Twelve Quotes on Prayer and Its Effect on Well-Being

Updated on December 11, 2018
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and Certified Christian Counselor, explores attitudes and actions that can help us maintain our mental well-being.

Neurotheology, the study of neurological responses to religious experiences, is a relatively new science. Neuroscientist, Dr. Andrew Newberg, is considered the founder of neurotheology and has studied this topic since the 1990s.

Newberg's research shows that various parts of the brain are affected in different ways by prayer and other religious rituals. Dr. Richard Sloan (psychiatrist) argues that the brain changes when anything happens: “There’s nothing special about showing brain changes when people pray.” Sloan’s comment may dishearten those who expect changes in the brain to result in healing for the body.

But what if prayers result in other positive health benefits besides physical cures? Is it possible for prayers to improve general well-being?

Areas of the Brain Affected by Prayer

MindHealth
MindHealth | Source

Explanations by Dr. Andrew Newberg

  • The frontal lobe is activated by prayer and focused attention. This area shrinks with age, but if prayer is done on a regular basis, it may slow the age-related decline of the frontal lobe.
  • In the parietal lobe, people establish a sense of self and separation from others. Prayer diminishes that feeling, enabling them to feel connected.
  • Prayer increases activity in the anterior cingulate just behind the frontal lobe, which is affected when we empathize with others.
  • The limbic system (which includes the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, septal area, and cingulate cortex) becomes activated when we feel anger, resentment, and other destructive or pessimistic emotions. Prayer can prevent negative emotions in the limbic system from becoming activated.

This content was extracted from a MindHealth interview with Dr. Newberg.

Changes Resulting in General Well-Being

The following quotes register opinions of scientists and conclusions of scientific data (published in scientific journals) which affirm brain changes resulting from prayer. Prayer produces changes in thoughts and emotions which results in improved well-being.

From Individual Scientists

1. Praying involves the deeper parts of the brain: the medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex—the mid-front and back portions. These parts of the brain are involved in self-reflection and self-soothing. (Dr. David Spiegel, psychiatrist).

2. Prayer and meditation are highly effective in lowering our reactivity to traumatic and negative events. They are powerful because they focus our thoughts on something outside ourselves. (Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, clinical and consulting psychotherapist)

3. When we sit down and engage in prayer or meditation, we are able to shift away from this frightened and stressed survival mode into "an intentional state" and ultimately “reengage our prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that rules our executive functioning and enables us to make intelligent mindful decisions." (Ibid.)

Source

4. Even though toxic thought causes brain damage, prayer can reverse that damage and cause the brain and body to thrive. (Megan Kelly, Nutrition Practitioner)

5. It has been found that 12 minutes of daily focused prayer over an 8 week period can change the brain to such an extent that it can be measured on a brain scan. This type of prayer increases activity in brain areas associated with social interaction compassion and sensitivity to others. (Dr. Caroline Leaf, Christian neuroscientist)

6. Oxytocin . . . (gives) a good feeling despite living in a world of threat . . . so when a situation comes up and you're out of ideas and you are helpless, feeling much like you did when you were a baby, prayer can provide some other source of hope. (Dr. Loretta Graziano Breuning, author Habits of a Happy Brain)

7. One of the purposes of prayer and meditation is to regain our footing so that we can step out into the world and take positive action: we reconnect, re-center, recharge and gain the strength necessary to take steps that will create real change. In other words, prayer is the fuel that lights the fire of action. (Dr. Paul Hokemeyer)

StockSnap
StockSnap | Source

From Scientific Journals

8. Prayer affects regions of the brain that improve self-control, and people who view their goals as sacred put more effort and energy into attaining them. (Psychological Bulletin)

9. Praying in an online support group helped breast cancer patients experience less stress, have lower levels of negative emotions, and experience well-being. (PsychoOncology)

10. Prayers help victims of abusive relationships to recover a positive view of themselves and reduce emotional pain. (Social Psychology Quarterly)

11. Prayer increases gratitude which, in turn, reduces the negative impact of financial difficulties. (International Journal for the Psychology of Religion)

The Faith Factor

Newberg stresses that there is a faith factor that causes prayer to effect any positive changes in believers. The concluding quote explains it.

