Is Prayer Good for Your Health?
How Praying Helps Your Health and More
People all over the world have been praying for thousands of years. The belief in its benefits is evident in the practice’s widespread use and longevity.
But it’s not only people who pray who understand the benefits of praying. The scientific community also espouses the benefits of the practice. Research shows that praying is good for both mental and physical health. It can even help extend your life.
Although the type of prayer and form it takes is unique to the individual and their specific beliefs, the benefits of prayer are true for everyone. And prayer can provide benefits for the person or people being prayed for as well as for the person praying.
Here are some of the reasons why saying a prayer is good for you.
We often don’t make time for reflection within the busyness of daily life. Prayer offers an opportunity to quiet the mind and reflect. For many, it is a chance to bring themselves into the present moment, rather than thinking about what has happened or what may happen next.
This is a form of mindfulness which is good for both mental and physical health. Calming the mind switches off the body’s fight-or-flight mode which helps bolster the immune system. It also helps reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, and lessen fatigue.
People who feel that they have no one to talk to may experience feelings of loneliness and isolation which can contribute to mental health concerns such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Prayer is a chance to communicate — both talking and listening. It offers an opportunity to express concerns and ask for guidance. Being able to communicate through prayer can help you feel less alone and more supported through life’s inevitable difficulties.
Prayer is an opportunity to think about what you’re grateful for. Reminding yourself about the blessings in your life increases positive thinking and boosts your mood. Gratitude is associated with a wealth of health benefits, including increased immunity, improved sleep, fewer aches and pains, and less stress, anxiety, and depression.
Many people talk to themselves as a way of sorting through their problems. Prayer can provide you with a similar result, giving you time and space to think through your challenges and come up with solutions. Praying may help you ask, “What’s next?” rather than, “Why me?” Think of it as self-administered therapy.
Human beings thrive when they are in community with others. Prayer is often part of a faith tradition and performed in a group. In this way, it is good for creating a sense of shared effort and involvement with others. Strong social networks and attending faith-based services are two of the nine criteria of a healthy life according to Blue Zones, a project that studies the world’s longest-lived people.
The feelings of connection, hope, and serenity brought about through prayer can help people cope better with pain. In a nationwide poll conducted with Stanford University Medical Center, more than half of the respondents said they use prayer to help manage their pain. Prayer has been shown to reduce pain intensity and lessen the effect of pain on daily activities.
Encouraging the relaxation response
Praying produces the relaxation response in the person praying. This helps to lower blood pressure and inhibit the release of cortisol and other stress hormones. This physiological response helps reduce the negative impact of stress on the system which helps immune system function and promotes healing.
Showing your support
Praying for someone else and telling them that you are doing so is a way to show your support and let them know that they are not alone in their efforts. When you let someone know that you are praying for them it shows them that you sincerely want whatever outcome it is you are praying for and that you are making an effort to make it happen. This can have a positive effect on the recipient of your prayers, bolstering their efforts to achieve their desired outcome.
Prayer’s placebo effect
Within medicine, the simple idea that a positive effect is expected has been shown to have healing power for both the brain and the body, even when no real medicine is involved in the treatment. This is known as the placebo effect. The same is true for prayer. Knowing that someone else is praying for you and wants a positive outcome for you can produce a positive response in the recipient of the prayer.
Everyone can pray
Like meditation, you don’t need any special skills or experience to pray. It’s simply a conversation between you and your higher power, whoever or whatever that may be. You can pray anytime, anywhere — whatever is most comfortable and appropriate for your beliefs. So, it’s easy to make prayer a part of your day.
Spirituality and your health
If you want to find out more about how having a spiritual practice can have an impact on your health, start with a natural health consultation with Dr. Kristine Devillier.
Dr. Devillier is a board-certified naturopath and master herbalist. She brings more than 20 years’ experience and a wealth of knowledge about natural health to each consultation — providing practical, easy-to-follow advice on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Dr. Devillier creates a custom-made plan for your life no matter how busy you are and how many obstacles you think you may have.
If you want to improve your health using a combination of traditional and alternative techniques, give us a call on 337-332-2705 or reach us online for more information. We offer natural health consultations in Breaux Bridge, Lafayette, and the entire Acadiana area.