Psychological Benefit of Prayer
The apostle Paul, in an epistle to the Galatian Saints due to troubling doctrines regarding the Law of Moses, fulfilled in the Atonement of Jesus Christ, gave a key to understanding what type of fruit grows from planting the tree of the truths of Holy Spirit in the fertile soil of their open hearts.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23.
The Spirit of God produces those signs in the minds of all those who hear and accept the truth, which it is the job of the Holy Spirit. Praying is how God desires people to communicate with Him. In answer to those prayers of faith, He sends the Spirit to testify of the truth of the thing the petitioner desires. When the Spirit is near, one or all of these emotions will accompany Him:
Longsuffering (Tolerance or Patient Endurance)
Pay attention to those feelings during the day.
What activities are going on where those feelings are present?
All of these good feelings are those that are associated with people who have a healthy prayerful relationship with God. Caution: Having this prayerful relationship does not mean life will be free of cruelty or difficulty. The promise is the Holy Spirit will bring comfort in at least one of the nine aforementioned forms, specific to the need at the time.
Carl Rogers, an American psychologist considered one of the foundational credits to humanistic practice to psychology, spoke of unconditional positive regard people need to help them become actualized.
- Unconditional: Without terms.
- Positive Regard: Acceptance.
- Actualized: Aware and Confident in ability, purpose.
The benefit of having a person (friend or therapist) who accepts without terms is the satisfaction that someone knows all the darkness of a man or woman's soul and still chooses to love that soul. It allows a person to blossom and grow into self-actualization: self-aware, confident in ability and purpose.
A person who is self-actualized makes a great friend him- or herself to offer unconditional positive regard, a rare quality for most of humanity. This junction reveals the importance of God, the most, actualized being in the universe who has perfectly unconditional positive regard for all. God provides this confident support to billions of people around the globe of all faiths.
(A) study by Columbia University found that participating in regular meditation or other spiritual practice actually thickens parts of the brain’s cortex, and this could be the reason those activities tend to guard against depression — especially in those at risk for the disease.— Traci Pedersen
God of Love or Hell-Fire God
Most commonly, God the Father speaks by a spiritual and peaceful feeling of pure understanding and love through the Holy Ghost. Occasionally He speaks in voice through the Holy Ghost. Rarely he sends an angel, vision or dream. God appeared personally to Adam and Eve, Moses, Jesus Christ, and to Joseph Smith Jr.
How is that a psychological benefit? For one, stable people come from stable mental states. Media today portrays religious people in varying degrees of fundamentalist states of emotional dissonance and fracture. In reality, however, people of strong religious faith who pray with a positive relationship with God are the most stable in society.
The key to actualization with God is POSITIVE unconditional Regard. The relationship with God must have a foundation of trust and love, not fear of hell-fire. Depending on an individual's upbringing will determine which relationship model becomes the basis of a healthy prayerful approach to God.
Traci Paterson, a writer at Psych Central whose article is generously consulted here, asks,
What are your deepest beliefs regarding the nature of God?
When you pray, do you talk to a loving, protective and easily accessible God?
Or does God feel strangely distant and unreachable? Perhaps a disciplinarian?1
Paterson cites several studies that support the idea of actualization. A loving God, one with whom the majority of people in the study identify, produces the same type of people, loving people.
A disciplinarian God, produces people ruled by fear. These people have no positive relationship with God seeing prayer as a fearful obligation. In that state, there is no communication with the Spirit of God. Paterson cites a truth that psychologist "discovered" during the studies, something with which faithful praying people are readily familiar:
A new study says that your beliefs about the “character” of God determine the effects of prayer on your mental health.1
Gradually, attuning ourselves to the infinite, we come to experience something majestic and divine at work in our universe, and a deep sense of being cared for and loved. We become aware too of a great kinship with each other, with the entirety of humanity without discrimination, and also with our planet and the magnificent realm of nature. There are no barriers to these seamless connections between God, people and creation.— Larry Culliford, author of ‘The Psychology of Spirituality'
The Mental Stability of Prayer
Larry Culliford, English Psychiatrist and author wrote:
[S]omething really happens during silent prayer.
At the biological level, our brain waves change and the two sides of our brain – the verbal, ego-driven, rational, materialistic left hemisphere and the silent, altruistic, poetic, intuitive right hemisphere – communicate more harmoniously with one another.
Emotional blockages get subtly and gradually worn away, promoting protection from anxiety, healing from loss, and growth towards joy and inner peace.
There may be a sudden breakthrough, but the process is more often gradual, perhaps almost imperceptible, which is why perseverance in the practice is advised.3
Harmonious communication between the brain hemispheres and emotional healing and discovery Larry suggests are benefits from contemplative positive communication, prayer, with God. Prayer and medication help to bring order to the mind making it easier to tackle the challenges of life be they losses of major significance or navigating the freeway during rush hour traffic.
Because God is perfect, His regard towards each of His children is unconditional. He Loves all mankind without regard to religion or station. He will listen and buoy up any soul that will hear and obey His voice. No matter how vile the sinner or the crime, God loves the person.
Truly He blesses all men equally when it comes to answering prayers and providing comfort and truth. Prayer is a way to counsel with God. If the petitioner truly speaks with God and awaits Him to speak again, it will occur.
Many modern people laugh, bringing shame to those who would admit hearing a voice or having a peaceful feeling.
Billions know that God has spoken to them through words, feelings or both. Many have had dreams and waking visions of God. The true way to know God happens when people speak to Him. He will speak back if faith sufficient to hear is there.
- Traci Pedersen - New Study Examines the Effects of Prayer On Mental Health.1 Baylor University researchers suggest our views of God affect not only how we pray but also our mental health.
- 11 Amazing Emotional and Psychological Effects of Prayer | Religion.2 Prayer is a way to connect to God and it brings a number of beneficial effects.
- Larry Culliford - What Is Prayer? | Psychology Today.3 More skillful than asking for miracles is the regular practice of attuning to the infinite.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2018 Rodric Anthony Johnson