Prayer For Stress Over Health
Healing Power of Prayer to Reverse Disease
The healing power of prayer is an integral part of the Abundant Life.
One of the first things Jesus taught His followers was how to pray, and He frequently separated Himself – even from His ministry – to take time to be with our Heavenly Father.
He indicated the power of prayer to change our circumstances, but we’re learning more about what prayer can do for our lives and even our health.
In this article, you will learn about:
- The Importance of Prayer
- Prayer Research
- Ways Prayer Heals
The Importance of the Healing Prayer of Prayer
In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)
The life of a Christian should center around the importance of prayer. Jesus modeled this for us, making time for prayer even when He was surrounded with people expecting so much of Him.
In His three year ministry, He accomplished enough that the Gospels say books couldn’t contain it all – yet He still made time to step away and pray; which was probably the reason why He was able to accomplish so much, but that’s another story altogether…the proverbial caution against Perfection becoming the enemy of Good, we cannot allow Busy to take away from Blessed.
Taking the time out in the healing power of prayer to breathe, meditate, and refocus our lives is vital for our spiritual, mental, and physical health.
Master the Art of Using Essential Oils at Home! To help you reach your health goals with essential oils, please be sure to take the time to learn the fundamentals of aromatherapy. To help you do this, we have created a 10-Part Video Masterclass that we want to give you an opportunity to watch for FREE. This is our gift to you for being part of our Natural Living Family All you need to do is reserve your spot by clicking HERE. We'll see you there!
Prayer Research: The Healing Power of Prayer
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14 )
The subject of prayer has been the focus of a surprising amount of research. No doubt, the contrast between concrete steps of science and abstract actions of faith is intriguing.
A word of caution precedes the pursuit of hard evidence or “trying” God – at its core, prayer is about faith. With this in mind, the results of research are mixed – as one would expect. Yet, there have been indications of the effects of prayer that can be measurable in terms of data.
A 2015 review worked through the literature to analyze how and why people pray for others and during personal illness. The review documents a few studied reasons people pray in relation to health, including: (1)
- Disease-centered prayer
- Assurance-centered prayer
- God-centered prayer
- Others-centered (intercessory) prayer
For each of these kinds of prayer, researchers have analyzed the ways prayer is initiated, the motivation behind it, and the results, looking for patterns and verifiable results. At the end of the day, the confirmation we have regarding the effects of prayer seems to boil down to the long-standing core understanding of the Christian faith:
Prayer changes things, yes, but more importantly, prayer changes us.
The Healing Power of Prayer: 5 Ways Prayer Heals
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
1. Healing Power of Prayer – Stress Management
This is the first healing change that I’d to point out, for a very specific reason. Stress is at the core of so many of our health issues, both chronic and acute. Incidentally, stress is also one of our primary excuses for not spending more time in prayer.
In 1 Peter, we’re instructed to cast all our anxiety on Him, and we need to do so now more than ever.
An extensive review of the literature deemed individuals with an engaged religious and spiritual lifestyle have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems. (2) Moving our minds and hearts away from our stress and onto our faith takes the weight off of our shoulders.
2. Healing Power of Prayer – Peace of Mind
When we turn our cares and stresses over to God in prayer, we are left with a peace of mind – yes, that passes all understanding! It doesn’t have to make sense – in analytics or research or data – for us to be calm and confident in the face of adversity. It’s a matter of faith expressed through prayer!
In addition to the overall health improvement indicated in the previous review, this level of peace was reflected in a study on patients with depression and anxiety.
Not only did prayer help initially, but the effects of intensive prayer therapy extended until the follow up a full year after the study.(3) As many of us know personally, that kind of peace can extend as long as we are willing to maintain the prayer relationship.
Remember, His yoke is easy and burden light! We don’t have to hold our worries and cares, and when we actively let it go in prayer, our health reflects that release.
3. Healing Power of Prayer – Lowered Inflammation
The illnesses and conditions sparked by stress are typically inflammatory in nature – the body’s inflammatory responses going into overdrive to attack the invisible threat. So, naturally, when our stress is under control thanks to a productive prayer life, the negative inflammatory response will be lessened.
Exploratory research is touching on this phenomenon, with a recent study pointing out the potential that we can help control inflammation with intentional control of emotions. (4) Purposefully shifting our focus in prayer can play a huge role in this kind of control that would ultimately tell our bodies to breathe easy – God’s got this!
4. Healing Power of Prayer – Gut Health
A poorly functioning gut can wreak havoc on health. Beyond nutrient absorption – which is no small task – the gut is also a key component in immunity, bacterial balance, and even mental health.
The connection between the brain and gut is so strong it’s often referred to as the gut-brain axis. Our mental and emotional stresses trigger reactions in the brain that are then reflected in the gut. (5) Conversely, peace and calm in response to prayer is no less connected and can certainly benefit and even heal unstable gut health.
5. Healing Power of Prayer – Intercessory Prayer
Heavily researched and hotly contested, scientists are dying to know whether and how intercessory prayer – praying for others – affects health.
