Tonight many of us will gather in houses of worship to pray and reflect on the meaning of Christmas. While praying with others offers support and a sense of community, I’ve found that a personal prayer practice is even more powerful, enriching my life in countless ways. In fact, it’s essential to my happiness, health, and mental wellbeing.
Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one’s weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
For me, prayer is a time to deepen my connection with God. Just sitting quietly, with an open heart and no words, brings me a lasting sense of peace and wellbeing. I emerge from my time of prayer a different person: calmer, happier, and more open to growth.
Prayer not only provides spiritual benefits but many physical benefits, as well. In tests, people who prayed daily for a minimum of two weeks not only showed reduced stress but also had stronger immune systems, better sleep, and lower blood pressure. In addition, the test subjects showed an increase in mental capacity and improved memory.
Even though prayer does have measurable health benefits, it still needs to be done as an act of faith and devotion, without any expectations.
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
― Søren Kierkegaard
Prayer involves releasing our personal will and allowing what will be. It’s a huge relief to just let things go and trust that all will be well.
If you don’t currently make time in your day for prayer and meditation, I encourage you give this valuable practice a try. After just a few days, you may notice that the little things don’t bother you as much, your mood is elevated, and your relationships seem to be magically transformed. Soon you won’t let a day go by without spending some time in prayer.
Do you already have a regular prayer and meditation practice? If so, how has it changed your life? Please share!