New research from Baylor University shows that the nature of our attachment to God and the way we imagine God directly relates to the psychological & health benefits a person tends to get from prayer.
Those who prayed to a loving and supportive God whom they thought would be there to comfort and protect them in times of need were less likely to show symptoms of anxiety-related disorders — symptoms such as irrational worry, fear, self-consciousness, dread in social situations, and obsessive-compulsive behavior — than those who prayed but did not expect God to comfort or protect them. The study is published in the journal, Sociology of Religion.
“While previous research has shown that people who have a secure attachment to God are more satisfied with life and less depressed and lonely, little attention has been paid to psychiatric symptoms,” said researcher Matt Bradshaw, Ph.D.
“For many individuals, God is a major source of comfort and strength that makes the world seem less threatening and dangerous. Through prayer, individuals seek to develop an intimate relationship with God,” Bradshaw said.
“Those who achieve this goal, and believe that God will be there to protect and support them during times of need, develop a secure attachment to God.”
In this context, prayer appears to confer emotional comfort, which results in fewer symptoms of anxiety-related disorders.
“Other people, however, form avoidant or insecure attachments to God — meaning that they do not necessarily believe God will be there when they need Him,” he said.
“For these individuals, prayer may feel like an unsuccessful attempt to cultivate and maintain an intimate relationship with God. Rejected, unanswered, or otherwise unsuccessful experiences of prayer may be disturbing and debilitating — and may therefore lead to more frequent and severe symptoms of anxiety-related disorders.”
For the study, researchers analyzed data from 1,714 of the individuals who participated in the 2010 Baylor Religion Survey. The study focused on general anxiety, social anxiety, obsession, and compulsion…. The Baylor study findings are consistent with a growing body of research indicating that a person’s perceived relationship with God can play an important role in shaping mental health. READ MORE
To better understand this study, I’d recommend checking out this post on the impact of your attachment style on your faith style/spiritual life. It matters more than you might think!
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