When I was at college studying to be a Holistic Kinesiologist one of my assignments in my first year was to research and present any topic on energy. I wanted to do something different to the usual topics of Reiki, meridian or chakra work so I chose prayer.
Prayer means different things to different people but basically it is the manifestation of hope in people, our ability to say that we don’t know everything and that there is someone or something larger and wiser than we are that can provide us with guidance. This something or someone which transcends us has been given various names, “God” being the most popular in the West. Of course one person may view God traditionally as the loving Father and to another person, God can be as abstract as cosmic consciousness, or as down-to-earth as the beauty of the oceans and mountains. The theologian Ann Ulanov describes prayer as “the most fundamental, primordial, and important language humans speak”.
Whatever the definition, prayer has been used as a healing tool for centuries. It may be individual or communal, private or public, formal or informal. It may be offered in words, gestures, movement or in silence. It may come when you are in the shower, at work, in a hammock, or doing the ironing. You can make up your own prayer or read one from a book. Prayer may flow from the subconscious and it may even emerge in dreams, completely bypassing waking awareness. Despite prayer being one of the most ancient of healing practices, the scientific literature studying prayer is still quite young. Albert Einstein in his book “The World as I See It” says, “Historically one is inclined to look upon science and religion as irreconcilably antagonistic … I maintain that cosmic religious feeling is the strongest and noblest incitement to scientific research.” Others have felt the same way and research on the power of prayer has and is being undertaken at an increasing rate each year. If you are interested you can find many of the studies online.
Whilst doing my own research on prayer I came across a multitude of stories of people who had horrific accidents or were suffering terminal illnesses but who all recovered fully. In all of these cases, the individuals concerned believed that whilst medical care certainly played a role, they believed it was prayer that changed their odds and brought about their remarkable recoveries. Again, you can find many of these individual examples online.
What we do know is that prayer that uplifts or calms actually changes our physiology; our heart rate slows, our blood pressure drops and the stress hormones; cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine are inhibited. So we feel more at peace. Many experts believe that this sense of peace strengthens our immune system. If we take this a step further then it is reasonable to assume that prayer which provides comfort and peace will influence the propensity for you to get disease or how you recover from a disease. Pretty amazing I think.
In closing I would like to offer up a simple suggestion. And that is to include prayer in your life in whatever form you are comfortable with, whether that be meditation, traditional prayer, movement, singing etc… The correlation between prayer and health and emotional well being is a strong one and I believe this is something that can easily be added to our wellbeing toolbox.
Below is one of the most beautiful prayers I found during my research. I resonated with this one in particular as it is all encompassing.