The Shadow Side Of Prayer with Larry Dossey, M. D.

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In the last few years, scientific evidence has validated the healing power of prayer. But the power of prayer can go both ways--controlled laboratory experiments have proved that prayer can harm and even kill human tissue. Dossey says, "What we're talking about is my thoughts, my intentions, my wishes and my prayers being able to affect you physically at a distance, when you don't even know I'm doing it." Can we pray without doing harm? And can we protect ourselves from the negative prayers of others? Dossey addresses these and other fascinating aspects of the very real role prayer can play in our lives. He leaves us with perhaps the best prayer of all: "May the best thing happen." (hosted by Michael Toms)


Larry Dossey, M.D. is the executive editor of Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, and served as co-chair of the Panel on Mind/Body Interventions of the NIH Office of Alternative Medicine. 

He is the author of numerous articles and books, including: 

  • Time, Space & Medicine (Shambhala 1982)
  • Beyond Illness: Discovering the Experience of Health (Shambhala 1984)
  • Recovering the Soul: a Scientific and Spiritual Search (Bantam 1989)
  • Meaning and Medicine: A Doctor’s Tales of Breakthrough and Healing (Bantam 1991)
  • Healing Words (HarperSanFrancisco 1993)
  • Prayer is Good Medicine: How to Reap the Healing Benefits of Prayer (HarperOne 1997)
  • The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives (Dutton 2009)
  • The Energy of Prayer: How To Deepen Your Spiritual Practice (co-author Thich Nhat Hanh) (Parallax Press 2006)
  • The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things: Fourteen Natural Steps to Health and Happiness (Harmony 2007)
  • One Mind: How Our Individual Mind is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters (Hay House 2013) 

    To learn more about the work of Larry Dossey go to

    Topics Explored in This Dialogue

    • How to protect yourself from negative prayers
    • What led Dossey to write a book about the negative side effects of prayer
    • How you can pray without harming anyone or anything
    • The connection between prayer and thought
    • How doctors cause unintentional harm through offhand words/comments
    • Documented cases of the power of prayer
    • Some surprising passages from the Bible
    • Becoming aware of your own little hexes
    • How to create more positive thoughts
    • Developing an ethical system for prayer
    Host: Michael Toms      Interview Date: 11/19/1997      Program Number: 2681