More Than a Platitude, Praying for Others Promotes Hope, Optimism

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My prayers are with you.

From Pope Francis attempting to console the survivors of the Oklahoma tornadoes to neighbors trying to comfort a friend with cancer, it is a familiar sentiment uttered whenever misfortune strikes.

But what do those prayers mean? More than you might imagine, it turns out, particularly when the pledge comes from someone near to the person suffering, new research suggests.

One national study found that people who were prayed for by someone close to them were the most optimistic about their future — even though individuals receiving prayer were more likely to be facing adversity such as mental or physical health issues or unemployment.

Separate studies have found praying for others to be associated with outcomes from better romantic relationships among young adults to helping older adults cope with living in run-down neighborhoods.

This is still early research in a field that has devoted much greater attention to the less quantifiable question of whether intercessory prayer can physically heal illness. But it indicates people who are sincerely motivated to pray for others may want to consider making their intentions known.

Read the rest at Huffington Post

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