The Power of Praying

One of my relatives is involved in Christian charity work. Recently when his group visited a hospital in Ukraine, they were shocked by the low standard of the equipment. They had almost nothing, but a house and running water. The hospital management team was devastated by the poor quality and asked the group to join them in a prayer for help and so they did.

On the way to Sweden the group talked a lot about what they could do to help, but no one could come up with any good ideas. When they had been back home for just two days, they got a call from a businessman. He said he had shipment of thousands of new clothes he would like to donate. My relative asked what kinds of clothes, and he got the reply: the kind that doctors and nurses use. Of course, they accepted the gift and had not stopped celebrating when the next call came, this time from the local hospital. A whole ward was in the middle of refurbishing and wanted to get rid of lots of lockers, drawers, mobile shelves and other things. Again, they accepted and within days a truck with all the stuff was on its way to Ukraine. I can imagine the story that’s now being told about the power of praying and the miracle makers from Sweden.

Although a stout atheist (or perhaps because), I can’t help but agreeing with Alain de Botton in his quest for Religion 2.0. There are many things we can learn from religion, even though we don’t buy the message. Maybe praying, as in “stating a wish loudly in solitude or in groups”, is such a ritual that we should include in other processes.

May 30 2012, the first annual Stockholm Philanthropy Symposium will be held. Maybe I should go there and pray. My wish is simple: I would like to ask the blessed donors who right now put lots of money into research to also invest in helping research results become utilized. Right now there is a enormous gap between research and actual new products, much because it takes both time and money to verify that something that works in a lab also is possible to produce. This kind of verification is often needed long before venture capital investors are even the slightest interested. Sometimes, the product is a new process and may not have to be commercialised, but still needs to be verified in order to check if it works on a large scale.