MONDAY SCHOOL for July 30, 2017, #4.2
from The Place Of Prayer In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … prayer.
QUOTE #2: An interesting bit of science attached to this ethnocentric and geocentric evolution of prayer comes out of Duke University Medical Center, where a study found that, within a group of 150 cardiac patients who received alternative post-operative therapy treatment, the sub-group who also received intercessory prayer (they were prayed for) had the highest success rate within the entire cohort. The fascinating thing about the study is that it was double-blind – neither the researchers, nor those on the receiving end of the intercessory prayer knew that these patients were being prayed for — suggesting an intervening variable.
A comparable double-blind study, conducted at San Francisco General Hospital’s Coronary Care Unit, demonstrated similar results. Those patients “prayed for” showed a significantly diminished need for imminent critical care, maintenance medications and heroic measures, as well as witnessing fewer deaths – again, suggesting an intervening variable.
Clearly, the intervening variable implied by these studies isn’t a case for God. It does suggest, however, some relationship between the states of consciousness experienced by those praying, and the subjective experience of those prayed for. 
QUOTE #3: 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 …
As I have discussed here and here, religion is complicated. It can be both good and bad for your health depending on a number of variables. However, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that prayer, a behavior often associated with religion, can be beneficial for individuals and society. 
QUOTE #4: Prayer is the practice of connecting to something deeper and more meaningful in life. It is rooted in a sense of spirituality. Prayer has two dimensions, one internal in the form of self-reflection and self-awareness, and the other external in a sense of connection with a depth, something bigger than the self and an inner dependency with all the other creation. Prayer, when done with the right awareness and intention and in moderation, can be beneficial in a number of ways:
1. It can give people a moderate sense of optimism and a healthy dose of hope. Optimism that there is more than the tip of the iceberg to life, and hope that when things do not go the way one wants despite reasonable effort, that there are other options.
2. It can help people cultivate a sense of gratitude. Prayer gives the person a quiet moment to use the time to appreciate the positive in life and to remember that at any moment, there is so much more positive than negative to life. And that sometimes, what seems negative may be otherwise.
3. It can help people delay gratification and control impulsive actions. By using this time to calm your mind, you can evaluate situations to see if it would create any harm and if it does, to stop yourself from doing it.
4. It can give people time to be able to see things from a broader perspective and that by itself can help with obsessive acts and compulsive thought or limited thinking. 
QUOTE #5: Researchers from Baylor University found that people who pray to a loving and protective God are less likely to experience anxiety-related disorders—worry, fear, self-consciousness, social anxiety and obsessive compulsive behavior—compared to people who pray but don’t really expect to receive any comfort or protection from God…. For many people, God is a source of comfort and strength, says researcher Matt Bradshaw, Ph.D; and through prayer, they enter into an intimate relationship with Him and begin to feel a secure attachment. When this is the case, prayer offers emotional comfort, resulting in fewer symptoms of anxiety disorders….
The findings add to the growing body of research confirming a connection between a person’s perceived relationship with God and mental and physical health. In fact, a recent study by Oregon State University found that religion and spirituality result in two distinct but complementary health benefits. Religion (religious affiliation and service attendance) is linked to better health habits, including less smoking and alcohol consumption, while spirituality (prayer, meditation) helps regulate emotions. 
THINKING IT THROUGH
What gets your attention? Why?
What is the human need or problem here?
What is that like?
SOW: What does it SAY?
What does it say that I should OBEY?
WHO needs to hear this?
What is the divine solution?
How can we visualize it?
How can we make it happen? What are the steps?
The image is from Pixabay.
 This post is based on the sermon series: The Normal Christian Church – Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Sermon #4 from The Place Of Prayer In The Normal Christian Church Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to … prayer.
 The Science, Psychology, and Metaphysics of Prayer by Michael J Formica MS, MA, EdM Posted Jul 28, 2010 at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/enlightened-living/201007/the-science-psychology-and-metaphysics-prayer.
 5 Scientifically Supported Benefits of Prayer by Clay Routledge Ph.D. Posted Jun 23, 2014 at https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/more-mortal/201406/5-scientifically-supported-benefits-prayer.
 The Positive Psychological Effects of Prayer by Michelle Roya Rad. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/roya-r-rad-ma-psyd/prayer_b_3055127.html. Dr Rad lists 14 psychological benefits of prayer in her article.
 Praying to a Loving God Guards Against Anxiety Disorders by Traci Pedersen, September 09 2014 at http://spiritualityhealth.com/blog/traci-pedersen/praying-loving-god-guards-against-anxiety. “The study, entitled “Prayer, Attachment to God, and Symptoms of Anxiety-Related Disorders among U.S. Adults” is published in the journal Sociology of Religion. For the research, investigators looked at the data of 1,714 volunteers who participated in the most recent Baylor Religion Survey. They focused on general anxiety, social anxiety, obsession and compulsion.”