Say a little prayer

Of all human activities, prayer may perhaps be the most widely practised. In the United States for example, it is estimated that 75 per cent of people pray on a daily basis, that puts prayer ahead of both tweeting and watching Oprah (probably). Now a new piece of research has suggested at least one of the powers of prayer.

For the study a sociologist undertook in-depth interviews with victims of violent relationships with intimate partners. The results showed that prayer helped manage emotions.

When the subjects of the study were boiling with anger, prayer offered a “readily available listening ear”. They were also able to feel or express their anger toward God without fear of reprisal.

The researcher pointed out that during an interpersonal interaction the participants come to see how they look through the eyes of the other. During prayer, the victims came to see themselves as God sees them according to the researchers. Since these perceptions are mostly positive this boosts self-esteem and counteracts the abusive messages coming from the partner.

The researchers say that prayer is a legitimate social interaction but only if the person praying genuinely believes in God. If that is the case then prayer has real emotional consequences for the person who prays. It was conceded in this research though that as well as being largely positive, prayer could have negative outcomes if, for instance, people just forgave abusive partners through letting go of emotions through prayer.

Prayer is dependent on the pray-er; the one who does the praying. If they believe in their God and use prayer to heal and deal with emotions then it is immensely powerful. Whatever you think of prayer it is the most common religious practise in the world which makes any understanding of it a worthwhile endeavour.

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The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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