How Prayer Takes the Edge Off?
It’s prayer time! How often do you pray? Maybe that’s the wrong question. Do you usually pray? Whether you pray or not, here is a fact you should know: Whenever you feel angry and want to yell at someone, saying a prayer reduces that feeling of anger and makes you feel normal again, according to a new study.
In this study, researchers Ryan Bremner, Department of Social Psychology at the University of Michigan, and Brad Bushman, Ph.D., Ohio State University, have proven that prayer does wonder. In their study, they conclude that prayer takes the edge off.
According to them, two groups of individuals (those who pray and those who don’t) had very different reactions to the same scenario.
What is prayer in the first place?
Within the Christian faith, prayer is merely a relationship whereby we worship, communicate, and seek with sincerity the face of God, with the knowledge that He loves us, hears us, and will respond to the prayer. Common prayers include the oracion del dominio en El Rincón del Vago, the Lord’s prayer, and the Guardian Angel Prayer, just to name a few.
What does prayer do, especially when you’re angry?
The study suggests that prayer can help regulate the emotions of an individual to promote cognitive reappraisal, that is, to change the way of thinking about a certain event and then to change the feeling toward the event.
For example, the researchers provided an anger-provoking scenario of a robber who breaks into a house, steals valuables, and then injures the residents. One group was asked to pray for the robber and the other to simply think about the robber.
Individuals who were asked to pray seemed less angry than those who only thought about the scenario. People who prayed for the robber, instead of thinking only about how that person was horrible and inhumane, probably prayed to God to have mercy on him (as the Christian faith urges its followers to do). This thought might have led to less anger and retaliation, and more compassion, given time and space. Evidently, you can say that prayer affects anger according to this experiment.
This effect of prayer on anger, however, does not depend on the number of times one prays, one’s attendance record at church, or even one’s gender.
Indeed, prayer calms anger and aggression, but why? Researchers have yet to find the answer.
What prayer is not
As much as prayer calms anger or aggression, it is important to understand that prayer is not:
- Magic: God can’t be summoned like a genie and grant your wishes, regardless of the consequences and circumstances.
- A guarantee against suffering: It is stated in the scriptures that trouble is inevitable, but that one should turn to God during those hard times to seek glory, which is not guaranteed.
In conclusion, the new study sustains that prayer is the key to ward off that first aggressive thought in mind. Before any reaction, take a moment and say a word of prayer. Don’t forget that prayer takes the edge off.
I’m a licensed psychometrician, author, and blogger. I’m currently working as a University instructor teaching psychology. I love writing and doing psychological research.