The Most Effective Prayer

A lot has been said about the effects of prayers. Some really comprehensive studies were done by experts in this regard. But there are very few studies on the comparative effectiveness of different types of prayers. It seems that the experts were more interested in the effects of prayer rather than the type or method of prayer used by prayer practitioners. In fact, it is not an easy thing to study the methods, types or techniques of prayer. Prayer is a mental activity mostly practiced silently with eyes closed. It is quite difficult to control the thoughts, imaginations and silent verbal communication with heavenly powers that a prayer practitioner uses during prayer or meditation. Some religious groups use intercessory prayers which they read from an already prepared text. Visualizations more than verbal requests are used by some worshipers. What is the prayer type depends upon the belief, religious background and personal choice of prayer practitioner.

When a person offers prayer, he/she speaks to heavenly deities asking resolution of the problems or difficulties. The problem may be a terminal disorder, financial problem, upcoming examination or broken relationship. If a prayer is offered describing the specifics of the problem such as diabetes, shrunk arteries, joblessness, estranged relationship it is considered as a goal-directed prayer. But if the prayer is restricted to the concerned person as a whole without any mention of the details of his/her problem, the prayer is called a non goal-directed prayer. The non goal – directed prayer visualizes or imagines the person or situation as happy, joyful and successful.

There was a research study by Bruce and John of Spindrift Foundation to compare the effectiveness of goal-directed and non goal-directed prayer. As has been mentioned before, goal – directed prayer focuses its attention on specific outcomes such as a particular disease or problem of a particular individual. The person practicing the prayer emphasizes his will and ego on order to get the results. The non-goal directed prayer, on the other hand, does not stress the specifics of the concerned person’s problems. It is a sort of prayer based upon the model: ‘Thy will be done’. The underlying philosophy in this type of prayer is that the heavenly powers are aware of the problems. The Universal Intelligence knows how to resolve the challenges faced by a person for whom the prayer is being offered. In this prayer there is no mention of the problem, disease, challenges or damaged relationships.

The most interesting fact that came out of this study was that non goal directed prayer proved several times more effective than the goal directed prayer. The goal-directed prayer, on the other hand, was not only less effective, it was, in some cases, more damaging and harmful to the person or to the overall situation rather than bringing joy, happiness or success.

Does this mean that we should not pray to the heavens to heal the cancer, diabetes or heart problem of a particular person? Should we not ask God or divine powers to resolve the financial problems or joblessness faced by a person? Should we rather pray for the person that the will of God is fulfilled in him? If God or deities already know a person’s needs, then there shouldn’t be any need of prayer at all. These are the questions that come to mind and need further inquiry into this aspect of prayer.

Prayer is a very sensitive issue. It is the central and essential part of any religion. The people who follow religion and believe in the power of heavens are very sensitive to any issues of prayer. All religions and denominations have their own methods and procedures of prayer. The belief, faith, feelings, concentration and visual imagination are the most essential ingredients or components of prayer. People who pray regularly need to study what type of prayer brings results. It is not only standardized controlled studies that make an impact into the field of scientific knowledge. Even a single case study or a personal experience matters a lot provided there is enough truth in it. We live in an age of very advanced technology. The social media has brought everybody on this planet very close to each other. We need to observe and record our personal experiences on the type of prayer we follow in our daily life and share them with public through social media. This sort of information will be of value for the experts who are interested in investigations in this area.

By Mumtaz Shah