Heart surgery patients can gain hope, confidence, optimism and a sense of control through religious faith and prayer, according to new University of Michigan research.

The researchers studied 224 cardiac patients over 19 months for their prayer coping and religiosity, general health and mental health, cardiac status, social support, depression, and socio-demographic factors.

They concluded there was a strong link between religiosity and a patient’s ability to feel in control of their health situation, and that believers depended on the spiritual support of a higher power in their regular life.

“The day before a major cardiac procedure, an uncontrollable event, is a life-altering moment,” Amy Ai, a researcher of integrative medicine, said.

“The fact that the surgical and medical team would determine the immediate outcomes provides an intriguing window into the positive attitudes such as hope, optimism and perceived control and faith of cardiac patients,” Ai said.

“A core value shared by many religious traditions is surrendering to God which discourages over-assertion of personal control in a bond to the divine,” Ai said.

Journal of Health Psychology.

Dr. Keith and Laurie Nemec Comments:
What is prayer?  It is simply communicating with God.  Communicating is defined as talking and listening.  The problem arises in our prayer life when we talk from world-filled, ego-filled, flesh-filled old minds.  God give me this, God give me that, God make my life easy, God take away all my problems, etc….

The power in true prayer is not talking to God.  He knows what you need before you ask Him.  The power of prayer is in stilling the mind so you can listen to Him speak to your heart.

Most people’s prayer life is 90/10.  This is 90% talking to God giving Him your grocery list of needs and 10% of listening to His response.  If you want to grow and mature spiritually, you need to reverse the ratio to 10/90.  That is, spend 10% of your prayer time talking and 90% in stillness listening to the drops of the Spirit voice falling on the still pond of your heart once you have stilled the raging ocean of thoughts going on in your mind.

This is done by focusing on only Him in quiet meditation and focusing on your breathing instead of letting your mind wonder.  Start with five minutes a day and work your way up.  The sky is the limit.  Most all great saints of the past have started their day with 2-4 hours of silent prayer and meditation in quiet solitude.  They maintained this prayerful state throughout the day by keeping their focus on Him, not on the things of the world.  You can go deeper in your prayer life by learning how to still yourself before God and listen to His voice. This is taught in our Seven Basic Steps to Total Health audio series