Online prayer improves mental health

By Ann Griswold • Published: April 19th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The Internet is often perceived as a cauldron of evil, brimming with scandalous content and devious scams. But for cancer patients and others suffering from terminal illness, the Web can be a source of hope.

Internet prayer groups have become increasingly popular in recent years, uniting strangers from around the world. The groups typically consist of a moderator, who supervises the discussion, and any number of participants… usually patients, survivors, family, friends and caregivers. The group members pray for each other and provide support through shared stories and words of wisdom.

A recent study by University of Wisconsin psychologists finds that participation in online support groups can drastically improve the mental health of cancer patients.

Why does online prayer help? The psychologists say belief in an afterlife may reduce fear of death and help patients cultivate a positive outlook on life. As a result, patients who place their fate in the hands of a higher power are less stressed about their illness and tend to experience a higher quality of life.

While many groups focus on a specific illness, others exist simply for the sake of prayer. God has even infiltrated MySpace, the social networking site popular with teens and young adults. MySpace junkies can choose to join any of fifty groups that specialize in online prayer.

To find an Internet prayer group, simply go to a search engine homepage and type in the word “pray,” followed by keywords related to your topic of interest.