There is almost always something interesting in the world of research and this weekend is no exception. One article caught my eye because it details a secular research project about prayer and self control.[i]
It describes a research project in Germany with 79 participants who were made up of 41 who identified themselves as Christian, 14 atheists, 10 agnostics and 14 who came from other religions.
The test subjects were asked to either pray or think about anything intently and then were asked to watch some comedy video clips. One half of the group was asked to repress their emotional response to the clip and the other was encouraged to laugh. Then both were tested for the ability to carry out a task that required some self control. They were asked to look at words such as blue that were written in red ink and then identify the color of the ink not the word.
The goal was to not answer too quickly as a result of reading the word instead of identifying the color of the ink. The
study found 2 things that are interesting. The people who tried to suppress the laughter/emotions seemed to struggle later doing the name that color test. They also found that the people who prayed instead of intently thinking about
whatever they wished did better with regard to self control. Those who prayed could resist the temptation to jump to the wrong conclusion about the color of the ink.
The idea of praying that we might resist temptation is not particularly original. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ said
just that to the remaining eleven disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. “And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” (Luke 22:40 KJV)
Two things just jump out at me. One is that Jesus did not tell his disciples to get their acts together so that they could
resist the temptation that was coming. He told them to “pray that they would not enter it.” Unfortunately instead of praying intently about the coming test, they fell asleep. Jesus told them to ask for help because they would certainly need it.
Second, our Lord did not then and does not now intend for us to face temptation alone in our own strength. And, so Paul tell us “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1Cor 10:13 NASB)
The results are interesting because they match what we would expect if we read what Jesus said and then did it. I always encourage readers to keep in mind that this is not a case of research proving the Bible to be correct. It is correct, inerrant, inspired, infallible and sufficient! Instead the research outcome merely illustrates what you expect to
happen when someone follows what the Bible says.
So, prayer is important. In prayer we can ask God for help in temptation in the name of Jesus. We can expect that God will enable us to pass through it and endure. We should all start our own research projects today! [i] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2515637/Does-prayer-help-resist-temptation-Talking-God-boosts-self-control-emotional-stability-claims-study.html
Does prayer help us resist temptation? Talking to God
boosts self-control and emotional stability, claims study. Mail Online, By Robin Yapp PUBLISHED:
10:56 EST, 29 November 2013 | UPDATED:
10:58 EST, 29 November 2013