Praying is a part of our faith as believers. In hard times such as illness and sickness, one could rely on prayer to get the miracle of health through prayer. It is not uncommon we see people asking for a thankful prayer for healing because they believe God will answer the prayer quickly. But actually what is the view of prayer from a scientific point of view? Is it possible to study and are there measurable benefits? This is interesting because prayer is something spiritual while science is related to scientific facts. However, it turns out there are several studies that examine prayer and find the benefits of prayer for physical and mental health.
Many kinds of research prove that prayer help reduces stress. Prayer turns out to help reduce stress, lo. Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiovascular expert at Harvard Medical School discovered what is called a “relaxation response” that occurs when someone prays or relaxes. At that moment, the body’s metabolism will decrease, heart rate slows, blood pressure decreases and our breathing becomes calmer. This will slow down brain waves and create peace of mind. This is good for those who experience stress-related illnesses such as depression, high blood pressure, migraine, and others. It also improves self-control. Every human being needs self-control, from restraining emotions, deciding to spend or not, taking impulsive actions, to choosing healthy foods. A study conducted by the Department of Psychology at Saarland University and the University of Mannheim, Germany, in 2011 showed that prayer can prevent mental fatigue and improve self-control. People who pray before tasks that require mental strength can complete the test without experiencing cognitive fatigue. Those who do not pray are not as good as those who pray. Research at Queen’s University also found similar results.
Dr. Andrew Newberg, director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania conducted studies on Buddhist monks in Tibet and at Franciscan nuns to see the activity. One of the results of his research is prayer and meditation will increase dopamine, a hormone associated with calm and happiness. In other words, praying does increase happiness hormone, thus make people happier.