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The power of prayer

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Prayer is actively being studied and scientists are attempting to measure prayers' effectiveness. While there is skepticism in the ability to measure prayer or study its empirical methods, most know the feeling of being prayed for and prayers' beneficial results. Most of us would admit to praying at some time in our life and feeling relieved or as if our prayers were answered.

The emotional benefits of prayer are as follows:

1. A sense of hope or a feeling of not being alone.

2. Feeling a spiritual connection to someone more powerful than us.

3. A relief in anxiety.

4. A relief in feeling depressed.

5. A sense that things will work out.

6. Praying regularly helps you judge others less. The more you pray, the more you see your own fragileness.

7. Praying helps us bear grief and work through it.

8. Praying helps build a relationship with God. The more you talk to God, the closer you feel to God. The closer you feel to God the more you rely on him, which may help you slow down and make wiser decisions.

9. Praying helps you calm down and can actually lower blood pressure and respirations. It takes on a meditative tone.

What do most of us pray for no matter what our religion, and report feeling relieved once we pray?

1. We pray for knowledge or understanding of a situation. People reported a greater depth in understanding after praying for knowledge.

2. We pray for strength or the ability to endure whatever the situation demands.

3. We pray for clarity or help making decisions. People surveyed reported the more they prayed for clarity, the more their path became clearer and the easier it was to make decisions.

4. Prayer for healing. This is one of the most common issues we pray for, and what is important to remember is healing of body is very different than healing with your mind. Many of the patients I have cared for ended up dying from their illness, but they had healed whatever their emotional trauma was.

5. Help with controlling addictive tendencies (12 step programs are based on a relationship with God and putting him first and foremost in our lives).

Every study looked at reveals important facts about prayer. The most important is it is an active two-way street. It is interactive between the prayer and God. Therefore, the most intense effects were felt when people had a close relationship with God prior to praying. Below are suggestions to build that relationship.

1. Pray often. Praying is simply talking to God. Acknowledge him in the car, in bed at night and at meals.

2. Pray in a way that you invite God into your life. Thanking him, and noticing all of the gifts in each day are wonderful ways to begin.

3. Take a few minutes each day to be quiet and listen to God. Call that your prayer time and do not let other events interrupt you.

4. Begin praying for others if it makes you feel awkward praying for yourself. God is always there. Only you move in and out of God's world.

5. No prayer is too simple, silly or extravagant to ask for God's help.

6. God has a sense of humor, and this is clear the more you pray. At the time of my aneurysm, I was praying that my husband would not let work overcome his priorities with his family. My aneurysm certainly solved this problem.

I cannot imagine a life without prayer; it adds a dimension to life that you may not realize you're missing until you begin to pray. It brings families, marriages and organizations together in a way that nothing else can.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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