Now before I get into the benefits of prayer for mental health it’s important that I make clear that I am in no way religious, so when I am talking about prayer I am not necessarily referring to the religious practice of praying to God. If I need to put a label on my beliefs then I guess I am a secular humanist. However I am spiritual too. I believe in the power of the universe and the beauty in nature, life itself is an amazing miracle.
***Disclosure – This post is sponsored***
While prayer may be something that most people associate with religion, you can pray no matter what your beliefs are. If you are religious then prayer may come naturally to you and if you are not religious it may take a little while to find a way of connecting to your spirituality. You may find yoga or meditation helpful, or being out in nature.
I’m no stranger to mental health difficulties and the last year since the start of the pandemic has been incredibly trying for me. I am an addict and an alcoholic, now 12+ years in recovery. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008. I’m pretty sure that I can now add anxiety disorder to my list of labels thanks to this pandemic and all the stress we have been under.
Part of the recovery program that I work (which is now a mish mash of all sorts of things but very much based on the 12 Step program) is to pray. In the last year I have probably said the Serenity Prayer (which is the prayer said in the 12 step meetings and in many rehabs) more times than in the rest of my time in recovery put together.
It has become so second nature that I say it in my head without thinking about it and as I stabilize in whatever wobble I was having I realize I have been saying it. I am so grateful for the power of prayer, it is an amazing mental health tool.
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
That is not the entire prayer but that is the part that we say in 12 step meetings and that is what I repeat to myself like a mantra when things get tough.
Asking for Help Through Prayer
While I’m sure that many people pray for something specific like winning the lottery or having their true love finally notice them, I find that when I pray I ask for the virtues that I need to overcome what I am facing.
A great example is looking at the Serenity Prayer, when saying that prayer I’m looking for serenity, courage and wisdom. One thing I often pray for is patience, I’ve come to clearly see that it is not easy being a mom during a pandemic.
When I pray I am basically asking for help to be a better person. I believe that through prayer I am being mindful, of my shortcomings and the things that I need to work on. Through mindfulness and the positive reinforcement of prayer I am often able to achieve these things.
Another big aspect of prayer for me personally is being grateful and mindful of the good things in my life. Prayer is not only asking for things, it is about saying thank you for the things that you have received.
When I am in the moment and grateful for what I have I am a happier person and I am better able to cope.
The Benefits Of Prayer For Mental Health
There have been many studies into faith, spirituality and the power of prayer. Through these studies and my own personal experiences it is clear that there are amazing benefits of prayer for mental health.
Praying regularly will give you a better sense of purpose, give social support, lift your spirits and assist you with coping in difficult times.
You can read about this study which shows that people with low spirituality are more likely to relapse and this study which shows that people who pray are less likely to experience anxiety-related disorders.
Woman With Armor Prayer Journal Workshop
For someone that is not used to prayer it can be daunting to get started, and for others they may be looking for a way to get together with others and do something more guided.