The Power Of Prayer
Praying for someone else – called intercessory prayer – may or may not help the target of the prayer. People of faith believe in the power of prayer to truly help those for whom we have prayed. But the effectiveness of prayer on someone else is unknowable, at least by today’s scientific means.
God operates outside the bounds of our realm and our understanding. So, we just have to take the power of prayer on faith.
I know a lot of people who pray. The happiest and healthiest seem to be the ones who pray for others. Have you noticed this?
My good friend, Dr. Kenneth Mills, a clinical psychologist and missionary, says it works in his life,
“Any time I am in the presence of God, in conversation with Him in prayer, it always has benefits for me, no matter the subject of our conversation. Selfishness – focus on myself – even in prayer, is a product of distorted thinking. When I am more focused on others and less focused on my own petty issues, I am always better for it.”
“I commend intercessory prayer, because it opens man’s soul, gives a healthy play to his sympathies, constrains him to feel that he is not everybody, and that this wide world and this great universe were not after all made that he might be its petty lord, that everything might bend to his will, and all creatures crouch at his feet.”
Science & The Power Of Prayer
But what do scientists have to say about the subject? Much the same. According to psychiatrist Harold Koenig of Duke University,
“I think for the person who is praying, that praying for someone else is better than praying for him/herself… If you’re praying for someone else, that’s like a prayer one step above because that means you’re concerned about the benefit of that other person, which is something which, according to the scriptures, you’re rewarded for.
I have been unable to find studies that have taken a direct look at the benefit of intercessory prayer on the person doing the praying. However, I’d call this an act of kindness toward others. We talked about this recently,
Humans, it once was thought, only did things when they got something back. Not true. Brain studies show that when we give money to what we consider good causes, the same region of the brain lights up as if we had received some pleasurable stimuli. The University of Wisconsin-Madison found that altruists in the office are more likely to be committed to their work and less likely to quit their jobs. This data tells me that giving – or doing for others – feels good, is good for your physical and mental health, and makes you happier, even at work.
Pray for someone else the next time you are consumed with your own problems. I believe you will feel your view shift. Let us know how it works for you.