He's nearly 40 points behind in the polls and now the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado, John Andrews, has had to acknowledge that he spent two years working for an organization that performed experiments designed to scientifically prove the power of prayer. The experiments included prayer sessions with mung beans, yogurt and potted plants.

"I regarded this investigation as being a potentially responsible and potentially useful exploration of the interface between religion and science," Andrews told the Denver Post. Andrews, who is challenging Gov. Roy Romer (D), said he left Spindrift Inc. -- an Illinois-based organization that studies parapsychology -- to spend time on higher priorities "like public policy in Colorado."

In one Spindrift experiment, 14,000 mung beans were divided into two groups. One was prayed over and the other was not. According to a Spindrift brochure, nearly twice as many sprouts were counted in the group that was prayed over than in the group that was not. In other experiments, mental "promises" were made to plants and dishes of yogurt to promote germination.

Andrews, who was Spindrift's project administrator during 1987 and 1988, said he became involved "to help some friends" find grants and ways to evaluate their experiments. Andrews, who is on leave as executive director of the conservative think tank Independence Institute, said he considers his past association with Spindrift "a non-story relative to my candidacy."