Young man seeking forgiveness from his friend.

Forgiveness as an Indicator of Health: Part 2

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This article is one of a series on forgiveness and its’ health benefits.

Florida State University conducted research on prayer and forgiveness. The objective? To test whether praying for a relationship partner would increase someone’s willingness to forgive that partner. Participants who were assigned to pray for their romantic partner reported greater willingness to forgive that partner than those who described their partner to an imagined parent.Young man seeking forgiveness from his friend.

In a second study, participants were assigned to pray for a friend, pray about any topic, or think positive thoughts about a friend every day for 4 weeks. Those who prayed for their friend reported greater forgiveness for their friend than those who thought happy thoughts or just prayed about anything in general. Those who prayed for their friend also showed an increase in selfless concern during the 4 weeks. Together, these studies enhance our understanding of the relationship benefits of praying for others.

The bible talks about selflessness when it says: Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4 NIV

Selflessness is also linked to health in research on youth reporting that kids who involve themselves in (selfless) service are less likely to be involved in a teen pregnancy.

So, there is definitely a link. Prayer for forgiveness of others, an act which is certainly linked to selflessness, has a positive health benefits.

Why not do a self-inventory and consider whether you might be holding a grudge against someone. Then, pray about it!

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.