The Benefits Of Prayer And Simple Steps To Do It
Prayer benefits, steps of how to pray
According to a New York Times article 84% of people around the globe have faith. (Harper 2012) So, it would make sense that most people practice some form of prayer right? In a recent video, at the MTV awards, Chris Pratt gave a speech stating "Learn to pray. It's easy and it's so good for your soul." (MTV 2018). I want to help you learn more about prayer, its benefits, and how to pray.
What is prayer and how does it affect us?
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary a prayer is an address or petition, a request or a wish to a higher power such as God or a god “in word or thought” (Merriam-Webster n.d.). Prayer has been practiced for more than 4,000 years in religions. Although you don’t necessarily need to be religious to practice prayer. Repeating mantras and meditation can even be a form of prayer.
Prayer can activate or stimulate your brain stronger than other everyday activities. This activation of the brain can be studied and shows several benefits to praying (Love 2017).
- Decrease in depression and anxiety
- Increase in optimism
- Better control over emotions
- Relaxation of body and mind
- Feelings of peace & tranquility
- Reduction in stress hormones
- Improved Immunity
- Better Concentration and focus
- Feelings of love & joy
- Increased IQ
Unfortunately, the spiritual aspect of praying is difficult to study scientifically but that’s not to say it isn’t there. The way prayer helps is by exercising certain parts of your brain. There are numerous studies on meditation but not as many on prayer. Sometimes these practices overlap so some information can be generalized.
Tom Knox, a researcher and writer (that was once an atheist) states that “a growing and largely unnoticed body of scientific work shows religious belief is medically, socially, and psychologically beneficial” (NewsMaxHealth 2015).
Simple steps to help you pray
Choose a spiritual affirmation over a nonspiritual or neutral mantra (If you are picking a verse or phrase to recite).
Pray Regularly- long term daily practice. Plan it out if possible. When do you plan on praying? Where? Do you have an area that is comfortable and quiet? Do you want to pray for a certain amount of time. Maybe even consider setting up a sacred space with essential oils or things you find calming or beautiful.
P- Praise God/Universe first
Show gratitude for what you already have. Maybe also start a gratitude journal when you aren't praying or make it part of your practice.
R- Request blessings or healings for & with others
James 5:16 “pray for each other so that you may be healed” (NIV)
Think about praying with others -I know it can feel awkward… but when two or more people pray together it increases the power of prayer. It can also build strong relationships with others.
This reminds me of The Law of Attraction or The Secret in some ways. We are manifesting what we focus on. This includes prayers. You are sending out a message to the universe (or God) and as a result it materializes in real life.
A- Ask for forgiveness & forgive others
When asking for forgiveness try to actually better yourself and grow from the experience. Forgive yourself for not being perfect because no human can be. Try to avoid making the same mistakes. Feel truly sorry.
Forgiving others can help you become more compassionate and let go of any control someone else has over you. You are acknowledging emotions and letting them go. You are releasing grudges. You are not letting someone else do harm to you. You are empowering yourself.
Y- Yearn for God/Universal love- Ask for assistance for yourself
When you ask for help make sure it is specific and that you believe or have faith it is possible. Make sure when you ask that you keep in mind that it is for the highest good of yourself and others.
Matthew 6:5 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (NIV).
Just remember that prayer is a conversation with a higher power (whatever your beliefs). It is a request of some sorts or plea in times of desperation. It helps you to express yourself and yet feel connected in a world of chaos and confusion. It is good not only for your soul but in so many other ways. These are simple steps to help organize how you pray but in all reality prayer is personal. You can make it however you want. You can pray in your car, in the presence of others, over the phone, in bed before sleep, at any moment, and in any place. The most important thing to remember is just to pray. Take action. Start today, right now.
I agree with Richard Schiffman, a journalist at Huffington Post, “What science can tell us is that people who pray and meditate trend to be statistically more healthy and live longer than those who do not. Whether these boons are merely unintended side effects of still deeper spiritual benefits remains a matter of faith” (Schiffman 2012).
*If you seek more help with how to pray effectively seek out an appropriate professional for your religious background/interest.
Hall, Reed. 2012. beliefnet. 2012. Accessed June 21, 2018. http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/religion101/2012/10/how-old-are-the-....
Harper, Jennifer. 2012. The Washington TImes. December 23. Accessed June 21, 2018. https://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2012/dec/23/84-percent-....
Love, Shayla. 2017. How Prayer and Meditation Changes Your Brain. April 28. Accessed June 21, 2018. https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/nzpk9w/how-prayer-and-meditation-ch....
n.d. Merriam-Webster. Accessed June 21, 2018. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prayer?src=search-dict-hed.
n.d. What Is The Law Of Attraction? Open Your Eyes To A World Of Endless Possibilities. Accessed June 21, 2018. http://www.thelawofattraction.com/what-is-the-law-of-attraction/.
MTV, Chris Pratt. 2018. Twitter. June 18. Accessed June 21, 2018. https://twitter.com/MTV/status/1008952536110452737.
New International Version Bible (NIV). 2011.
NewsMaxHealth. 2015. Accessed Junes 21, 2018. https://www.newsmax.com/health/headline/prayer-health-faith-medicine/201....
Schiffman, Richard. 2012. The Blog. March 19. Accessed June 21, 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/why-people-who-pray-are....