12. As far as we know, it [prayer] is not a cure for cancer. It is not going to cure somebody of heart disease. We can’t tell people to pray in order to get better—that doesn’t really make sense. The reason that it works is because it is part of the person’s belief system. (Andrew Newberg)

Prayer Habit Poll

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Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Dora Weithers

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      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        6 hours ago

        Apologies. It looks like i made a few spelling mistakes the last time. A bit ( embarrassing ) but then i did spend a few years away at an early age and literally tought myself to read and write, puting letters and words together to write back home.

        Strange how the mind works, you would think memory would stop you making the same mistakes, but every now and then for some reason, it's like I'm learning to read and write again.

        Embarrassing.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        8 hours ago

        MsDora. Truth faith is not about agreeing on everything or about trying to change the minds of others via discussions. The faith is "Much" "Much" bigger than all that. It involves Free Will, and freedom of thought, that's one big reason why we have a brain. ( Wish JWs understood this )

        Differences of opinions as long as they're are not salvational in nature can make us grow spiritualy. ( Who want to live in a world where we all think the same thoughts ) ? What a drag.

        Had enough of that with the JWs. Eric is a happy man by the sounds of it, and i dont think he's disagreeing with you as a person, he just disagrees with you on that one point.

        When the bible in ( 1 Corinthians 1:10 ) talks about being '"perfectly united in mind and thought" that don't literally mean thinking the same thoughts on all things, it means agreeing to disagree on some points and being willing to let some things go and make compromises for the greater good.

        One thing that's more important than the trivial differences of opinions is how them differences are delt with.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        9 hours ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, I am sure that I could understand your perspective if we discussed it. No worry. You can't help but love.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        13 hours ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Number 8 for today. I think I disagree. I hope I am seeing it in a loving light.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        14 hours ago

        Following on from Dey-T "1 peter 5:6" applies to all [ especially ] preachers and teachers who need to set the example in humility.

        Something i was thinking about, would you still do what you do if you never received any recognition ?

        Don't let your left hand know what the right hand is doing is a good tester. God who sees in secret rewards in secret.

        Go ahead MsDora. Post this, and i may trust you.

      • profile image

        Dey-T 

        14 hours ago

        Even some of the best ~well known~ preachers and teachers wont take credit for the work they do, in fact, they dont call it their work as you do.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        27 hours ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Pam. You cannot lose by trusting in God, Thanks for endorsing prayer as the connection between Him and you.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        27 hours ago from The Caribbean

        Denise, thanks for sharing the importance of prayer in your life. You speak for many others who believe in the power of prayer the way you do.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        27 hours ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, you offer such sweet encouragement. Prayer contributes to love and joy in families like yours.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        29 hours ago from Sunny Florida

        I loved learning about the wonderful effects of prayer. I trust God always, and prayer is the connection. Thank for writing an article that shows the positve effects of prayer and meditation.

      • denise.w.anderson profile image

        Denise W Anderson 

        38 hours ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

        For me, prayer is a lifeline. It is as important to my spiritual well being as eating, sleeping, and exercise are to my physical well-being. I don't leave my bedroom in the morning without first connecting with God and asking for his assistance and blessing on myself and my loved ones. Thanks for this reminder of how important prayer is in our lives.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        2 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Today I focus on fellowship via number 3 in which I see the tone. I played a fun game yesterday with my boy; What makes prayer better? I tried to shuck to the side by relating #3. Not one heartbeat missed. "That is easy dad. doing it with gramma Tam"

        That congregational fellowship just amps up this prayer deal. Like something like 4 x's 5 equals 200.

        Thank you again.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        2 days ago from The Caribbean

        Peg, thanks for sharing your testimony of faith. I'm also a believer and I can be sure many other readers are too. We have learned from our experiences.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        2 days ago from The Caribbean

        Devika, thanks for your affirmation. Keep on praying. Keep on getting stronger and happier.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        2 days ago from Dallas, Texas

        Very nicely explained, Dora. Dr. Newberg's first observation is enough to encourage all to pray. Prayer can also bring much needed help in the physical as well as the mental plane. I believe in the power of prayer and have more than once experienced results when seeking help through times of difficulty.

