IS PRAYING USEFUL?
Praying has always raised issues like, is it worth, not worth? useful, not useful? and so on and so forth in the lives of people. Nowadays there are so many experiments conducted on human brain trying to get useful results through silence, meditation, prayer, to over come stress, anxiety, depression, fear, and other such closely related psychological attacks. Therefore, all of us must be concerned regarding the real benefits of prayer.
Praying…does it really help? This is a million dollar question that has been around since the beginning of time. Some say yes and some say no. So, who is right? I guess it kind of depends on your faith in God and how convinced you are about God.
What do you pray for? You can pray for anything. People often pray for their loved ones who may be sick or going through a difficult time. You may ask for help on a problem at work, or help with passing a test for school. You may pray for yourself to be a better, more tolerant person, or you may be going through a personal crisis that you can’t handle on your own. You may pray for success. But keep in mind that the meaning of "success" to you may not be the same as what it is to God. You may pray for a Mercedes so you can go to church or take the kids to school. God will help get you to church and your kids to school, but not necessarily in a Mercedes.
The psychological benefits of prayer are obvious—focusing your emotions by praying can help to relieve stress, calm fears, reduce anxiety, and impart calm in the midst of a storm. Praying on a regular basis can have an enormous effect on your psyche by stabilizing your moods, giving you a feeling of well-being, both physical and psychological, improving how you interact with others, and positively changing how you conduct yourself.
But prayer can be a boon to physical health in addition to emotional health. The physiological benefits of praying can be very far-reaching. These benefits have been studied and fully documented in medical journals. There is also a wealth of information on the benefits of praying before risky medical surgery. In a number of important studies, patients who prayed before surgery came through their operations in much better shape than those who did not pray.
Some of the most powerful and successful political leaders all over the world have professed to praying on a regular basis. The power of prayer has helped them to overcome poverty in their countries, keep their people together, and stand up to their enemies with courage and resolve.
Does God answer all prayers? I believe that God does indeed answer every prayer. It may not be the answer we are looking for, but He does answer in His own way and in His own time. Often we become impatient and expect fast results. Sometimes it may take a lifetime to get an answer. Therefore, praying and patience must go hand in hand—praying on a regular basis teaches patience and strengthens faith in God, no matter who you think of as God. There are literally thousands of articles and stories published each year by publications such as Readers Digest, Times, Out Look, to name a few, about people from all walks of life who have used prayer to benefit themselves or loved ones, often with the unexpected result of receiving more than they asked for.
So does praying really help? The answer is a resounding yes. There is an enormous amount of evidential, testimonial, and scientific proof that prayer really does help us emotionally and physically, not only in our time of need, but also—and most importantly—in our everyday lives. Prayer has untold benefits and can be experienced when done faithfully.
Meditation can help most people feel less anxious and more in control. The awareness that meditation brings can also be a source of personal insight and self-understanding.
Martin Luther said, "The fewer words the better prayer." “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (Rom 12:12). “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph 6:18). “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col 4:2). “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Mat 6:7). “Pray continually” (Tess 5:17)
Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, in The Practice of the Presence of God, has the resolution of the seeming difficulty in these two verses. He says that we should "establish ourselves in the presence of God, talking always with him" to "give ourselves entirely to God, whether in temporal or spiritual concerns" (30). He says that we "ought to act very simply towards God, speaking frankly to Him, and asking His help in things as they occurred . . ." (36). In other words, we should enter into God's presence and keep in it, as we would be in the presence of a friend at our side all day long, to whom we can talk in brief conversations throughout the day. Brother Lawrence goes on to say, "We need only to realize that God is close to us and to turn to Him at every moment, to ask for His help to learn His will in doubtful things, and to do gladly those which we clearly perceive He requires of us, offering them to Him before we begin, and giving Him thanks when they have been finished for His honour" (47). "You would think it rude to leave a friend, who came to visit you, alone; why then leave God alone?" (90).
Dr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD