Whether you’re religious or not, chances are that you feel the need to pray in tough situations. There’s a simple explanation for the phenomenon – prayer has the power to soothe you and give you the tools to deal with stress.
It doesn’t really matter whether you’re praying for yourself or for somebody else. This method of spiritual “communication” will give you an opportunity to experience a vast range of benefits that go well beyond your religious convictions.
The Effects of Prayer on Mental Health
A new and intriguing study examines the link between prayer and improved mental health. According to the researchers, the attributes that praying individuals give to God (loving and forgiving or harsh and punishing) affect the manner in which prayer is going to affect their mental health.
The researchers examined the data of 1,714 volunteers. Surprisingly, people that prayed to a loving and forgiving God were the ones less likely to experience any anxiety-related disorder. Through prayer, these people formed a “relationship” with God, which gave them a sense of security and peacefulness.
Other individuals, however, believe that God is distant and harsh. Thus, they have a relationship that’s based on fear and insecurities. These individuals don’t enjoy any of the positive mental health effects that people praying to a loving God get to experience.
Prayer and Physical Health
The positive impact of prayer goes beyond emotional health. Faster healing and enhanced recovery from medical conditions have both been linked to strong faith and its verbalization through prayer.
More than 1,200 studies have been carried out to assess the impact of prayer on health.
Researchers have found out that hospitalized individuals that don’t pray or go to church tend to have a stay that’s three times longer than the one of individuals that pray regularly. What’s even more interesting – elderly individuals that don’t go to church are 14 times more likely to die of a stroke than churchgoers.
An Israeli study has also established that religious individuals are nearly 40 percent less likely to die of a cardiovascular problem or cancer.
The positive emotional impact of prayer could be one of the reasons for improved health and enhanced recovery from medical conditions. Studies suggest that people who pray often are less likely to experience depression than the ones that don’t. Depression is a major factor that stands in the way of physical recovery and that could aggravate a vast range of medical problems.
Other Scientifically Proven Benefits of Prayer
The benefits of prayer happen to be quite diversified. Apart from enjoying better mental health and enhanced physical recovery from illness, individuals that pray frequently and believe in God also tend to also experience:
How Does it Work?
The question has already been answered partially but how does prayer work and why does it deliver such a vast range of benefits?
One study suggests that our cognitive resources are limited, which is why we’re capable of handling so much before getting down. Prayer is one of the tools that can be used to replenish those cognitive resources.
Thomas Jefferson Hospital physician Andrew Newberg has found out that people experience brain changes as a result of prayer. Prayer has the power to change four of the important brain regions. These affect a range of physiological functions like blood pressure, heart rate and immune response, among many others. The brain changes experienced during prayer could be the ones responsible for the positive health effects that individuals experience.
Regardless of your beliefs, prayer could help both in your daily life and in periods of hardships. Even researchers have agreed that it’s beneficial so why not give it a try?