Praying is good for you

by Emily Vanden Heuvel

Did you know that prayer is good for you? Scientific studies show that prayer can improve our mental health and well-being. Dopamine and serotonin are chemical neurotransmitters found in the brain that help regulate various mental functions. They play a significant role in behavior, memory, and mood, including a general feeling of happiness. Individuals with anxiety, depression, and those recovering from traumatic events typically have lower levels of dopamine and serotonin. Spending meaningful time in prayer increases dopamine and serotonin levels.

Researchers have also seen how a regular practice of prayer creates more flexibility in how the brain can recover from trauma and stress. Furthermore, studies have shown that prayer and other meaningful spiritual activities lower blood pressure. While prayer and worship may be sufficient to promote good mental and physiological health, if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or difficulty processing a traumatic event, it's important to reach out for professional medical or psychological help. God provides these professionals for our care, here is a link to find a professional in your area.

Prayer can be good for our mental and physical health, but it is essential to our spiritual health.

  • When we pray, we have faith that God listens to us: Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

  • We put our trust in him for everything, and we know that our loving God hears us: This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

  • He even knows our secret and complex prayers that we don’t have words for: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26-27).

Mary Kate Morse, in her book A Guidebook to Prayer, describes why prayer is essential:

Prayer is the most fundamental avenue for connecting us to God and growing in our faith. Through prayer, we know who we truly are and who this God is who loves us. Prayer draws us to experience love and to be loved, increases our faith, expands our vision of God, helps us grow in self-understanding, and gives us perspective on life and death, on gardens and deserts. Through prayer, we experience forgiveness, guidance, and peace. We are healed physically and emotionally. We experience the mystery of God, see the truth, and receive spiritual gifts. We received a vision and courage for God's mission. Faith becomes more beautiful, more real (p. 14).

Prayer is good for us, mentally, physically, and spiritually. May you know God and yourself better as you pray and experience his grace.