Does Praying for Others Really Help?

Pray for OthersTherefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. James 5:16

Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t ask me for prayer. It could be a relative facing surgery, a friend with a bad diagnosis, or an acquaintance asking for prayer for another.

In this age of social media, we see Facebook posts almost every day with people asking for and in need of prayer. Reading the comments on the post we see, “I’ll keep you in my prayers,” “My thoughts and prayers are with you,” and other comments from relatives, friends, and even casual acquaintances.

It causes some people to wonder if these responses are just cliché. Some people would argue that they are just platitudes and less than sincere. But are they? Do they have any effect on the outcomes? The answer is yes!

What do these prayers mean? Research suggests that they mean more than you might imagine. A University of Toronto study indicates that people who receive these prayers are more optimistic about their situations and that prayers promote hope, especially if they are from someone close to them.

Studies indicate that the prayers have benefit even if the recipients aren’t religious themselves. Prayer works for everyone!

According to the 2006 Portraits of American Life study, two out of three Americans report having someone praying on their behalf. These recipients seem to be more optimistic about their future especially when they know that non-family members are praying for them.

What makes prayer unique is the appeal to a higher power, to God, to intervene. 75% of Americans believe that God has an interest in our health and well-being according to a Baylor University survey. Even the unbeliever doesn’t mind the support. It can’t hurt, right!

Prayer does some other things as well. In addition to giving hope and optimism to the recipient, it fosters a sense of gratitude, helps us to forgive others, broadens our perspective, and gives a sense of security and comfort.

Don’t be afraid to let people know that you are praying for them. Tell them. It might seem trite and cliché in this “politically correct” time that we live in, but do it anyway.

Years ago, an atheist friend of mine was facing major life-saving surgery. The night before, as we talked on the telephone, I told him that I would pray for him during his surgery. The fact that he didn’t believe in God didn’t stop me. His quiet response that night was, “thank you.”

“No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.” — Charles Spurgeon

The surgery was successful.

The following day, after he had returned to his hospital room following his time in recovery, he called me to tell me that things went well. It was a short upbeat conversation. As we finished our call, there was a pause in our conversation.

As my friend fought back tears, he said, “Thank you for your prayers. It meant a lot to me.”

“You’re welcome,” I returned. “And, if I am ever in need, I hope I can count on your prayers, too.”

His tears were accented with a chuckle as he responded, “You sure can!”

Asking an atheist to pray for me? It can’t hurt, right!

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