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GIVE IT TO GOD: Prayer & Your Mental Health

The topic of prayer is complex and multifaceted. I wonder how many people know the power of prayer. In the past I’ve given dozens of scriptures ands stories about how prayer works. Instead, let’s focus on some stats.

According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, about 55% of adults in the United States say they pray daily. The frequency of prayer varies by religious affiliation, with higher rates of daily prayer reported by people who identify as religiously affiliated.

Many people (even non-religious) believe that prayer can have a positive impact on their lives. For example, a 2017 survey conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that 48% of Americans believe that prayer can help people recover from illness or injury. Studies also show that people are likely to appreciate the sentiment when you promise to pay for them.

Some medical studies have explored the potential health benefits of prayer. For example, a 2006 study published in the American Heart Journal found that intercessory prayer (prayer on behalf of another person) did not have a significant effect on the recovery of patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery. That was just one study.  Other studies have found evidence that prayer may have positive effects on health outcomes, lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety and calm depression.

Prayer is a common practice in many religious traditions around the world, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and many others. The frequency and nature of prayer practices can vary widely across different cultures and traditions. Therefore, praying is a common practice and widely accepted in our society. As Christians we understand the power of prayer because we serve the One True God. Our mental health increases and endures because we know that we are not alone.

One major benefit to prayer is that it allows us to see the needs of others. We often have to put others at the forefront of our minds. We live in a world that propagates self-centeredness. Prayer helps us to look inward and outward. Prayer helps us to be humble, compassionate and kind toward others. Many times we will make a list of people to pray for (and their specific need) which encourages us to have a vested interest in their well-being. This is a tremendous blessing to our mental health.

Another major benefit to prayer is that seek God’s wisdom and guidance. When our trials get rough, and we don’t know what to do, we can always seek guidance from God. Prayer is the perfect way to welcome God to help us in our specific situation. When we pray for wisdom, we are asking God to help us understand what we should do and how to do it correctly. God will guide us onto the right path and empower us with the strength to endure. This is especially good for our mental health. We can lay down our burdens!

It's important to note that the topic of prayer is often studied in the context of religion and spirituality, which can be complex and multifaceted topics in their own right. As Christians, we know that God hears is when we pray. We know He is compassionate and loving. So let’s pray!

Your mental health must not be taken lightly. I urge you to visit with a mental health professional if you (or a loved one) struggles with mental health. There is hope! Take your mental health seriously.

You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds

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