Remote prayer is a form of intercessory prayer which is used at great distance. At times, someone who participates in remote prayer may not even know the person he or she prays for, although some sort of guidance such as a photograph or letter of the person may be provided. Many religions feature some sort of remote prayer in their belief systems, and remote prayer in the role of healing has been studied by some people in the scientific community.
The concept of remote prayer relies on the principle that distance is not an issue when praying for someone else. Since all people are presumably equidistant from God or another higher power, praying for someone right next to them would have the same effect as praying for someone from thousands of miles away. Given that intercessory prayer is an important part of some religious, the concept of remote prayer is very important, as it allows people to pray on behalf of others no matter where they are.
In some religious faiths, remote prayer may be an organized event. For example, attendants at a church might be asked to pray as a group for people in another location. Many churches in small towns may ask their congregations to pray for sick or disabled members of the parish, for example, or a church may pray together for victims of war or environmental disasters. Some churches also sponsor prayer-a-thons and other events to get people enthusiastic about remote prayer and the church.
In other cases, remote prayer is a personal act. Many people who have traveled may have engaged in a bit of remote prayer, asking a higher power to look after friends and family at home. In religions with a strong tradition of intercessory prayer, people may also be accustomed for praying for a network of friends and family regardless as to whether they are located.
Of particular interest to people in the scientific community is remote healing, which uses the same principles utilized in remote prayer. Some healers who use prayer in their work claim that they can heal from a significant distance, sometimes for an extra fee, of course. Other people believe that prayers from anyone, not necessarily a healer, can be beneficial. Scientists have attempted to conduct studies to measure the effects of remote healing, with varying results. In some studies, the act of remote prayer for a patient appeared to improve the prognosis, while in other studies, no clear difference was observed between members of a control group and the patients who were prayed for.