SPIRITUALITY AND RELIGIOUS PRACTICE: THE POWER OF PRAYER

              There is increasing evidence that what religious people practice, such as prayer, enhances health. Since antiquity, people of every geographic area, culture, ideology, and religious belief system have used prayer as a means to positively affect their daily life and well-being. William James described prayer as “every kind of inward communication or conversation with the power recognized as divine.”

            Scientific studies suggest that if you want to live longer, frequent attendance at religious services may yield positive health benefits. Even among individuals who attend religious services once a month or more, mortality rates appear to be lower than among people who attend rarely or not at all. These benefits accrue for both Judeo-Christian and non-Judeo-Christian religions, and at least one study demonstrates a positive outcome for people who primarily and regularly practice their prayer in a non-church religious facility setting.

            We know that religiosity or spirituality is associated with lower blood pressure and less risk of developing hypertension. Blood pressure studies show a generally consistent pattern connecting greater religious involvement to lower blood pressure or a lower incidence of hypertension. There is also evidence that religious activity is associated with better blood lipid profiles, with lower LDLs and higher HDLs among those who regularly participate in religious services. Finally, there’s evidence that those who worship regularly also enjoy better immune function.

            Multiple studies on religion and health indicate “a trend toward better health and less morbidity across the board in the presence of higher levels of religiosity.”

            If you do regularly practice a religion, you can be encouraged by the positive evidence that this habit enhances your health

           People who are interested in developing their spiritual side may experience fewer hospitalizations and requires less long-term care than their peers who are less spiritual. An interesting study found a connection between spirituality and health care needs. While it’s unclear what the exact connection between spirituality and health is, evidence suggests that those who are inclined to develop their spiritual life may reap the rewards of better health.

Enriched LivingWade Cook