August Vestry Devotion - Are There Health Benefits from Going to Church?

Each month, a member of the Good Shepherd Vestry is invited to offer a short meditation or devotion at the beginning of the meeting, and these meditations are then published in the Sheepskin. This meditation comes from Vestry member, Chris Hall.

Chris Hall web.jpg

Recently, I read an article that discussed the fact that some people who attend Church regularly experience less stress in their lives.  This idea was very intriguing to me.  I often find that the hour or so spent at Church allows me to relax in a way that I usually don’t experience for the rest of the week.  I have often wondered if there is more to this sense of calm that I feel and do others also experience this?

After doing a little investigating I found there is a wealth of information about the benefits of going to church.  The benefits can last longer than just an hour on Sunday morning and can extend far beyond the walls of the church.  One article I discovered was from World of Phycology written by Theresa Borchard.  She writes that the last thing that many of us think of when we’re stressed with work or complicated problems at home is go to Church. But new research suggests that prayer and religion rank high among the best stress relievers.

In her article Theresa discusses the work of Dr. Roberta Lee, from the book, The Super Stress Solution, which discusses the benefits of spirituality and prayer.  Dr. Lee states that research indicates that religious people use their spirituality to cope with problems in their life.  She says that these individuals find it easier to cope with stress, they heal faster when sick and they experience increased benefits to their wellbeing.  

Among the research Dr. Lee cites is a study of approximately 126,000 people who regularly attended Church.  It was discovered that this group of people increased their odds of living by 29 percent.  Dr. Lee points out other surprising facts she discovered through her research.   For example people who never attend church and are hospitalized typically take 3 times longer to recover than regular church goers.  Patients with heart issues were fourteen times more likely to die after surgery.  Elderly folks had double the amount of strokes than their religious peers. And also that people who practice religion regularly are less likely to become depressed and if they do, they usually recovery from depression more quickly.

In her article, Theresa summarizes why we benefit from prayer and religion.  First, religion and faith provide social support, a consistent element of happiness and good health. Regular churchgoers not only get support from their community, but they also give support to others, an activity that promotes better health.  Second, religion gives you 10 laws to abide by. And although you may not like having rules, most are glad they exist because if you follow them your life runs more smoothly.  Finally, it gives people hope during difficult times.  And Doctors say hope is the ultimate stress reducer and is about the best thing you can do for your body. 

After reading about the positive side effects that religious activities can promote, it makes me realize that the hour spent at church each week not only nourished the soul spiritually but can help the mind and body become healthier as well.  Taking an active role in the Church and attending regular services is something I have always enjoyed.  And now I have even more reasons to attend church.

Chris Hall
Work Cited:  Borchard, Theresa. “Spirituality and Prayer Relieve Stress.” 2010.  Web 14 August 2017.