Prayer affects our brains in much the same way that meditation does in that can calm us, relieve stress, reduce anxiety, etc. But why? Well, the answer lies in human nature’s preoccupation with a higher power. As Christians, we know that God exists and we are made in His image. But what does science have to say about it?
Science backs it up. As far back as anthropologists can go in human history, there has always been the presence of religion. In other words, there has literally never been a generation, culture, or tribe of all atheists. Sit on that thought for a moment. Google it if you are so inclined. A time period on this planet in which there was no religion among the humans that inhabited it does not exist.
The University of Oxford conducted a three-year study across 20 countries and concluded that humans are predisposed to believe in deity. A rather peculiar discovery came out of the study as well. Children before the age of three believed that both their mothers and God were all-knowing. However, as the children began to develop their reasoning skills, they understood their mothers were not all-knowing. Yet the same cognitive process is not applied to their belief in God.
Fascinating! It seems natural to conclude that since our brains are wired for belief that there must be a “god spot” dedicated some where within the faculty. After all, there are areas that deal specifically with emotions, motor actions such as eating, logic & calculations, creativity, etc. Yet, modern science has never found a designated spot. But rather, as neurotheologists (yeah there is profession for this) study people praying, it’s as if their experience with God reforms every part of their brain. As with meditation, prayer physiologically changes the brain.
Discipline of Prayer Series
Interested in reading more about prayer? Be sure to check out the other posts in the series:
- Spiritual Discipline: Prayer
- Prayer: Lens of Tradition
- Prayer: Lens of Tradition II
- Prayer: Lens of Reason
- Prayer: Lens of Experience