      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 

        2 days ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        I pray once a day and that helps me be stronger and happier.

      • profile image

        2 days ago

        You're right. God gets the credit for all. *dont do him any favours*

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, bill. My pleasure to research and write about anything that can benefit our well-being. Nothing better than prayer.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 days ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, I believe with you. Keep on loving and claim the cure in Jesus' name.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        3 days ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        Educational and informative - that's how I'd classify this hub. Maybe even motivational. Thanks for all your fact-finding and sharing it with us.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        3 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Excuse me again. We did twelve this morning. We think that love is curing my cancer. Prayer to God is the best of all love. We just hug and love.

        One more time, Thanks.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        3 days ago from The Caribbean

        You're welcome, Jason. My response to this information is the same as yours - more commitment.

      • manunulat profile image

        Jason M Quinapondan 

        3 days ago from Cebu, Philippines

        Thanks for this hub Ms. Dora. It is very informative and encouraging. I am more inspired to be more dedicated and committed to my prayer life. Now I have another good reason to do it.... Thanks Ms. Dora. All of us needs hub like this. Keep writing!...

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 days ago from The Caribbean

        Yves, thanks for your contribution to the topic. Science does not disprove the miracles They refrain from endorsing them but there are many individuals who need no other endorsement than what they experienced.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 days ago from The Caribbean

        True, Eric. All the mysteries out there only add to our awareness that God is truly great!

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Linda. We have to agree with Mother Teresa's quote. It's hard to change people but prayer can do that which is proof of its value. I appreciate your input.

      • savvydating profile image

        Yves 

        4 days ago

        I liked Mother Teresa's quote, and it would seem that medical science agrees with her. That being said, I still believe in big, fantastic miracles, too. A most thoughtful and useful article, Ms. Dora. I found it very encouraging.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        4 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Today Ms. Dora we went to the brain - "Wow!!" "Prayer does that?". Thanks again. We have yet to reach 1 billion stars as identifiable. Yet the "human body has 95 to 100 billion neurons or nerve cells." Prayer can move all of them into action.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        5 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thanks for sharing this information, Dora. The topic that you've chosen for this article interests me very much. I strongly believe in the quote shown in your second photo. Whether we are praying to our higher self (whatever that may be) or a separate entity, I think that prayer can have value, though perhaps not in the way that some people believe. Thank you for the thought-provoking article.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks,Tim. Your expression of faith is exemplary and inspiring, and I agree with your explanation.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        5 days ago from U.S.A.

        Hello, Ms. Dora,

        Science turns on its head every few years. I don't require science to affirm anything for me; however, I enjoy reading about the research which goes forth. Science is temporary, His gifts to humanity are permanent. Even the basics of those gifts mankind has yet to unravel. (What makes a seed grow. Why do we learn? The purpose of our existence, etc.) Science is based on man's understanding of his limited access to the world he inhabits which leads him to make faulty conclusions. (Not saying that in this case. The work appears solid.)

        But affirmations are not sought by me through what man discovers.

        Thank you.

        Sincerely,

        Tim

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thank you, Manitata for your evaluation. Sure, you're heart-oriented and I love your work. Different people receive different gifts and you use yours excellently. You're right. God gets the credit for all.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        5 days ago from london

        I tend to give credit to everything, as I do believe all comes from God. So that means that even the scientist and researchers have their roles. I'm glad, not so much for their research, but for the fact that they seem able to prove that prayer helps.

        You continue to write very well but still, I'm of the devotional mould. Faith, hope, charity, devotion … I'm not for the mind's approach so much, as I'm essentially a Heart-orientated person. Still, we are all different. It is still a useful article for some. Peace.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thank you, Sean. We couldn't have said it better: finding time for prayers is finding time to LIVE! I appreciate your contribution.

      • Sean Dragon profile image

        Ioannis Arvanitis 

        5 days ago from Greece, Almyros

        I was thinking for quite a long now to write about the ways prayer improve our well being both mentally and bodily and I am glad to see that you, my dear sister, wrote this excellent article! Thank you for your research! I believe it will be a motive for many to think again that finding time for prayers is finding time to LIVE!

