Wired for God

Saturday, March 18, 2023

This people have I formed for myself; they shall declare my praise. Isaiah 43:21.

In 1975 a Harvard physician named Herbert Benson wrote a best-seller titled The Relaxation Response. He had developed a simple technique to help people reduce stress. He taught them to relax by focusing on some positive mental image. For many people the results were remarkable. They had reduced heart rates, respiration, and stress-related hormones. Dr. Benson was even able to help people who had difficulty sleeping.

Then Dr. Benson began to notice something especially interesting. A certain subgroup of patients benefited from the “relaxation response” more than others. They had even better health, even more rapid recoveries. They were religious people, people who said they felt a sense of closeness to God as they fixed their minds on His goodness. People who meditated about the awesome love and power of God were healthier than those who did not.

Dr. Benson began to study exactly what was happening to these people when they experienced this closeness to God. Scientists took a new look at the brain’s wiring. They observed how different parts of the brain react when stimulated. They pinpointed the headquarters of religious experience in the brain, a small almond-shaped structure called the amygdala.

Neuroscientist Rhwan Joseph concluded, "The ability to have religious experiences has a neuroanatomical basis.” In other words, we have religion in our heads.

Dr. Benson puts it even more strongly. In his book Timeless Healing he writes, "Our genetic blueprint has made believing in an Infinite Absolute part of our nature.” The doctor goes on to say, AWe are wired for God.” The Bible agrees. The prophet Isaiah exclaims, "This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise” (Isaiah 43:21).

As our muscles are programmed to exercise, and our hearts designed to function efficiently on a low-fat diet, so our brains are wired to praise God. Our brains are specifically designed for praise. When we praise God the electrical impulses of the brain stimulate the production of positive chemical endorphins. These endorphins are health and life-giving. The Ministry of Healing states, "Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise” (p. 251).

We are programmed to praise. Today let your heart be filled with the life-giving, health-producing, wellness-stimulating attitude of praise.

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