There’s been much disparaging of “thoughts and prayers” lately. But I’ll tell you why prayer is good for you and for the world.
Want to enrage a secularist? Well, the next time there’s a natural disaster or national tragedy, such as another mass shooting, you can say that your “thoughts and prayers” are with the victims. They seem to hate that, and say that “thoughts and prayers” are not sufficient unless you also do something tangible, like passing a law. Well, I don’t know how effective sending thoughts is, but I can guarantee you that prayer, as Jesus said, can move mountains.
And it’s not just me saying this. Writing in National Review Online, Clay Routledge, a professor and psychological scientist, points to “the tested psychological and social benefits of prayer as well as the reality of how most believers turn to faith-based practices in addition to, not instead of, other courses of action.”
Let me share some of this good news about prayer. First, it’s associated with well-being and health. In one study of older adults, the negative effects of financial problems on one’s health were significantly reduced for people who pray regularly for others. For those who perceive of God as loving instead of as distant and unresponsive, prayer produces psychological benefits. People whose prayers centered on gratitude and care for others had the fewest symptoms of depression. I love that! Prayer is good medicine.
But does prayer actually do anything? Or is it, as our critics say, merely a distraction? Well, for starters, Routledge says that prayer “frees up cognitive resources needed to focus on mental tasks by reducing the extent to which people are distracted by negative emotions.” It also reduces alcohol consumption, helps promote a person’s value of sacrifice, and strengthens one’s relationships. Heck, prayer even makes you happier!
And prayer doesn’t lessen one’s belief in science or medical treatment, by the way. As Routledge says, “For most believers, prayer isn’t a substitute for data-based solutions. It is a personal resource that complements and may even help facilitate other thoughtful action.”
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Source: Christian Post