This week’s Torah passage, Ekev, challenges us to serve God “with all our hearts” (Deuteronomy 11:13). The Talmud explains that this “service of the heart” refers to prayer. From this the requirement for Jews to pray every day is derived. We can take the opportunity to learn a little more about prayer.
A 2001 study of a group of 150 heart patients at Duke University Medical Centre uncovered some extraordinary results. The patients, all of whom received postoperative therapy, were divided into two subgroups – one subgroup prayed for their well-being, the other subgroup did not. The results showed that the subgroup that was prayed for had significantly better treatment outcomes than the group that only received regular treatment.
Most notably, the study was double-blind – neither the researchers nor the participants knew about the prayers. And it wasn’t a one-off event either. A comparable double-blind study conducted in the Corona Ward at San Francisco General Hospital showed very similar results.
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