If you pray, you may be opening yourself up to some unknown benefits.

A study by Baylor University recently discovered that a person's prayers may or may not be answered depending upon his or her relationship with the divine. People who view God as a loving father figure are more likely to see events in their lives as “answers” to prayers.

Fortunately, prayer is far from an uncommon thing in the United States. According to Belief Net, 68.1 percent of Christians and 91.6 percent of Muslims pray at least once a day, if not more.

But there’s more than just answers that come out of prayer. There are physical, mental and social benefits that arise upon uttering words to God.

Here’s a list of eight things that you can gain from prayer:

Faster spiritual growth

A writer at Activated, a monthly faith-based magazine, highlighted a couple different ways praying can help you. The biggest one, explained the article, was that praying can grow your spirit and relationship with God.

“You will be made stronger in spirit,” the article reads. “Time spent in quiet reflection and listening builds inner strength that will get you through life’s toughest times.”

Better moods

Researcher Michael E. McCullough of Southern Methodist University found prayer creates better moods for people. McCullough’s research found that prayer can calm your mood and put you “in a state of peace,” which will lead to some of the physical benefits mentioned below.

Improved physical health

McCullough’s research also found praying could help with neurological and cardiovascular health in believers. Due to better emotions and moods, the brain will then promote healthy changes in how the brain makes physical changes. So while praying, the brain will communicate with the rest of the body and create better cardiovascular and neurological living. Because prayers calm people down, stress is reduced — taking less of a toll on someone's heart and other organs, which stress has been known to do.

More self-control

Other research found people have better emotions and moods because of prayer, especially when it comes to psychiatric health, Deseret News National reported in 2013. One study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology found that prayer impacts self-control and ultimately will hold people back from doing things they wouldn't normally do.

Stronger personal beliefs

Prayer can help you understand how you feel about God and your faith. Research by Baylor University found that depending on your relationship with God and how you pray to him, you may get a response back in some shape or form. Having a secure relationship with God, for example, leads you to see more of God's messages in everyday life, the research said.

Inspiration in hardship

Some people choose to pray more when hit by tragedy. A study by the University of Rochester found that 85 percent of people who have a major illness will pray. More so, 82 percent of Americans believe that prayer can heal them of the illness. Whether it does is another question, but believers are putting a lot of faith in their prayers to inspire them to get better.

Better interpersonal relationships

Florida State University conducted five studies to understand how prayer can affect personal relationships. Praying for close friends, or even loved ones, in a positive manner can actually improve the relationships you have with those people, the Christian Post reported. Those who pray for their friend or loved one would be less likely to seek revenge and would be better with reconciliation, the study said.

"Study 3 showed that, compared to partners of targets in the positive partner thought condition, the romantic partners of targets assigned to pray reported a positive change in their partner's forgiveness," the study said, according to Christian Post.

Increased creativity

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Psychologist Mahlet Endale explained to Emory University that prayer has a lot of positive mental benefits, one of which is increased creativity. Prayer will help you build relationships with your family, friends and local church community, which will then lead you to get involved in the more creative project, Endale told Emory.

“Religious practices also foster creative skill building (e.g., music, dance, singing, art), and attending religious services sets a recognizable break away from work, family issues and self-fulfilling issues,” the article read.

Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com

Twitter: @herbscribner

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