Thursday, December 16, 2010

Prayer to 'Imagined' God Helps Anxiety: Study

Talking to a perceived higher power helped women cope with their emotions and abusive situations in various ways — by allowing them to vent without fear of a violent reaction, to view themselves in a positive light and simply to distract themselves from their immediate situation.

"Instead of a concrete interaction you would have face-to-face with another person, prayer is with an imagined other."

-- From "Prayer helps vent anger, up self-worth" posted at UPI 12/14/10

Shane Sharp, a graduate sociology student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, interviewed dozens of victims of violent relationships with intimate partners and found prayer helped them not only vent anger, but it raised their self-worth and distracted them from their anxiety.

"I looked at the act of praying, of speaking to God, as the same as a legitimate social interaction," Sharp says in a statement.

"The important point is that they believe God is real, and that has consequences for them emotionally and for their behavior."

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Explaining the Healing Power of Prayer" by Meredith Melnick, Time Magazine 12/15/10

"Victims who used prayer to express their anger and frustration perceived God as a loving parental or friendly figure who was nonjudgmental and forgiving; thus, victims felt they could express their anger to this other in interaction without fear of judgment or negative retaliation," author Shane Sharp wrote in the study published in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly. "During prayer, victims came to see themselves as they believed God saw them. Since these perceptions were mostly positive, it helped raise their senses of self-worth that counteracted their abusers' hurtful words."

About 75% of Americans pray on a daily or weekly basis, but researchers are only just beginning to examine the psychological impact of the practice. Sharp finds that like real conversations with close friends or family, conversations with an imaginary other — God, that is — offer the same kind of social interaction and support for people who are isolated or victimized. And unlike conversations held in counseling sessions or with other people, prayer can be invoked during actual episodes of abuse.

While the participants of the current study tended to identify as religious and were victims of extreme circumstances, Sharp suggests the findings may apply to the rest of us as well. He views prayer as a social — rather than purely religious — interaction, so he thinks even atheists can benefit from talking with an imagined listener.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read, Church is About Friendships, NOT God: Study