11/25/2010

Prayer changes things-including your mind.

I received some mass e-mail communication from The Colson Center today regarding a new book by Dr. Curt Thompson, a Psychiatrist who is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Thompson has an interesting hypothesis that he says is born out by experimentation: prayer and other spiritual disciplines affect the mind itself.

Here is an excerpt from Dr. Thompson's article over at the Colson Center:


…consider one of the features of the brain that neuroscientists call neuroplasticity. This refers to the capacity for the brain to do three things: (1) produce new neurons; (2) to increase the speed and efficiency of neurons by increasing their length and diameter and (3) increase or decrease the level of connections between neurons, depending on how often they are used—those neuron patterns that are fired more frequently make greater attachments, and those that are used less frequently are pruned away….

Current neuroscience supports the idea that spiritual disciplines line us up to allow God to change us in ways for which we hunger and thirst. As we meditate, pray (especially contemplatively), fast, seek proper solitude, confess, submit, study, and engage in other such disciplines, we create space for change. In this sense, when Paul writes in Romans 12:2 to no longer “be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect,” he’s not kidding. This transformation of which he speaks is not metaphor.

Although Paul was no neuroscientist, he wrote that which neuroscience would now confirm: that the transformation that God began with the resurrection of Jesus is now being extended and grounded in our very brains…
Seems Paul was right in Romans 12-1-2. We can be transformed by the renewing of our minds.


It also bears out the idea that prayer primarily changes us. Prayer is not about changing the situations we find ourselves in as it is about changing our response to those situations.

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