Scientific research confirms that prayer offers people important psychological benefits, not just spiritual
Bedtime prayers once were part of every child’s nighttime routine along with warm baths, teeth-brushing and stories read aloud. But how many parents still kneel with their children before tucking them in every night to offer bedtime prayers?
Surprisingly, many Catholics still heed the advice from Thessalonians, which urges us to “pray without ceasing.” A 2013 Pew Research Poll found that more than half of Americans pray every day, while a similar 2012 poll discovered that over 75 percent believe prayer is an important part of daily life.
Even recent scientific research confirms that prayer offers people important psychological benefits in addition to the spiritual benefits they seek. A Psychology Today story noted five scientifically supported benefits of prayer:
- Prayer improves self-control. Studies demonstrate that self-control, like muscle, becomes fatigued and must be exercised regularly to remain strong. Studies demonstrate that prayer can reduce alcohol consumption and has an energizing effect.
- Prayer makes you nicer. Having people pray for those in need reduced the aggression they expressed following an anger-inducing experience.
- Prayer makes you more forgiving. People who pray for the needs of a romantic partner or friend are more willing to forgive others.
- Prayer increases trust. Those who pray together experience feelings of unity and trust, suggesting that praying with others can help build close relationships.
- Prayer offsets the negative health effects of stress. Researchers discovered that people who prayed for others were less vulnerable to the negative physical health effects associated with financial stress. In addition, the focus on others seemed to contribute to the stress-buffering effects of prayer and enhance the overall feeling of wellness.
Full story at OC Catholic.