The idea that the prayers of one person can help another individual is common among world religions.
This type of prayer is called intercessory prayer because one person intercedes on another’s behalf to a higher power.
In 1988, San Francisco physician Randolph Byrd conducted a scientific experiment of 393 patients admitted to a hospital for cardiac treatment.
Byrd enlisted groups of religious people who’d never met the patients to pray for these individuals’ swift and uncomplicated recovery.
He divided the patients into groups who were prayed for and those who weren’t.
Byrd found that 85 percent of those who received intercessory prayer had speedy recoveries, compared to 73 percent among the group who didn’t receive prayer.
Replications of Byrd’s study have found mixed results.