If nobody believed in superstition it would be unable to hurt anyone

 

Praying for sick people who are aware of it can make them worse

Nobody thinks that when you pray for something you always get what you ask for. If God is all good and all powerful he will give you what is best for you whether you ask or not. He should be bigger than any mistakes you make or any prayers that you have failed to say. But believers seem to argue that even if that is true, you get a benefit from asking. It is good to ask even if you seem to get nothing. That can only happen out of a placebo effect. This placebo would be dangerous for if you cannot contend with God or opt out of his plan even if you think you are then you are grovelling. That is not good for you or good for those who are impressed by your prayers for them.

 

It is felt that prayer suppresses critical thought. If somebody's baby is screaming in agony on their deathbed then instead of asking how God could deserve to be praised with prayer and by trust (petitionary prayer is praise in the sense that you are telling God you trust him) you just pray. Some say that we are saying petitionary prayer is just refusing to see that God or whatever lets this happen to the baby is to be condemned. We are thought to be saying faith is just refusing to see any faults. They would insist that praying does not imply you are not struggling with how God can let it happen for after all you are calling on him to act. But that amounts to trying to suppress any critical thoughts of God and religion and anything else that endorses prayer.

 

Religion has set up organisations and businesses and sold books which are all about praying for others who are sick. That is a waste for you can pray for people and still put in the hard work to help them. But religion is okay with people simply praying. They pray while those who cry out for their tears wiped are left to wipe them themselves.

 

And if a lot of prayers are said for you and you feel no benefit you or could will blame yourself. Those who pray for you are to take responsibility for that. But they will not. Even their not taking responsibility for how you could blame yourself is an insult. Praying people are often do-gooders.

 

If you take a placebo, the mere fact that you expect it to make you a lot better or feel better will make you feel healthier in mind and body. The problem is that this feeling could be misleading. What if you learn that something other than the placebo helped? Placebos are never guaranteed to help significantly or for long. When the power declines, you are at risk of thinking the placebo has turned against you or sickness is taking over. This can lead to you becoming ill again. It can stop any future placebo you are given from having an effect because the doubt sowed is something that could be there for life. A placebo is not to be recommended.

 

Let us talk about how people praying for you can trigger your placebo effect into helping you or making you worse (nocebo).

 

Optimistic patients who pray think prayer helps them. But are they praying because they are optimistic? They could be. You don’t need prayer to be optimistic. And optimism has a placebo effect for many. Expecting the best to happen diminishes pain, anxiety and depression. You can see and test how optimism helps you. You cannot test prayer for you cannot see what is in the mind of God. Even if there is a God, maybe you got what you asked for by pure chance. Optimism has helped people where prayer did not and could not. It is better to encourage optimism. Religion is a bad thing for it cares about getting you to pray. If it had a choice, prayer or optimism, it would not recommend optimism at all.

 

It is a fact that praying for another person to get well can make this person worse. Many illnesses do not respond significantly to a placebo. A placebo cannot make a person dying of terminal cancer get out of bed and dance for joy for the last ten minutes of life. Encouraging the placebo will help cause many people to get depressed. It may prolong terrible symptoms and produce lots of new bad health outcomes.


Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical found that praying for coronary bypass surgery patients who were told they were being prayed for made their health outcomes worse. They had complications after the surgery.

 

This problem did not happen to the same level when people were being prayed for and didn’t know. Nor to those who were not prayed for.

 

The Nocebo effect is suspected to be to blame for that.

 

Did the patients think they were not getting better or did they they think they were developing new problems and complications? If so, they would have probably have felt the prayers were not failing but they were the ones failing. If they wrongly think they were not helped by medical attention or getting worse that would actually make them worse. Not everything feeling of illness is a real illness. Did those harmed by the prayers of others feel they didn’t deserve any help from God and was praying for them rubbing that feeling in? If people pray for you and you think God is not helping then you will blame yourself and that will lead to a belief that you will not get better which ensures you will not get better and could get worse.

 

If you start to think it is not God's will to answer the prayers that will make you sicker.

 

Feeling that God has a purpose for making you ill and keeping you ill will make sure you stay ill. So will feeling that suffering in itself - regardless of the consequences - is a gift from God. The doctrine that evil is just a lack of good or the wrong use of good comes very close to saying that suffering is a gift.

 

Prayers from people who say a baby in throes of agony that nobody can do anything about are going to trigger a nocebo better than any placebo. That is simply because it comes across that they do not really care much and are condoning the evil of extreme suffering. Lots of people are okay with harm and evil when God does it. And they are more okay with it when it happens to others not them. Nobody has the right to say God is right to let the baby suffer for its his good plan when they would not willingly take that baby's place. The doubt alone about motives will be harmful. Also, the mere fact that people approve of your suffering, even if they are right to, can send the wrong message.

 

People do not respect your "free will". They will pray for you with or without your consent. That is no way to treat sick people who need to feel more in control of their situation and to feel supported by others if they want to try and regain some of that control.

 

Also, if you feel people are pressuring you to get better by praying for you you will feel expected to recover. That can lead to performance anxiety. That is a nocebo.

 

These things can cause praying for a patient who knows you are praying for her or him to become ill or get sicker.

 

If you are aware of how mind and body are so connected that if you believe you are seriously ill you can become sick. If you believe in the power of the nocebo imagine how harmful it will get if you also believe in God! Then you have God's will and the nocebo to worry about.

 

You can make a self-filling prophecy that does you great harm. You can make self-fulfilling prophecies about that prophecy too.

 

The self-help people and doctors urge people to have the right attitude and lifestyle to stay healthy which makes you feel guilty and ashamed if you get cancer or anything else that may be blamed on attitude and lifestyle. You will feel that the nocebo helped you develop the disease and believing that will lead to fearing it which will lead you to more illness.

 

It is a scandal how the power of prayer to help the sick is really a matter for medical professionals and religious people are stepping in where they should keep out of it. Doctors and medical professionals have a duty to ensure the patients get help that is help.

 

People who are in great distress may pray and find some emotional relief. But that relief cannot last. They have not gone to the root of their problems. When they pray and you reinforce any good feelings they think result by praying for them you are not doing them any true favours.
 
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