A randomized, controlled study in 1999 indicated improved health for coronary care unit patients who had been prayed for. (6) This sparked an avalanche of studies and counters. Some, perhaps rightly, caution that we should not try to nail down a scientific formula for eliciting or even manipulating God’s hand.
I would counter that someone trying to manipulate God isn’t really praying at all.
Thirteen years later, patients with cancer who were graced with intercessory prayer were found to have a small but significant improvement in spiritual well-being. (7) For all that can and cannot be measured, I’m not sure that we can ask for more than this.
Intercessory prayer binds a community of faith together in support to provide each other with light in a dark time, however small it may be, it remains significant. And in the light, we find healing of our mind, body, or soul – sometimes, all three.
Bible Health is Your Birthright in Christ! To enjoy the abundant (healthy) life that Christ promises us in John 10:10, we have found that living a life free of harmful chemicals is crucial for physical, mental, emotional and especially spiritual wellbeing. However, most people don't where to start. So, to help you on your journey, we have created a 5-Part Video Home Tour that shows you exactly how we have detoxed our home (and life!). As part of our Natural Living Family, we want to give you an opportunity to watch it for FREE! All you need to do is reserve your spot by clicking HERE. We'll see you there!
Prayer, Relationships, and Health – John Templeton Foundation
Over the course of dozens of studies, Frank Fincham has compiled an impressive list of ways that prayer and forgiveness make a difference.
Frank Fincham, who holds an endowed chair of the Florida State University College of Human Sciences, is a former Rhodes Scholar with an Oxford doctorate and a long track record of insightful study of relationships, religious practice, and health. In 2011 he was the recipient, as director of the FSU Family Institute, of a $1.
13 million, four-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation to investigate the ways that prayer and forgiveness affect relational well-being and physical health.
The results — in the form of the accumulated outcomes of dozens of studies and reviews — provide compelling evidence that prayer for one’s partner and the cultivation of forgiveness has quantifiable benefits.
I SAY A LITTLE PRAYER FOR YOU
Petitionary prayer — praying for the needs and desires of someone else — is the focus of several studies that Fincham and various co-authors worked on for this grant.
Studying relationship pairs including both romantic couples and close friends, Fincham’s team found that praying for one’s friend or partner increases interpersonal trust and relational unity and correlates with a greater sense of satisfaction with the sacrifices inherent in any relationship, along with fostering greater capacities for cooperation and forgiveness.Most of the results Fincham was able to measure related to the person who did the praying — fitting with the theory that other-focused prayer was helping to change their internal thought processes. But in some of the studies, having a partner who prayed was also associated with the other partner also having greater feelings of commitment in the relationship.
Many of Fincham’s prayer studies focused on a narrow set of variables, but in one investigation Fincham and his colleagues examined a web of potential associations between four measures (relationship satisfaction, prayer for one’s partner, physical health, and psychological health) and three established correlations with feelings of loneliness (insecure attachment, relational infidelity, and psychological health). Although they did not find that prayer for one’s partner mediated the correlations in the ways they had hypothesized, Fincham did show that participants who prayed for their partners experienced fewer feelings of loneliness.
BREAKING THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
Recent social science has suggested that children who witness domestic violence between their parents are more ly to experience it — as either transgressor or victim — as an adult. Fincham and his colleagues looked at the ways that an attitude of forgiveness — considered as a personality trait rather than as forgiveness for any one transgression — might help break that cycle.
Fincham’s research found that the ability to forgive one’s mother (for unspecified transgressions) seemed to reduce the lihood of “intergenerational transmission” of violence in three of the four possible pairings of roles (perpetrator and victim, parent and offspring). The only scenario where a forgiving attitude did not seem to help was when the father perpetrated the initial violence and the offspring later became a domestic violence victim.
A FORGIVING HEART
A forgiving outlook may be able to help someone avoid metaphorical heartbreak, but what about the health of their actual heart? Here again, Fincham has had a hand in a number studies about the way that “trait forgiveness” — as well as “trait anger” — might be correlated with cardiovascular health.
True to the stereotype of a fuming boss who suddenly keels over from a heart attack, generally angry people were found to have worse cardiovascular health, while generally forgiving people showed better outcomes.
Interestingly, for people who were generally angry and forgiving, the presence of forgiveness was still correlated with good outcomes, despite the anger.
Stress is an obvious candidate for the mediating factor in these relationships — since angry people experience higher stress, and high stress is known for its negative cardiovascular effects. Even in situations of experimentally induced stress — having one hand submerged in near-freezing water — the trait-forgiveness cohort showed healthier cardiovascular responses.
As is the case with much psychological research, Fincham’s research subjects have consisted largely — though not entirely — of undergraduates based near his university, so more work will be needed to show that the same results would be found in a more diverse population. Fincham has also identified additional opportunities to expand the scope of the research to look at whether, for instance, an orientation towards gratitude might have similar correlations to those observed with forgiveness.
Fincham’s results cannot be said to prove that prayer and forgiveness “work” in a supernatural sense. But they certainly suggest that in the aspects of the world that psychologists can measure, there are clear benefits to a praying and forgiving life.