Can Prayer Benefit More Than Just Our Spiritual Health?
Perhaps you question the existence of God. Maybe it’s just the notion of a solitary entity yanking the strings of your life, a lone-ranging puppeteer of the universe that you find inconceivable. Maybe you have a vague impression of “something” out there, an indefinable presence within or around you. On the other hand, you may be devoutly religious, or maybe devoutly opposed to any belief. Extensive research has found that it really doesn’t matter what your perspective or belief—if you pray, you will benefit, though perhaps not in the ways you expected.
Addressing those of the Catholic faith, Father Bill Ashbaugh writes in St. Augustine Catholic Magazine about those who regard prayer as a waste of time, or question its validity: “Even as believers, we are sometimes tempted to think this way”—as in, wondering if, in fact, God even exists or whether he/she/it is even listening.
However, Father Ashbaugh goes on to talk about the soothing effects of his own prayers, stating that reiterating certain words or phrases, induces a peace that, “passeth all understanding.”
However, prayer is not only lauded by priests or other religious figures. The religious, metaphysical and scientific communities are, in fact, intersecting along the roads of many faiths and spiritual practices in their recognition of prayer’s benefits. As it turns out, Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and scientists are agreeing on one thing: the beneficial effects of prayers are numerous.
In fact, it is the scientific communities which are turning up with the most convincing appeal. Numerous studies are showing that those who pray are less inclined to be depressed, anxious or stressed out. They are also physically less prone to disease.
Those of you who are still concerned about frittering away your time on possibly fruitless conversations with an invisible being should be happy to know that prayer increases productivity too!
In fact, a study at the University of Pennsylvania committed to discovering the benefits of prayer has scanned the brains of monks, nuns, priests and gurus and concluded that their brains are exceptionally focused. The University of Pennsylvania isn’t just a lone discovery in the scientific wilderness, either. Numerous studies focused on different aspects of prayer have rendered similar conclusions. In fact, a study by Centra State Hospital determined that “the psychological benefits of prayer may help reduce stress and anxiety, promote a more positive outlook, and strengthen the will to live.”
What about meditation and yoga, you may wonder? Well, the benefits are equally and similarly beneficial, invoking lowered blood-pressure and heart rates as well as increased emotional and mental well-being.
Isn’t it time you got started?