Saturday, March 15, 2014

Prayer and Subjective Well-being

Researchers at the University of Illinois studied the correlation of prayer type with subjective well-being.
Participants were assessed for the types of prayer they engaged in: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, reception and obligatory prayer. They were also assessed for subjective well-being, using measures that included spiritual support, optimism/pessimism, meaning of life, life satisfaction and self-esteem.
Prayers of thanksgiving, adoration and reception were statistically significant predictors of positive subjective well-being, while prayers of confession, obligation and supplication were significantly correlated with negative well-being.
 Prayers of adoration, thanksgiving and receptivity are aimed at allowing things to be as they are without referring to needs and outcomes. Prayers of obligation, confession and supplication are aimed at a desired outcome or an obligatory measure to avoid an outcome. With relationship to the Self, the latter (negative well-being) prayers are self-focused versus the prayers associated with positive well-being are God-focused. The authors noted, “To a large extent, these egoless forms of prayer are an attempt to give something to God.”
In the Abrahamic traditions, prayer is the medium through which union with God in the Spirit of love and adoration takes place. Many of the non-Abrahamic traditions, Buddhism and Hinduism for example, include meditation/prayer practices with an objective of negating ego-self. Meditation and mindfulness practices are being widely used in behavior therapy as a means to reduce anxiety and treat certain cognitive disorders. Neurophysiologic studies are demonstrating  physiological evidence of brain activity during stress and during meditation that correlates with awareness and emotional arousal and  inhibition.
Prayer, or the process of being in quiet reflection, give us time to let go. It provides a space for us to bring our presence of mind and receptive heart together in alignment in a way that can limit thoughts that impose negative energies, opening to a thoughtlessness that allows God or Ultimate Reality to hold a benevolent and positive space with us. It "heals." It facilitates “right relationship,” whether you perceive that as being with God, or with Self, it is the elimination of ego-barriers to positivity. 
True orthodoxy or “right ideas” is akin to the Wisdom (Panna) and Concentration (Samadhi) aspects of the 8-fold path in Buddhism. It is not about correct doctrine or intellectualism, but about correct holistic thinking or non-thinking, using both objective and subjective mindfulness in order to attain “right relationship.”

1 Corinthians 2:10-16
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord

    so as to instruct him?”

But we have the mind of Christ.

What does it mean to "have the mind of Christ?"

May your mind and heart find comfort and serenity in the stillness of your prayers. 
Peace and all goodness to you, Peggy _/\_

Orthodoxy -from Greek orthos ("right", "true", "straight") + doxa ("opinion" or "belief", related to dokein, "to think."

Whittington, BL and Scher SJ. Prayer and Subjective Well-being: An examination of six different types of prayer. International Journal of Psychology and Religion, 20:59-68, 2012.

1 comment:

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