In his wonderful book, Reinventing Medicine, as well as several others, Larry Dossey discusses the incredible power of prayer as measured by double-blind, controlled studies. It’s amazing how these groups of people in a hospital benefit—even without knowing they’re being prayed for they would score significantly higher than the control groups. Fewer surgeries, less recovery time and medication required, higher ratings on emotional scales, etc., etc., etc. In fact, Dr. Andrew Newberg, MD, and some of his fellow neurosurgeons found that prayer and belief in God was the most healing thing in the world for the human brain and nervous system, with exercise a distant second. And these were not Christians looking to promote Christianity. These are scientists looking for an accurate answer to a scientific question.
In my own experience, the best prayer is honest, sincere prayer from your heart, about whatever is most on your mind at that moment. I’ve actually used heart-rate variability test to compare the effect of ritual prayer on stress to that of prayer that is spontaneous and from-the-heart, and the spontaneous prayers have always scored better. In fact, one of the most effective things I’ve ever done with my clients came from that very method.
Many of my clients struggled with negative thoughts and emotions that they just couldn’t get rid of, which hit close to home with me since my wife, Hope, struggled mightily with that during her twelve years of depression. In fact, she would often read the bestselling self-help books of the time and feel like throwing the book across the room (I think once or twice she may actually have done it). See, in a lot of these books, their advice would basically boil down to something like thinking positive thoughts instead of negative thoughts. She would say, “Do they think I’m an idiot? Do they really think I haven’t tried to do that? I can’t do that! That’s the problem!” Which is also what I’ve heard almost universally from clients with similar problems. So not only do these surface-level strategies not really help these people, but they often make them feel like the problem is their fault, since thinking positive thoughts is implied to be something that ought to be easy for anyone to do. Sorry, but that’s not at all how it works.
My alternative started as an experiment and became a passion as I saw it work in people. I told my clients, whatever negative thoughts you’re having, never let them go by unchallenged again. Instead, turn them into a prayer. You don’t have to change what you’re thinking, just take those exact words and use them as a prayer, even if internally you’re just yelling curse words at the top of your lungs. It’s not as if you can shock God.
Typically, this will drive you crazy for the first week, because you’ll have to do it almost constantly. But eventually you get the hang of it. You get into a rhythm. Then, usually at about the 40-day mark, there’s a shift. It’s almost like your unconscious mind takes the hint and just gives up on sending negative signals. What you were powerless to change before now changes automatically, without even hardly having to think about it. You have a new default.
I can’t count the number of people who have told me this was like a miracle in their lives. I believe there is something inherent to our mind and spirit that thrives with prayer, which makes all the more sense to me since I do believe there is a God. But I would encourage you in the strongest possible terms to try this even if you don’t share that belief. What do you have to lose?
There are some things in life that seem like a big deal, but aren’t, and there are others that seem small but are actually a big deal. This is probably the greatest example of the latter that I’ve ever encountered. I’ve told everyone for years that I would recommend prayer even over Trilogy, the Healing Codes, Memory Engineering, and all the rest of it. Prayer isn’t just my number 1 choice, it’s number 1 through 10. If you don’t already, take some daily time to pray from the heart. Try it and see.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!