Prayer, simply put, is a conversation with a higher power. The intimacy we share with our maker is important because it sustains us especially if we face hard times in our ministry of life. The longer we live, trials are sure to come but prayer seems to provide solace. Many studies have been published in both medical and psychological journals supporting the positive effects of prayer and faith.
As we go through our day-to-day lives in a world that is broken, many of us look to our daily spiritual encounters as a way to help lift our spirits and find a greater sense of purpose. The peace and sense of meaning and connection that happens with prayer is so positive.
According to psychologist Crystal Park, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, “People who pray often and are active with their faith communities might be making generally healthier decisions, such as taking fewer risks or avoiding smoking and drinking.
Prayer can reduce stress.
Since life is stressful, it’s good to know that prayer can help. MRI brain scans have shed light on the scientific underpinning of prayer’s power. When people pray, the regions of the brain dealing with self-reflection and self-soothing light up, while the regions linked to taking action are quieted.
Prayer also stimulates the release of “happy hormones” like oxytocin that inspire feelings of trust and belonging. “Prayer is one of the greatest stress reduction techniques,” said Dr. Pamela Wartian Smith, the founder and Medical Director of the Center for Personalized Medicine in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. “Prayer helps you let go and let God — whatever religion you may be.”
Prayer can provide social support.
Spirituality is oftentimes shared within a community of folks who are following a similar journey. A 2015 study published in the journal Cancer, found that patients who reported a strong religious or spiritual life also maintained richer social connections.
Prayer can provide comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The surest antidote for rising panic with regards to the pandemic is prayer. Across the United States, people are turning to religion, according to a Pew Research Study on the impact of the coronavirus on the habits of Americans. The study, released on March 30, found that 55 percent of all U.S. adults say they have prayed for an end to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The largest group who reported doing so are evangelical Christians at 82 percent.
So, when we wake up in a sweat-soaked bed of anxiety, when we resort to numbing ourselves in countless ways, when we feel depressed and powerless at the current global struggle unfolding day by day, we can choose to rest in Christ via the salve that soothes troubled souls, prayer.
Praying, especially in times of overwhelming difficulties, will give us a feeling of having told our problem to someone who has the means to help us and who can assure us that there is no cause for alarm. Yes, God can comfort us when we pray to him.
Prayer is good medicine.
Larry Dossey, M.D., in his book “Prayer is Good Medicine,” discusses how praying for oneself and others can have a scientifically measurable healing effect on illness and trauma. Prayer can be incorporated into the process of healing and influence our state of mind, which then have an effect on our state of body. Prayers can help with such health issues as anxiety, sadness, blood pressure, sleep, digestion, and breathing.
A Duke University study a group of 4,000 people over age 64 and found that those who prayed regularly had significantly lower blood pressure than those who did not. A third study showed that those who attended religious services had healthier immune systems than non-believers. According to a University of Miami study, AIDS patients who became long-term survivors were more likely to be those involved in religious practices and engaged in volunteer work.
The practice of praying has shown a lot of benefits to the functioning of your heart. It is known to speed up the recovery of the heart after a heart attack and surgery. Apart from that it also helps regulate your heartbeat, making it stronger and less stressed.
Prayer can make you grateful.
Sometimes, we really do need to take a step back from grumbling about the negatives in life and instead magnify the good things God has given us to enjoy. Perhaps one of the most important gifts of prayer is that it awakens us to a sense of gratitude. “Your brain actually changes when you express and act on your feelings of gratitude,” said Dr. David Perlmutter, the author of Brain Maker.
Gratitude and praise are tightly connected to spiritual blessings. Thankfulness paves the way for healing and miracles. Thankfulness improves relationships, increases contentment, wards off depression, reduces stress, promotes generosity and positivity, and makes you more likable. No matter what is going on, there is ALWAYS something to the thankful for—many somethings, in fact!
Prayer makes you live longer.
Besides all the other benefits of praying, one of the most striking perks is that it helps you live longer. By minimizing all the ill effects of stress and environmental factors it helps your body heal better and age more efficiently. All this put together helps the body heal faster and beat the common ailments that affect you when you get older.
A prayer for peace of mind…
When anxiety and fears begin to shake the foundation of your peace and calm, the power of prayer can bring us back into comfort. Here is a prayer you can say daily…
Almighty God, We bless you for our lives, we give you praise for your abundant mercy and grace we receive. We thank you for your faithfulness even though we are not that faithful to you. Lord Jesus, we ask you to give us all around peace in our mind, body, soul, and spirit. We want you to heal and remove everything that is causing stress, grief, and sorrow in our lives.
Please guide our path through life and make our enemies be at peace with us. Let your peace reign in our family, at our place of work, businesses, and everything we lay our hands on.
Let your angels of peace go ahead of us when we go out and stay by our side when we return. In Jesus’ name, Amen.