Do you believe in the power of prayer? I do. Even as an atheist, Fridge loving heathen I do. But maybe I should explain a little more.
Back in my believing days I had what I termed as a prayer in my heart. Pretty much all the time. I originally started the practice while on my LDS mission in Guatemala. Admittedly this was a teaching I’d ran across in my efforts to be more spiritual and open to guidance by the Holy Ghost. It was a pretty simple admonition from Boyd K Packer. One I’m sure stood out because I’d probably heard it taught to me in FHE more than once.
“Young people, carry a prayer in your heart always. Let sleep come every night with your mind centered in prayer.”
The way I used it was like this. I would identify the ability I wanted to obtain and then silently pray for it. Almost continuously. When ever my mind wasn’t engaged in the actions of the day it would swing back to this prayer. Sometimes, I would focus on it for hours at a stretch. Like when tracting on my mission, I’d have a running dialog saying ‘please help me chose the right street or door to knock on.’
Later in life it would center around being a good father or figuring out something particularly stressful at work. I even used it for getting a raise and it worked! In hindsight I think my success rate might have had something to do with a trick called confirmation bias. But I believed then that the practice most definitely worked.
If you are aware of the beginnings of the Fridge, you know that a test of prayer was the primary way I used to determine if the Fridge was as effective a deity as any other. I wasn’t just joking about that. I really put it to the test. And it was every bit as effective, in my experience prayer still worked. Even when directed at an appliance in a way meant to mock the creator of the universe.
Let me say that again, prayer still worked. I’m not claiming that prayer is entirely ineffective. I never have. Sure I don’t think it can heal an amputee, or cure cancer. But maybe it can help you obtain certain goals. Particularly goals of self development. Maybe you would term that a placebo effect. But is the placebo effect actually effective? It has been shown to work. So right off the bat, if prayer is just a placebo that means it actually does work right? At least at the level of a placebo! For a fun look at this effect, here’s a video to watch in your free time:
But there is more. The human brain is a very interesting piece of wetware. It’s built mostly out of a component known as a neuron. Albeit the way this neural network functions as a whole is still poorly understood. We do know a thing or two about a neuron.
1. It can be ‘trained’
2. Without constant use or ‘training’ it tends to return to a default state
3. To train it, use it repeatedly
This ability for the brain to reconfigure is known as neuroplasticity. If you have ever learned to play an instrument, or a sport because you practiced at it a lot. You have experienced training your neurons! While this outward result is fairly obvious, what may be less so is the fact this works for your internal thought processes just as well. If you repeat the same thought process over and over, you train your neurons to think that way. Muscle memory is part of the same wetware that also controls your entire outlook on life. If you can train it to hit a ball, you can train it to think positively.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”
– proverbs 23:7
That brings us to prayer, specifically a prayer in your heart so to speak. You see for me carrying a prayer in your heart could be summarized as repeatedly thinking about what you were trying to obtain or accomplish. Repeatedly being the keyword. I think one reason that religions have been useful enough to stick around for millennial is because they codify things that work. Repeatedly practicing a piano will make you a better piano player. Repeatedly praying to help others will focus your very human trait of confirmation bias on other peoples needs. Even though the idea that there is a magical being up in the sky granting your wishes has zero proof of reality. There is real evidence supporting the idea of affecting your neuroplasticity by training and repetition.
The sermon of the day to post on your Fridge is this: Is there something you want to accomplish in life? Keep a prayer in your heart, focus on the results you want, it can’t hurt and it might just help. Even if it only helps you focus your efforts and works as well as a placebo. That’s still a step up from no help at all. And if you don’t believe me…
Pray to the Fridge till you do! 🙂
May the ice be with you,