Covid and Prayer
by: Robert Maxwell
Pew Research reported that during the Covid Pandemic in March 2020, 58% of Americans prayed for the end of Covid. And it also reported that 25% of people who never prayed, prayed during the crisis. And Google announced in March a huge spike in the number of searches for prayer.
Maybe prayer is finally getting the attention it deserves.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article “The Science of Prayer, a woman was quoted on why she prayed. She started praying when she took a walk, putting on a mask, plugging in her ear buds and talked (prayed) while she walked, as if making a call. She said: “There’s so much uncertainty right now and so little in my power. When I bust out a quick prayer, especially out loud, I feel a shift inside myself from tension and distrust to a more trusting, hopeful feeling.”
There’s been little research done on prayer. However, the word used most often by people who pray is: it’s calming. And prayer is different than meditation according to the limited research. Meditation focuses on the now in uncluttering one’s mind and prayer focuses on a higher power.
According to the Journal, “A 2005 study in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine comparing secular and spiritual forms of meditation found spiritual meditation to be more calming. In secular meditation, you focus on something such as your breath or a nonspiritual word. In spiritual meditation, you focus on a spiritual word or text.” Also, the study compared two groups, one meditating on the word, ‘I am Love,” vs a group who meditated on the words, ‘God is Love.’ “After two weeks the researchers found that the group that practiced spiritual meditation showed greater decreases in anxiety and stress and a more positive mood.
I don’t believe that any readers of this article will find any of these findings surprising. However, it is always interesting to have outside voices endorse what many of us know. Prayer, and a spiritual connection, works and should be an important element of everyone’s mental well-being. However, as others say, prayer is just a starting point to a deeper relationship with God, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)