Can Prayer Help Reshape Your Brain?
Written by Lydia D’Ross, Ordained Minister and Outreach Chaplain for Renewal at Brookhaven Hospital
Have you ever felt down or just felt the need to pray? When you finish praying, did you feel like the burden was lifted off of your heart?
Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania, has been scanning the brains of religious people for more than a decade. He has found that the area of the brain that is related to sensory information helps us form our sense of self. –Barbara Bradley Hagerty/NPR|May 20, 2009
Newberg says he can’t prove that a person is communing with God, but he can look for circumstantial evidence. He further said, “ the more you focus on something — whether that’s math or auto racing or football or God — the more that becomes your reality, the more it becomes written into the neural connections of your brain.” I find that to be very fascinating.
Neuroscientist Richard Davidson, from University of Wisconsin says, “Our brains are continuously being sculpted, whether you like it or not, wittingly or unwittingly.” Davidison calls it Neuroplasticity.
More and more studies from scientific research in the new field of Neuro-theology conlcude that spirituality incorporated in times of struggle and sickness can actually produce a higher positive and quicker result than those who do not pray at all.
If you have not prayed in a long time, you might struggle at first. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Start with five minutes a day of simple worship, and you will begin to see that time will stop for you. You will begin a relationship with Christ, and it will feel like you spend the day just thinking about Him.
There is no specific length of time for prayer–if you pray for 5 minutes, that is great. The important thing is to start. If you find yourself short on time, pray on the way to work, and on the way home from work. Put on some gospel music, and just sing along. You will begin to feel God’s presence with you and comforting you all day long. Focus on Him and not your problem, and you will begin to feel good about yourself.
Before you know it, your brain has developed new and more positive neural pathways, and you will find yourself remembering to pray.
Our next Pastoral seminar will be on August 13, 2015. Please contact us at 918-438-4257.