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Dale and Tori Saunders struggled for years to get pregnant before the birth of their son, Gunnar (19 months). They credit their faith for helping them through an emotional time that tested their strength and marriage.


“Throughout my struggles to get pregnant, I never


stopped praying to receive a child in God’s time and in [God’s] way,” Saunders said. “When I found out I was pregnant, the struggles made me appre ciate what a blessing I truly have been given with my son. But the years of struggling to get pregnant caused a slow breakdown of communication and affection between myself and my husband.” The couple found a Christian counselor to help


them work on their marriage, Saunders said, and they started a daily devotional so “God was part of our individual healing, as well as healing our marriage.” She credits her faith and the power of prayer for helping them strengthen their marriage and find themselves in a good place with a healthy toddler. “It surprised both of us that by asking God


to take the lead in healing our marriage and rebuilding trust how quickly strides were made in both areas,” Saunders said. “Without prayer and faith in God being there and directing our steps, we would be a long way from where we are now.”


Power of prayer Saunders isn’t alone in exalting the practice of prayer, as the Pew Research Center reports that


55 percent of Americans pray every day. Prayer is so prevalent in the U.S. that the government has recognized a national day of prayer since 1952. Taylor said prayer and other practices that


accompany living a religious life can have positive benefits for one’s mental health. This is good news for people who already incorporate prayer into their everyday life. “There are many spiritual practices, such as


prayer, meditation and mindfulness, that nurture our ability to better redirect our energy outside of ourselves,” Taylor said. “When any of us become depressed or anxious, we tend to withdraw and become preoccupied with ourselves and default to survival mode. Directing our preoccupied energy outward interrupts depression’s downward spiral and anxiety’s escalation.” Kevin Massey, vice president for mission and


spiritual care at Advocate Health Care, Chicago, has witnessed the power prayer has for hospitalized patients. “People request prayer perhaps more than any other single thing,” he said. “It’s a verbal presence of God that helps them cope with their situation. People feel God’s presence closer when they’ve had the ability to hear and experience prayer.”


SPIRITUAL PRACTICES & RESOURCES • LIVINGLUTHERAN.ORG 15


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