Did you know that praying helps regulate hormones? Could this be some type of divine intervention? Or is it simply a result of positive thinking? No matter what you believe, there is a growing body of scientific research that demonstrates prayer can have a positive effect on health.
One of the most common theories for the power of prayer is that the act of praying relieves stress, which is a key factor in the development of heart disease. When you are under stress, your body releases hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, to deal with it. These hormones increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Over time, they can result in an increase in abdominal fat as well. These factors set the stage for coronary artery disease. Studies have found over and over again that the act of praying induces a calm state, which can make these hormones dissipate.
But it’s not only direct prayer that works: Studies are also indicating that prayer can be beneficial even when it’s indirect. This is known as intercessory prayer, which refers to the act of being prayed for by someone else.
One study conducted at San Francisco General Hospital looked at the effect of prayer on 393 cardiac patients. The patients were divided into two groups. Although both groups were told that people were praying for them, in fact, prayers were being said for only one group. This study, published in the Southern Medical Journal, found that the patients who were prayed for had more favorable outcomes, including fewer complications, fewer cases of pneumonia, and they required less drug treatment.
Another more recent study done at Duke University Medical Center looked at 150 cardiac patients who were admitted for coronary stenting. They were given the following non-medical therapies: guided imagery, stress relaxation, healing touch, or intercessory prayer. Researchers found that only the patients that were being prayed for had lower complication rates and a quicker recovery.