What Are the Health Benefits of Prayer?

Research on the health benefits of prayer has shown decidedly mixed results. When individuals pray in a ritualistic or rhythmic way, such as saying the rosary or repeating a mantra, they can lower their heart rate. In fact, one study showed that the cardiovascular effects of rhythmic prayer are similar to that of doing yoga. Studies on the effects of intercessory prayer — that is, prayer for other people — show less optimistic results. One study even showed that people who received intercessory prayer from other people were more likely to suffer post-surgery complications.

More about the health benefits of prayer:

  • One difficulty in doing studies on the health benefits of prayer is that people who might pray regularly might also follow religious restrictions on alcohol, smoking and drugs, thereby improving their overall health. It then becomes difficult to determine whether the prayer or lifestyle choices are more responsible for any health benefits.

  • One survey showed that one-third of Americans pray about their health.

  • Another study showed that people who pray regularly are less likely to exercise than non-prayers.

More Info: www.spiritualityandhealth.duke.edu

Discussion Comments


I like to do deep breathing and repeat a mantra in time with my breathing. I believe it releases toxic stress from my body, and this can have a variety of health benefits. I always feel more centered and calm when I'm done.


It seems to me that ritualistic or rhythmic prayer would be less healthy than having a heart-to-heart with God. When you are keeping to a certain ritual, then you tend to obsess about it and lose the point of your prayer.

It's hard to keep the focus on what you are praying about when you are trying so hard to concentrate on form. This seems both obsessive and unhealthy, in my opinion.

For me, prayer is a release. It doesn't bind me up, and I truly feel a connection with God when I talk to Him like He's right here with me.


I'm sure it was just a fluke that the people in the study about intercessory prayer suffered post-surgery complications. It just doesn't make sense.

People who are being prayed for are not more likely to go downhill. If it's their time to go, they are going, but not because someone prayed for them.


@anon316083 – Amen! I feel the same way.

I believe that doing studies on the effects of prayer is stupid, because researchers are taking a sample of the population and basing the results on that. God's will is different for every individual, so you can't just select a group of people and study what happens to them.

I believe that prayer is good for both the person praying and the person being prayed for, regardless of whether God's answer is yes or no. When you pray, you are in communion with God, and that is spiritually healthy.


Absolutely, I believe in God. I'm so tired of the caustic and abrasive rhetoric that "intellectuals" use when they try to convert us. Please, if believing in God makes me dumb, I will wear my stupidity like a badge of honor.


The good Lord will always help us.


Not to be rude, but you should stick to computer advice. We had a lady who had cancer and became pregnant. She was told they had to perform an abortion or she would die. We were asked to pray for her. She fought the doctors for months who were trying to kill her baby, then a few months before she was due, she stopped chemo completely. We continued to pray for her. She is alive and well and so is her now 4 year old.

If you do not believe in God or prayer, how can you expect God to help you?

Most Christians live a nice long and healthy life (providing some anti-Christian or cult nut does not come and kill them).

It is up to God what happens in surgery - not us. All we can do is ask Him for mercy, strength and provision for the doctors and nurses to be able to do their jobs without hindrance.


This seems partially true, inasmuch as the ritual aspect or the repetition of something that can synchronize the frequency of your body would be beneficial. Meridian tapping helps me when I am hit with atrial fibrillation.

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