvious reasons. It places the answering medium within and not far off, and it offered food to the subconscious.”

(On honest introspection:) “Until we do, we have little insight into what drives us, and why; in other words no conscious control over our decisions and actions.

“Surrender...a relaxed, gently trustful release of all our burdens to a Power greater than ourselves....”

“Regular (practice of) prayer establishes internal controls, which begin to give us spontaneously the response we need....”

“Communication with God had to be “two-way” communication if we were to receive the full benefit. If we wanted deeper answers, increased awareness, continuous unfoldment and growth, we had to open our consciousness and listen.

“True, our answers came as thoughts, feelings, impulses, intuition.

“The final act of complete prayer is to receive – accept a desired good and act from knowledge that it so.”

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2... Write It Down, Make It Happen

The author of Write it Down, Make it Happen, Henriette Anne Klauser, PhD, (1999 by Scribner, a Simon and Schuster imprint) states:

“All our years of brain research, all our current knowledge about the corpus callosum, the reticular activating system, and the workings of the human mind, and we are still left with an “aw shucks,” “golly gee” sense of wonder that “it works” – that setting your intent, focusing on the outcome, being clear about what you want in life can make your dreams come true.”

The corpus callosum is a band of nerve fibers that allows the brain’s right and left cerebral hemispheres to communication with each other. The reticular activating system (RAS) is a control center that influences consciousness. The RAS, a set of connected nuclei, originates in the brain stem’s medulla oblongata and extends up into the neocortex – the area where thought and higher brain functions occur. The RAS is “activated” by sensory stimulation. It filters out distracting stimulus and responds to stimulus that is deemed important by the amount of conscious emphasis, concentration or focus the stimulant is given.

Dr. Klauser continues:

“Putting a goal in writing.....sets up a filter that helps you be aware of certain things in your surroundings. Writing triggers the RAS, which in turn sends a signal to the cerebral cortex: ‘Wake up! Pay attention! Don’t miss this detail!’ Once you write down a goal, your brain will be working overtime to see you get it, and will alert you to the signs and signals that...were there all along."

Here’s an example, two actually, of how science says the reticular activating system works:

Several months ago, in a moment of frustration fueled by a sense of isolation, I wrote in my journal: “God, am I the only prayer writer on the planet?” A day or two later a small headline, way down on my internet news feed, caught my attention. The headline read:  “A Nurse’s Prayers Were Answered.”

The article reported that Lorraine, a Tallahassee nurse, had been praying to adopt a child who needed her. Based on the movie, “The War Room: Prayer is a Powerful Weapon,” she continually wrote her prayers, conversations and thoughts to God on paper and posted them in her prayer closet. She went about setting up the nursery, doing the necessary work to receive approval for adoption and waited patiently without losing faith. On a chilly day in May, an abandoned infant was brought to the emergency room where Lorraine was working. She became the child’s medical care advocate, and soon after, the child’s adoptive parent.

Suffice to say, my reticular activating system received my emphatic handwritten plea - the stimulus - and directed me to my desired outcome. And for Lorraine, it did the same. To read her full story, (2017,, click here.

The movie, “War Room: Prayer is a Powerful Weapon” (2015, Provident/Affirm Film Production, Sony Music Entertainment) portraits spiritual principals that are applicable to all who seek to know God. For me, a “prayer closet” is any quiet place dedicated to contemplation and meditation on God. My prayer-conversations are written on eggs or in common grocery store notebooks. And the movie's “War Room strategy" seems to me to be a personal relationship with God, one that helps manifest one's higher Self in all situations. 

Additional excerpts from Dr. Klauser’s book:

“I say, ‘From your pen to God’s ears!’ And why not? Praying on paper is a way of acknowledging God’s presence in your life, asking for help, and giving thanks... Prayer is not just supplication, but praise and thanksgiving.”

“Writing clarifies what it is you are asking for.”

The book also features many practical suggestions including: Carry a notebook to record inspiration when it occurs. Writing fast without editing can reveal your true feelings on a specific topic. Write letters to God before sleeping, awake to answers in the morning.

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This Michigan State University research study by Hans Schroder, Jason Moser and Tim Moran, funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, published in Psychophysiology, 2017, provides the first neural evidence for the benefits of expressive writing.

“Our findings show that if you get...worries out of your head through expressive writing, ... cognitive resources are freed to work toward the task you are completing and you become more efficient.”

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Gail Matthews, Professor of Psychology, Dominican University of California, who conducted the Goals Research Summary in 2015, writes:

“The positive effect of written goals was supported: Those who wrote their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write their goals.”


Copyright © 2018 Nancy Kopack.
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