        God bless you!

        Sean

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Jackie, I remember reading in one of your articles that prayer could delay or prevent Alzheimer's. The scientific data supports that fact in a round about way. We know and believe what prayer can do.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Tim, for sure prayer impacts us spiritually. We know from experience and no scientific data is needed for affirmation. Thanks for your contribution.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 

        5 days ago from The Beautiful South

        So interesting Dora.

        I just wonder could it be the act of just handing our problems over to someone else and releasing that burden from ourselves. Whether or not... it give us reason to get in prayer as aften as possible, doesn't it?

        This is one of my favorites.

      • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

        Tim Truzy 

        5 days ago from U.S.A.

        Hi, Ms. Dora,

        Wonderful article about how prayer can impact us medically. I'm certain it impacts us spiritually.

        Prayer and faith walk hand in hand and work wonders for the brain, soul, and heart

        Thank you for your very interesting, informative, and well written article.

        Much respect and admiration,

        Tim

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Liz. It's a great topic for research and study. We should all be interested.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        5 days ago from UK

        I have recently been reading about the positive effect of prayer. So your article amplifies the point.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, you've got your work cut out for you -- just part of the good-dad package. God bless you!

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        5 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Dora I just finished my online Catechism daily lesson and it was about prayer. So I had to come back. #10 hit me. Last night my son asked me what that is.

        See you again tomorrow.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Rajan. So many people have given testimonies of healing. They keep our faith growing while we wait on the scientists. Like you, I believe.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Bill, thanks for your testimony. Most of us are aware, like you are, that we could not rise above the hurdles of life without prayer to help us over.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Mary. I had read some of these scientific data before, but never knew there was a name for this type of study. I'm impressed too and will try to keep up.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Chitrangada. I'm sure that you have experienced many blessings resulting from your life of prayer. What the scientists say is encouraging, but no better witness than the pray-er.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Lori, thanks for the affirmation. I do not doubt that you speak from experience about the power of prayer.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        5 days ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, thanks again, this time for sharing your faith in a very practical illustration.

      • rajan jolly profile image

        Rajan Singh Jolly 

        5 days ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

        Science today is just confirming the truth our scriptures told us thousands of years ago that prayer is very powerful. It gives us the strength to face any adverse situation with positivity, and, I believe it can heal as well. Maybe, science will one day confirm this too.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 days ago from Olympia, WA

        I love the medical explanation. All I know is I'm alive because of the power of prayer, so this topic holds special meaning to me.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        5 days ago from Ontario, Canada

        You've introduced me to a new science, Neurotheology. I will be following this from now on as I do believe that prayer does so much for us.

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 

        5 days ago from New Delhi, India

        Wonderful article and I do agree with you that prayers have positive effects on our well being.

        I completely believe in the power of prayers and meditation. I do pray every day to have peace of mind. It gives me a reassurance that I am not alone and he will take care of me, in every favourable and unfavourable situations of life.

        Thanks for sharing this beautiful article!

      • lambservant profile image

        Lori Colbo 

        6 days ago from Pacific Northwest

        Very interesting topic Dora. Prayer changes the soul, revives the spirit and the body.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        6 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Dora the thanks are all to God giving you us in our life. When we sleepy wake up we say 'one foot in front of the other but Jesus first'.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        6 days ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, I am honored to have your very intelligent little man show interest in my work. No surprise, though. I believe that his little heart is filled with love and prayer, due to the influence of his dad. Thanks for your encouragement.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        6 days ago from The Caribbean

        Whonu, happy that you stopped by. Thanks for your encouragement and your blessings.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        6 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        "thank you Miss Dora,I enjoyed this,dad liked it too"

        Well Dora that is from my 8 year old. I reckon your good works do for all generations. Much fun talk and feeling not to mention thinking which we put low. We run a strange rig around here, the goal is love:

        "Prayer affects regions of the brain that improve self-control, and people who view their goals as sacred put more effort and energy into attaining them."

      • whonunuwho profile image

        whonunuwho 

        6 days ago from United States

        Excellent work, my friend. Well done. Many blessings to all. whonu

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