For a long time we have known that people who choose to go to meetings are much more likely to stay sober. Recently, PMC4285560 gave evidence that AA has a “specific effect”; in other words, there is something about the AA program itself that is keeping people sober. And now, we have a new study (mirror) which tells us one aspect of AA’s specific effect: Prayer.
The actual study can be read online (mirror). To summarize, they got some people with long term sobriety, put them in MRI machines, then saw if prayers from the Big Book would affect their reactions to seeing people drinking alcohol. It did. Their level of craving of alcohol was diminished by saying 12-step prayers.
What does this tell us? It tells us that the AA program and the prayers in the Big Book can really help keep people sober.