Here’s an article that I found on the Family Studies blog.
It says: (links to studies removed)
A lot of research has been devoted to the question of whether religion is a force for good among today’s families, and while the findings are mixed, studies have found plenty of reason to believe that faith can be a powerful adhesive for families working hard not to come undone. Regular religious service attendance is tied to lower divorce rates, for example, and religious institutions can be powerful intermediaries in helping families in crisis and promoting chastity and fidelity, which in turn affect social ills like out-of-wedlock childbearing and divorce.
[…]That individual prayer can improve the lives of those who undertake it is a well-documented fact supported by even the secular, medical world. Its benefits can include reduced stress, increased self-awareness, better communication, and a more empathetic and forgiving attitude towards others.
It’s hardly a stretch to suggest those benefits would expand to families that then pray together. For starters, family prayer time is quality time together, time not spent in front of the television or a smartphone, but rather, time spent communicating on a deeply personal level. One study found that children with parents who pray more than once daily report better relationships with their parents, even if that prayer is not done with their children, implying that there is something contagious about the positive effects of prayer in family life. Another study found a positive correlation between increased trust and prayer time between couples.
Other sociologists have argued that joint prayer can be a powerful mediation tool that leads couples to be more forgiving. As Mark Butler, a professor of marriage and family therapy at Brigham Young University, put it: “When people pray (about tensions in their relationship) they are helped to see their part in the problem. They’re helped to see what they can do themselves to make a difference. And they are helped to soften. All these things help with conflict resolution.”
The nice thing about prayer and church attendance is that it is an opportunity for people to tune the world out and think about the big things. It’s a time to think about other people, for one thing. It’s also a good time to be humble and acknowledge the things that are out of your control.
Right now, a few of my friends have been telling me about some of the problems they are facing as a result of the declining economy. We had only 0.5% GDP growth last quarter – awfully close to a recession. I have friends who have lost work hours, friends who have lose their health care, friends who are facing liberal professors in graduate school, friends who either cannot find work or whose spouses cannot find work. And lots of friends who have projects and exams. That’s a lot of people to think about and care about. I frequently talk to God about the problems that other people are facing and try to urge him to give them some help.
In case you are wondering how to pray to God, there is a good article about it on the Cold Case Christianity blog.
Here’s the practical part:
If you are a follower of Christ, you can have confidence that God will always say “yes” to the following requests:
Requests for Wisdom
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
Requests for Forgiveness
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Requests for Salvation
“…for ‘whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” (Romans 10:13)
While God says “yes” to these kinds of requests, He often says “no” or “not yet” to other kinds of requests.
The most frequent thing I ask for is wisdom. Wisdom for me, wisdom for my friends. I like praying for wisdom for myself and others because it’s a sure thing, and I hate doing something that comes back to bite me later. I ask for God to help me to understand and accept the moral law, so that I make decisions that don’t come back to hurt me later.
The other thing I pray for a lot is forgiveness. This is a big no-no for atheists, because they don’t like to feel ashamed or obligated or “bad” because they are immature. But the truth is that God is knocking on the door of our hearts, each one of us, and we are not responding as much as we should. I often think of how much good I could do if I were not so selfish. I often choose to to do things that are fun instead of taking time to read the Bible or doing other things to learn more about who God is. And I don’t think that I am doing as much to defend God’s interests as I could be doing. I have regrets about this, and I when I pray, I tell God about how I feel about not being as faithful to him as I wish I could be.
The most frequent way that I am thankful is by thanking God for the people who do things that are consistent with a Christian worldview. I like that Steven Crowder spoke to liberal students at the University of Massachusetts. I like that conservative Republicans introduce pro-life and pro-religious-liberty laws. I like that my friends in Ratio Christi do a good job at organizing apologetics events on university campuses. I try to pay attention to all this good news and I run down the list to God when I pray, reminding him to be looking out for those who are committed to sticking by him against the selfish secular leftists.