Prayer Scorecard

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

We recall with considerable mirth the recent unsuccessful prediction of  The Rapture and subsequent world annihilation by Family Radio Worldwide leader Harold Camping who said he made the discovery after much study, reflection, and prayer. Sadly, Mr. Camping suffered a stroke after seeing the fall of his  Rapture prediction on May 21, 2011, and after spending an estimated $100 million dollars over seven years to “educate” the public on his prediction. Not to be outdone, the revised prediction is now set for October 21, 2011. It got me thinking about the success rates of some other famous prayerful requests and predictions:

2003 – In a study by cardiologists at Duke Medical Center, results showed that extensive prayer had no measurable effect on patient outcomes. “Over three years, 750 patients awaiting angioplasty, a procedure to clear obstructions from their arteries, were recruited for the experiment. Names selected at random by a computer were sent to the 12 prayer groups, who began praying immediately for their recovery. Neither the hospital staff nor the patients and their relatives knew who was being prayed for. The prayer groups included American Christian mothers, nuns in a Carmelite convent in Baltimore, Sufi Muslims, Buddhist monks in Nepal and English doctors and medical students in Manchester. Prayers were even e-mailed to Jerusalem and placed in the Wailing Wall. An analysis of the results found that there were no significant differences in the recovery and health of the patients who were prayed for and those who were not.”

2007 — Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue takes to the podium on the lawn in front of the Georgia Statehouse to publicly pray for rain for the drought striken bible-belt state. Two days later drizzling rain comes to parts of Georgia but the National Weather Service figures show it didn’t put a dent in the overall water deficit. Atlanta saw less than one inch of rain for the month. Georgia averages between 45 and 75 inches of rain annually with a 30 year average of 50 inches, however since the public prayer service, the State has received the following annual rainfalls:
2007 31.85 inches
2008 41.43 inches
2009 69.43 inches
2010 48.15 inches
2011 21.93 inches (through May)

According to the Atlanta Journal & Constitution,the  Georgia continues in drought conditions this summer.

2011 — In April, Texas Governor Rick Perry asks residents to pray for rain to end a historic drought and slow down the spread of raging wildfires. In May, which usually receives about 5 inches of rainfall, 29.9 mm (1.18 inches) of precipitation was recorded by In the hardest hit areas, less than half an inch of rain fell during May.  In June, reports that 14.6 mm (.575 inches) fell but most areas in Texas have received less than 0.1 inches of rain.®ion=SRCC. The average monthly rainfall in June is  about 3 inches. Since the prayer proclamation, the drought in Texas has worsened and the affected areas have more than tripled. The drought is now classified as “exceptional” in some areas.

I am sure there are examples which suggest  that prayer really does have some effect on earthly events or that we simply haven’t waited long enough to know.  But, as the above very public requests and predictions show, unanswered prayer is still in the divine lexicon.

~Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

12 thoughts on “Prayer Scorecard”

  1. Still the most trenchant observation on the subject – from Christopher Durang’s 1979 comedy, Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All for You: “All our prayers are answered, only sometimes the answer is no.”

  2. Well, rafflaw, the way things are a’goin’ we citizens will likely be prayin’ and kneelin’ for mercy before the 9 Supreme Beings on the Court…

    These are the Supreme’s I prefer:

  3. The real problem with prayer is that aside from being very nearly the least you can do to resolve a problem, no one stops to ponder why they need to pray for something in the first place. Certainly a divine being would know what we need and what is good for us, so us needing to ask said deity for its intervention makes no sense. Compound upon that the assumption the deity could resolve a problem that it couldn’t prevent from happening in the first place. Unless of course the divine is lonely or needy and chooses to throw troubles in our way so we will stop to talk to it.

    But that would be heresy or something.

  4. Prayer is a weird animal IMO, maybe it’s not the prayers themselves that are failing, perhaps it’s directing them to, and filtering them through, a non-existent anthropomorphic deity that’s the problem. Maybe they’re just being misdirected.

  5. The funny thing about prayer … very seldom does theology admit to testing God with a “show us your stuff” exam, referring said suggestions to Job.

    Ah, mysticism …

    Back to the pool to contemplate … with a perfectly nutritious Bloody Mary in hand.

  6. Family upset after women leaves inheritance to Harold Camping’s ministry

    By: Jennifer Riley, Christian Post
    Friday, 3 June 2011, 17:36 (IS)
    “A lonely woman who believed in the teachings of Harold Camping recently died and left nearly her entire estate to Family Radio. Her family members believe that had she lived long enough to see the May 21 prediction fail, she would not have left her inheritance to the Christian radio network behind the failed doomsday claim.

    CNN Money reports that Doris Schmitt, who died at the age of 78 on May 2, 2010, left Family Radio about $250,000 out of the $300,000 she had. The remaining amount, according to her will, is divided between two of her nieces. No other relatives were left any money. Schmitt had died alone in her Queens, NY-home after losing her two children to drug addiction.”

  7. “In a study by cardiologists at Duke Medical Center, results showed that extensive prayer had no measurable effect on patient outcomes.”

    They spent money on this?

  8. Rev. Camping was right about the Rapture. Unfortunately, he was the only one holy enough to be raptured. The rest of us will just have to wait.

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