The Stunning Science Behind The Healing Power of Prayer

If you have a regular practice of prayer, then you are well aware that the positive effects are very real and wide-ranging. Many people who engage in prayer report psychological and spiritual benefits such as a sense of greater clarity, purpose, gratitude, presence, sense of connection, and overall well-being. However, these subjective benefits can be hard to measure scientifically.

Science Behind Prayer

Interestingly, despite the difficulty in quantifying the spiritual effects of prayer, there have been many studies looking at the physical benefits of this ancient practice.

A 2013 Pew Research Poll estimated that over half of Americans pray daily. A University of Rochester study found that over 85% of people dealing with a major illness turn to prayer. Every religion or spiritual belief system has a form of prayer or meditation as a foundational principle.

This shows that prayer is not merely a cultural phenomenon but a fundamental aspect of the human experience. Yet, many people still struggle to reconcile belief in the power of prayer with a scientific worldview.

Prayer and Your Health

Duke University’s Harold G. Koenig, M.D, author of several books on faith and healing, says “studies have shown prayer can prevent people from getting sick — and when they do get sick, prayer can help them get better faster.

So how does that happen?

Harvard Medical School cardiovascular specialist Dr. Herbert Benson discovered what is called the “relaxation response.” This is the physiological state that occurs during prayer. It involves the autonomic (automatic) nervous system shifting over to a parasympathetic (rest and digest) dominant state, as opposed to the sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) state that most of us spend the majority of the day in.

The act of prayer has shown to increase certain helpful neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which help promote a state of relaxation, focus, motivation, and well-being.

But the effects are not confined to momentary relaxation. Long-term prayer can actually rewire and rebuild the brain!

With the ability to scan the brain using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers have been able to note the physiological changes that occur in the brains of those who pray regularly.

Lisa Miller, professor and director of Clinical Psychology and director of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University conducted a study on 103 people who were at a high risk of depression. Using MRI, she found that those who prayed regularly tended to have a thicker cerebral cortex which has been associated with less depression and anxiety.

Another study has shown that urban children with asthma cope better when incorporating prayer into their lives.

Prayer is also good for your heart. Christians have been shown to have lower average blood-pressure than non-believers. Prayer also is correlated to less heart attacks and quicker recovery from heart surgery.

There is even evidence to suggest that regular prayer will help you live longer!

So with all these benefits, you should consider incorporating prayer as part of your daily regimen.

How You Pray Matters

According to a study published in the journal Sociology of Religion titled “Prayer, Attachment to God, and Symptoms of Anxiety-Related Disorders among U.S. Adults,” looked at the data of 1,714 volunteers. What they found is that those who pray with a loving and protective conception of God experience a more dramatic reduction in anxiety related symptoms compared to those who pray without the expectation of comfort or protection.

This shows us just how important faith actually is!

The publishers believe that the emotional and spiritual comfort from prayer to a loving and compassionate God offers a sense of hope and security, while those who pray with a more judgemental conception of God breeds resentment, rejection, and detachment. So understanding the character of your God is important. To understand what I believe to be the character of God click here

A Prayer a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

The most beautiful thing about all of this research is not only that it validates the ancient wisdom behind prayer, but it also shows us how incredibly easy it can be to implement powerful healing practices into our lives.

With so many benefits on the physical, psychological, and spiritual levels, there is really no reason to not pray or meditate every single day!

The best times of day are first thing in the morning and right before bed. However you can pray in the car on the way to work, in line at the grocery store, sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, or before you eat your meals.

Even a mere 30 seconds of prayer, acknowledging God and giving thanks for all the blessings in your life, can have a powerful effect on your body, mind, and spirit.

So what do you think? Have you been inspired to reinvigorate the prayer in your life? Let us know in the comments section below!

 

References

  1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/why-people-who-pray-are-heathier_b_1197313.html
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/more-mortal/201406/5-scientifically-supported-benefits-prayer
  3. http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/10-ways-praying-actually-benefits-your-health-p114/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2802370/
  5. http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Headline/prayer-health-faith-medicine/2015/03/31/id/635623/
  6. https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/09/18/new-study-examines-the-effects-of-prayer-on-mental-health/

17 Comments

  1. Nancy Hoskins says:

    Yes.

  2. Don Dennis says:

    Thank you, I love this. I never knew the health benefits of prayer but I always feel good about praying.

  3. Gwendolyn Campbell says:

    Yes, this is so true prayer gives me so much peace!

  4. Marty says:

    Thanks for this inspiring message. It is indeed a good one. Through prayer good health is secured. It also gives a balanced state of mind. Prayer has been my only weapon all these while. Thanks for the message.

  5. Marty Adefioye says:

    Highly inspiring .

  6. Deb Staples says:

    I was just reading Scriptures when this email popped up on my phone, I do pray often but this has encouraged me, thank you.

  7. Shar says:

    Prayer is my key assurance to the Lord I have been heal through prayers. It is our way of communicating with God so we must pray God is very broken hearted when we don’t talked to him , he has so much to say and do for us.. will you talk to him today?

  8. Arthur Herrera says:

    Thank you

  9. Elaine M. says:

    Hi

    The article is great. I agree with it. God made us to communicate
    with Him – we find intimacy with Him – our only fullment.

    God Bless

    Elaine

  10. Kevin says:

    This is great news. Finally science is catching up to what has been known for ages. Prayer is powerful.

  11. Clara says:

    The comments about prayer and what it does are very affirming.

  12. Clara says:

    I have been encouraged to keep praying.

  13. Rosemarie Lee says:

    Me and my oldest sister has been on a prayer fast for months now and we will continue till i break thru comes .prayer changes things..Thank You Jesus

  14. Steven says:

    This is a great news. Thank you God for prayer.

  15. Terrie says:

    Such an encouraging and inspiring word on the power of prayer! Thank you! To know our birth and creation to have been by God Himself goes to say that when we communicate in prayer with our Father it makes us healthy, body, mind and soul. The Spirit communicates and makes real this vital connection. To not be connected in right relationship with Him is death to body, mind and soul. Satan hates those who acknowledge Jesus as God’s son because we ARE the righteousness of God IN JESUS! His Spirit is so doing AWESOME work in these days showing the Son and the Father so we can all be made whole and one with Him and other believers! Love, love Him for all He is and has done and is revealing to us! Thank you God!

  16. Mary McBeath says:

    I am pray very day. I love your message it proves what I believe. I am a 9 year cancer survivor of Ovarian stage 4 . Thank God I conquered cancer.

  17. Maria Terga says:

    Thank you Jesus for teaching us how to pray and connect to the father! Blessings to God’s creation!

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