13. Health Benefits of Prayer
Source: Annals of Behavioral Medicine – Seniors or older people with strong personal religious beliefs do not experience significantly elevated blood pressure when faced with stressful events. Prayer fosters compassion and a loving attitude which reduces a harmful stress response in the brain.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) – Romans 9:14-16 stated, “14 Are we saying, then, that God was unfair? Of course not! 15 For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” 16 So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau, not because of their character or their actions, but simply because that was His choice. “Was God being unfair?” we might ask. “Surely those Jews who are working so hard to follow all of God’s laws should be chosen. Isn’t it rather arbitrary of God to just choose some and reject others?”
Paul’s wording of the question in Greek expects a negative answer, which he emphatically supplies: Of course not! If God gave anyone exactly what they deserved the results would be disastrous! Both Isaac and Jacob were scoundrels. God demonstrated unexpected grace when He chose these men in spite of their weaknesses and failures. God is absolutely sovereign. He had explained to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose” (see Exodus 33:19). We might still be tempted to say, “Doesn’t that seem a bit unfair?” But by asking such a question we are claiming a higher understanding of fairness than God Himself.
We must remember that God has no obligation to show mercy or compassion to any of us – not one of us deserves His slightest concern. For God to even choose anyone is evidence of His great mercy. These Words of God reveal that He does show mercy and compassion, but they are by His sovereign choice.
We tend to read God’s statement to Moses (which was a response to Moses’ request to see God’s glory) as if it were an expression of God’s withholding mercy rather than a statement of His merciful generosity. In the context of this statement in Exodus, God was not justifying Himself, but saying in effect, “I will have mercy on people you would not expect, and I will have compassion in ways that will surprise you, especially when I am compassionate with you!” No one can know the heart of a person in the way that God knows. No individual, court of law, or group can perfectly assess the righteousness of a person. So we must leave the choosing and judging to God.
THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer