BLOOMINGTON, Ind., Aug. 6 (UPI) -- "Hands on" intercessory prayer -- praying physically near the person being prayed for -- by African Christians may have helped healing, U.S. researchers say.
Researchers at Indiana University Bloomington made direct measurements of the therapeutic effect of "proximal" prayer on vision and hearing impairments in an area of rural Mozambique where eyeglasses and hearing aids were not readily available.
The study, published in the Southern Medical Journal, reports measurements taken before and after subjects received proximal intercessory prayer indicate improvements much larger than those typically found in suggestion and hypnosis studies.
"We chose to investigate 'proximal' prayer because that is how a lot of prayer for healing is actually practiced by Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world," study leader Candy Gunther Brown says in a statement.
If people with a serious need for healing and willing to try almost anything feel a particular religious or spiritual practice healed them, Brown says, they are much more likely to become an adherent.
"This phenomenon, more than any other," the researcher says, "accounts for the growth of these Christian subgroups globally."
Brown and colleagues used an audiometer and vision charts to evaluate 14 rural Mozambican subjects with impaired hearing and 11 with impaired vision.
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