The Pharisees didn't believe that a man born blind from birth could regain his sight, certainly not at the hands of a blasphemous lunatic who claimed to be the Son of God.
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. "Give glory to God," they said. "We know this man is a sinner."
25 He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"
26 Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
27 He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?"
I didn't have much to say about the recent study that failed to show the healing power of prayer until I got a phone call a few days ago from a friend who was dying from cancer. A few years ago she was diagnosed with a rare kind of nerve cancer and given 24 to 36 months to live. The cancer was fast-moving and always fatal within three years, and no hospital or clinic she went to would even attempt to treat her because they were sure that any treatment would fail and only degrade her remaining quality of life.
My wife and I, and dozens others, held a prayer meeting for our friend almost a year ago and asked God to intervene and spare her life. Since then she has seen numerous doctors -- most of whom turned her away -- and gone through chemotherapy, and a few days ago she called to tell me that her chemo had finished and her final test results had come in: no detectable cancer in her body.
So, that's hardly a scientific study, but despite the predictions of the doctors her treatment was astoundingly and inexplicably effective.
Studying the "power of prayer" is interesting, but I think it misses the point in a lot of ways. Prayer doesn't have power, God has power. Praying to God isn't like rubbing a magic lamp and making a wish, and it's not like putting a dollar into a vending machine and making a selection. Prayer is a conversation with your creator, who has his own agenda that all-too-often doesn't match up with yours because you're selfish and short-sighted. Jesus himself prayed to be delivered from the cross and was denied. If God decides that it's better for a man to suffer physically for spiritual purposes, does that mean that prayer has no power or that we simply don't know what to pray for? Perhaps Jesus' prayer was meant to serve an an example to us: God is more concerned with our spiritual well-being than with out physical health.