75 percent of Americans believe that prayer is an important part of daily life. Other polls indicate that even some atheists and religiously unaffiliated individuals admit that they sometimes pray.
Our species has probably been praying for as long as we have been able to contemplate our existence. And though we may never be able to establish evidence that a deity or spiritual force actually hears our prayers, in recent years, scientists have begun to consider the potential tangible (i.e., measurable) effects of prayer. And this research suggests that prayer may be very beneficial.
So here are five scientifically-supported benefits of prayer:
1. Prayer improves self-control
2. Prayer makes you nicer
3. Prayer makes you more forgiving
4. Prayer increases trust
5. Prayer offsets the negative health effects of stress
Researchers found that people who prayed for others were less vulnerable to the negative physical health effects associated with financial stress. Also, it was the focus on others that seemed to be contributing to the stress-buffering effects of prayer. Praying for material gain did not counter the effects of stress. So thinking about the welfare of others may be a crucial component of receiving personal benefits from prayer.
There is a growing body of evidence indicating that prayer, a behavior often associated with religion, can be beneficial for individuals and society.