A Prayer a Day Keeps Anger Away…?

Written by Dr. Carosso
I was perusing a recent Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and came across a research article that caught my attention. I think it will catch your attention too.

The research:
In the article, researchers found that when people were provoked by somebody, they were less angry and much quicker to calm when they spent a few minutes praying to God, compared to those who used other coping methods (thinking about a person or other distraction methods).

Not even close
In comparing the results for the two groups (praying vs non-praying), it wasn’t even close. Those who briefly prayed were much calmer and felt better about the situation than those who did not. Similar outcomes were seen in four separate trials and, in every instance, the results were significant when compared to those who did not pray. It didn’t matter if the person rated themselves as devout or not; they calmed quicker just the same. Most identified themselves as Christian, but not all.

Not too surprising

I imagine God isn’t too surprised by these results; He’s been telling us for quite some time to pray when we’re troubled or distressed (James 5:13). We shouldn’t be surprised either.  However, it’s always nice when the “scientific” supports the spiritual.  However, one of the researchers explained the outcome in a manner discounting the spiritual; but we know better;)  

Practice makes perfect
Many of you have particular prayer-times for your kids (before bedtime, before sending your kids off to school, saying Grace before dinner…), which I trust you’ve found to be meaningful and helpful. How about also incorporating prayer into your daily arsenal to combat arguments and conflict?   You may want to practice with your child to use prayer to calm, feel more in control, and tap-into a source of comfort and guidance.

Pray for your “enemies”?
The research was also compelling in that the prayer was directed toward helping another person. It’s especially useful to teach our kids (and remind ourselves) to move away from self-absorbed anger and focus on helping those in need, including the person doing the provoking. Okay, I know, kids may not be too enthusiastic about that last part, but it’ll grow on them.

The Enhancer
Of course, a brief prayer doesn’t replace conflict-resolution, it enhances it. It’s easier for your child, after a prayer and feeling a bit calmer, to talk about a peer bothering him at school and figure out a game-plan.   

Give it a go
Try it and let me know how it works for you and your kids. I’ve done this with my kids and have seen, first hand, how this can be helpful.

That reminds me
By the way, this article reminded me of a post I wrote last year. I reprinted it below (Spirituality: Father knows Best).  Feel free to check it out; I hope you find it worthwhile.

Spirituality: Father Knows Best
Written by Dr. John Carosso

Wouldn’t it be nice to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, especially when it comes to caring for your kids? Well, you’ll never be any of those things, but you can introduce your child to someone who is. Imagine how comforting and reassuring for your child to know, during times of good and bad, that he or she is being watched-over, protected, helped, comforted, and that he is part of a larger, heavenly clan of his Father, brothers, and sisters. I have seen time and time again: children with a spiritual sense tend to have a stronger conscience, are easier to comfort, and have a better understanding and sense of purpose and meaning in their life. Parent can pull from the Bible to teach and help their child to understand about morality, compassion, love, the destructiveness of sin, and how stay on the ‘straight and narrow’. I can say, first-hand, that having a personal relationship with my Heavenly Father is rewarding beyond words, and I relish sharing Him with my kids and watching them grow in their spiritual relationship. I strongly suggest that you take advantage of developing, within your child (and why not within yourself too?) a strong spiritual life, based in a loving relationship with God. Otherwise, you lose access to an invaluable anchor and rudder that can be the utmost guiding force for good and joy. God bless. Feel free to comment and forward to a friend.

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Dr. John Carosso

Dr. Carosso has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist working in private, inpatient, outpatient, residential, school, and home settings. He is Clinical Director of Community Psychiatric Centers (cpcwecare.com), a licensed Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, and operates both the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com) and the Dyslexia Diagnostic and Treatment Center (dyslexiatreaters.com).