Does God answer prayer? ASU research says 'yes'

February 23, 2007

David R. Hodge, an assistant professor of social work in the College of Human Services at Arizona State University’s West campus, has conducted an exhaustive meta-analysis on the effects of intercessory prayer among people with psychological or medical problems.

In other words, does God – or some other type of transcendent entity – answer prayer for healing? Download Full Image

According to Hodge’s study, “A Systematic Review of the Empirical Literature on Intercessory Prayer,” the answer is “Yes.”

“There have been a number of studies on intercessory prayer, or prayer offered for the benefit of another person,” said Hodge, a leading expert on spirituality and religion. “Some have found positive results for prayer. Others have found no effect. Conducting a meta-analysis takes into account the entire body of empirical research on intercessory prayer. Using this procedure, we find that prayer offered on behalf of another yields positive results.”

Hodge’s work will be featured in the March, 2007, issue of Research on Social Work Practice, a disciplinary journal devoted to the publication of empirical research on practice outcomes. It is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious journals in the field of social work.

Hodge noted that his study is important because it is a compilation of available studies and is not a single work with a single conclusion. His “Systematic Review” takes into account the findings of 17 studies that used intercessory prayer as a treatment in practice settings.

“Some people feel Benson and associates’ study from last year, which is the most recent and showed no positive effects for intercessory prayer, is the final word,” said Hodge, referring to a 2006 article by Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School that measured the therapeutic effect of intercessory prayer in cardiac bypass patients. “But, this research suggests otherwise. This study enables us to look at the big picture. When the effects of prayer are averaged across all 17 studies, controlling for differences in sample sizes, a net positive effect for the prayer group is produced.

“This is the most thorough and all-inclusive study of its kind on this controversial subject that I am aware of,” said Hodge. “It suggests that more research on the topic may be warranted, and that praying for people with psychological or medical problems may help them recover.”

The use of prayer as a therapeutic intervention is controversial. Yet, Hodge notes that survey research indicates that many people use intercessory prayer as an intervention to aid healing, which raises questions about its effectiveness as an intervention strategy.

“Overall, the meta-analysis indicates that prayer is effective. Is it effective enough to meet the standards of the American Psychological Association’s Division 12 for empirically validated interventions? No. Thus, we should not be treating clients suffering with depression, for example, only with prayer. To treat depression, standard treatments, such as cognitive therapy, should be used as the primary method of treatment.” In addition to his inclusion in the upcoming issue of Research on Social Work Practice, Hodge is widely published and has appeared on the pages of Social Work, Social Work Research, Journal of Social Service Research, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, and Families in Society. He has also authored the book “Spiritual assessment: A handbook for helping professionals.”

Steve Des Georges

p.a.v.e. Lays Groundwork for Artist Entrepreneurs

February 25, 2007

TEMPE, Ariz. - Artists with a flair for entrepreneurship now can receive extra financial support to develop and implement their visions through p.a.v.e.: the performing arts ventureexperience – a new initiative in the ASU Herberger College School of Theatre and Film. 

p.a.v.e. is funded as part of a $5 million grant to ASU by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, to further cross-campus entrepreneurship education.  Student projects that incorporate new or current technology, or create new models for interdisciplinary collaboration in films and live performance are the cornerstone of p.a.v.e.  The initiative also strengthens faculty members’ entrepreneurial skills through advanced training in arts entrepreneurship.  Download Full Image

“Campus entrepreneurship initiatives often are housed in business or engineering schools.  It’s unique and rather wonderful that ASU has included the arts as one of the core disciplines in its “University as Entrepreneur” program,” says Linda Essig, director of the School of Theatre and Film. “The school is redirecting the curriculum of some existing classes to meet the entrepreneurial goals of the p.a.v.e. project.  Students are provided with skills and experiences that ultimately will translate into career advancement and enhanced creativity.”

p.a.v.e. augments current arts entrepreneurship programs in the School of Theatre and Film like the Student Production Board and classes such as theatre organization and management, and independent film.  A new class on arts entrepreneurship starts in the fall.  A guest speaker series starts this spring.

Students of all disciplines can submit a proposal for p.a.v.e. assistance, but, one team member must major in one of the School of Theatre and Film programs.  Faculty help set goals for approved p.a.v.e. teams and also serve as project mentors.  The deadline for student proposals is April 2, 2007.  Projects likely will be approved by early May.

For more information about p.a.v.e., visit p.a.v.e. is part of ASU’s “University as Entrepreneur” initiative and is funded by part of a $5 million grant to ASU by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation,, to further cross-campus entrepreneurship education. 

The Herberger College School of Theatre and Film provides a comprehensive range of courses in performance and directing; design and production; new work development; theatre and performance studies; film; and theatre for youth. Its Theatre for Youth program is nationally ranked in the top three and the creative writing/playwriting program is ranked 15th among public institutions by “U.S. News & World Report.” Learn more about the School of Theatre and Film at: