Mind: Medicine for the Mind, Body and Spirit (Prayer)

   From the Christian standpoint, the benefits of prayer are beyond question as it causes the insistent and humble petitioner to seek the mighty and unseen hand of God to intervene in our circumstances. To the scientist, the application of faith and the performance of miracles are questionable variables that need to be measured and hypothesized. Needless to say a number of studies by Christian and Atheist Scientists have been undertaken to test the efficacy of prayer upon physical and spiritual wellbeing leading to interesting findings.

The American National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) defines prayer as “an active process of communicating with and appealing with a higher spiritual power”- for Christians, it is God.

What Does Science Say About Prayer?

Emotional Health
Psychologists at Sheffield Hallam University studied 251 men and 223 women between 18 and 29 to determine what aspects of religious observance were more likely to influence mental wellbeing found that personal prayer was more beneficial than going to church for social reasons. They also found that although women appeared to more religious than men, it was the frequency of praying that was most strongly associated with the reduction in anxiety and depression. Those who prayed more frequently were also found to have noticeably higher self esteem.

It has also been suggested that prayer engenders a calming state of mind in an individual which improves emotional wellbeing and mood. Prayer is also associated with positive emotions such as peace, joy, hope, faith, trust and love which contribute improved state of wellbeing. There is a need however, to consider further, the effects of prayer for the “prayer” and the “prayed for”.

Research in Canada found college students involve in church activities had higher levels of psychological wellbeing, made fewer visits to the doctor and were better able to cope with stress than those who were non religious.

Physical Health
A study undertaken in Gainsville and Wayne State University in Detroit found that the most common alternative therapy used by older adults was prayer with over 96% of study participants cited it as a means to reduce stress.

A well-known double-blind scientific study conducted between 1982 and 1983 involving 393 patients in San Francisco General Hospital’s Coronary Care Unit into the therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer (praying for others) found health improvements in patients who were prayed for. They required less CPR, antibiotics, diuretics and ventilation. There were also fewer incidents of pulmonary oedema and deaths.

A study of 150 patients who had undergone angioplasty at Duke University Medical Centre by Dr Harold Koenig in 1997 and 1998 and received intercessory prayer had the greatest success rate. These patients were between 25 and 30% less likely to experience complications.

Another American study of over 4000 participants aged between 65 and 74 years who prayed and attended religious services were found to be 40% less likely to have high blood pressure than their non church going/praying counterparts.

Prayer has positive benefits for all age groups and studies have demonstrated improvements in health and wellbeing in the following ways:
(source: © hopecalls.org

Healthy Mind Articles

Alter Your Outlook Alter Your Attitude.

Attitude is the point of view from which we integrate all of our relationships...more

What are Emotions?

Emotions are considered to be complex experiences that affect both mind and body, internal and external aspects of an individual...more


The Four Loves (C.S. Lewis) uses the Greek language to describe the differences between positive emotions known collectively as "love"...more

What Makes Us Happy?

Happiness defined is the emotional state within ourselves and towards others responsible for giving us positive feelings...more

Hope As A Placebo.

Hope acts a placebo, according to Bernard Seigel, MD. I was intrigued by this statement because it seemed to...more

Is Anger Always Negative?

Our culture and upbringing is likely to influence the way we express our anger...more

What Are coping Mechanisms?

Coping mechanisms are learned patterns of behaviour that we have adopted to enable us to cope...more

Loss of Hope: Dealing with Depression.

When you are depressed, you may have feelings of extreme sadness that can last for a long time...more

In Search of Self Discipline.

Surely lack of self control isn’t completely disastrous? I do believe spontaneity has its place...more

Facing Up To Fear.

Emotions provide important clues as to the state of our inner lives more

What is Stress?

In a ‘normal’ response the physical effects of stress could be lifesaving. This is the ‘flight or fight’...more

What is Loneliness?

Contrary to popular belief, people living alone are not always socially isolated and therefore affected by loneliness...more

Emotional Wellbeing: Mental Health?

However mental health can be described in a variety of different but complementary ways...more

Building Emotional Resilience.

People who are resilient take a realistic and optimistic approach to their circumstances which enable...more


The person causing the offence can feel guilt or self- righteousness; whilst the offended party is left to feel hurt, disappointment or anger...more

Prayer: Medicine for the Mind, Body and Spirit.

From the Christian standpoint, the benefits of prayer are beyond question as it causes the insistent and humble petitioner to seek...more