Ever wish you could control your anger better? Not get all worked up when someone insults you or promises to do something, but doesn't deliver, leaving you in the lurch? The answer may be prayer. New research shows saying a prayer may help you deal with negative emotions instead of continuing to fume.
"We found that prayer can really help people cope with their anger, probably by helping them change how they view the events that angered them and helping them take it less personally," says Brad Bushman of Ohio State University.
In three separate studies, researchers measured participants' levels of anger, fatigue, depression, vigor and tension. They provoked them with a series of insults from strangers and remeasured. Each study used a different method to get the participants mad. Then, some were asked to pray for another person for five minutes (in one instance a cancer patient, in another the insulter). Others were asked to simply think about another person. Afterwards, those who prayed showed less anger and aggression.
The power of prayer worked regardless of religious affiliation, how religious a person was, how often he or she attended church or prayed in daily life.
"The effects we found in these experiments were quite large, which suggests that prayer may really be an effective way to calm anger and aggression," says Bush. He points out the results are obviously for benevolent prayers... vengeful prayers may have the opposite effect, adding fuel to the fire.
Prayer had no effect on the other emotions.
The research was conducted by Brad Bushman of Ohio State University, Ryan Bremner of the University of Michigan and Sander Koole of VU University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.