Many studies have looked at how health and well-being are influenced by having spiritual beliefs, praying, and attending religious services, and these have found a wide range of benefits. Here are ten of them
1) Calming Anger
(Source: Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin)
Anger not only detracts from human relationships but is also associated with increased health risks, because it puts our stress reaction into overdrive, can raise blood pressure, and if frequent or chronic, can damage the brain. Studies at Ohio State University have found that praying for the well-being of the person with whom one is angry, or even praying for someone else, calms anger and fosters positive emotions and attitudes, such as compassion, that improve overall health.
2) Recovering From Abusive Relationships
(Source: Social Psychology Quarterly)
Prayer helps victims of abusive relationships to recover a positive view
of themselves and reduces emotional pain, according to in-depth interviews
with dozens of abuse victims by a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-
Madison. In addition, people who are religious are less likely to suffer
from post-traumatic stress disorder after being victims of violence in a
3) Becoming More Forgiving
(Source: Psychological Science)
Two studies at Florida State University found that praying for a person
increases your ability to forgive that person. In one study, people who prayed
for a romantic partner harbored fewer vengeful thoughts and emotions and
were more ready to forgive and move on after a conflict.
In another study, men and women prayed for the well-being of a close
friend, daily for four weeks, while others simply thought positive thoughts
about their friend. Those who prayed were more willing to forgive, not only
the friend but other people in general. Forgiveness is associated with better
overall health and satisfaction with life.
4) Achieving Goals More Effectively
(Source: Psychological Bulletin)
Researchers at the University of Miami analyzed more than eight
decades of research and found that prayer and other religious practices
improve the ability to pursue and achieve long-term goals. 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.
5) Reducing Financial Strain
(Source: The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion)
A study of more than 800 older people found that faith and attendance
at religious services offset the emotional toll of financial strain. Researchers
at the University of Michigan found that prayer increases gratitude which, in
turn, reduces the negative impact of financial difficulties.
6) Increasing Happiness and Financial Satisfaction
(Source: Journal of Religion and Health)
A University of South Florida study of 1,413 adults found that those who
are the most religious, in terms of prayer with a positive focus, attendance at
church services, and using their faith to deal with day-to-day problems in a
positive way, are happier and more satisfied with their financial situation.
7) Enhancing Satisfaction With Life
(Source: Psychosomatic Medicine)
Helping others through one’s religious activities increases satisfaction and improves one’s outlook on life, according to a study of more than 2,000 church members located in various parts of the United States. Giving help brought about greater benefits than receiving help.
8) Improving Family Relationships
(Source: Sociological Quarterly)
Compared to non-religious teenagers, those who find meaning
and importance in religion, and continue to do so during their teen years,
experience a better relationship with each parent. And, the whole family has
a more satisfying relationship. However, when parents try to enforce beliefs
that the children do not share or easily accept, relationships can worsen.
9) Having a Happier Marriage
(Source: Journal of Marriage and Family)
Couples who share religious beliefs, practices, and affiliations are happier than those with different or no religious orientation, according to a study of nearly 1,400 Americans between the ages of 18 and 59, conducted by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. The happiest couples think, discuss, and practice their beliefs in the home, rather than only attending church services. Earlier research has identified three ways in which religion enhances marriages: By promoting ethical behavior (the Golden Rule) and forgiveness; by providing a family-oriented social network; and by bringing a sense of meaning and purpose to life, which increases resilience to stress.
10) Living a Longer Life
(Source: Health Psychology)
Numerous studies have found that people who are religious are likely to
live a longer life. For example, an analysis of 42 studies with a total of more
than 125,000 people found that in addition to private prayer, attending
religious services, and being involved in other church activities predicted a
longer and healthier lifespan