Study: Attending Religious Services Linked to Better Health – Is There More to it Than That?

The Canadian National Post carried an article – Attending Religious Services Linked to Better Health – earlier this week about a study that was conducted in Canada. The authors of the research say that is the first of its kind in Canada to link heart-related health and religious observance.

Ananya Banerjee, the epidemiologist who headed the research, and her colleagues looked at 5,400 people surveyed in Saskatchewan. They found that those who went to church or attended other religious services more than once a week were almost 20% less likely to suffer from hypertension and had 40% less chance of being diabetic. Fewer of the frequent churchgoers reported coronary-heart disease, as well, but the difference was deemed not statistically significant.

An explanation as to why the positive health benefits see to occur is that “people were in a meditative state, it was a place where they felt at peace,” Banerjee said. “It was a time they could actually reflect on their lives and absorb everything that was being said … about how to live life to the fullest according to God’s will.”

I can imagine that the regular feeling of peace and being in a ‘meditative state’ has something to do with positive health outcomes. When the body experiences peace and quiet, it’s clearly good for our health.

At a deeper level I imagine that it’s the connection that these people have with God that is making a big impact on health. The relationship of knowing God is hugely important for our well being.

Before Jesus went to the cross to die for our sins he cried out in prayer to his Father. “Father – just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.” John 17:21 He was praying that all future believers would be united together and also that each of us would be ‘in them.’ Being ‘in Jesus’ and ‘in God’ is as intimate as it gets. When we are ‘in Jesus’ then we have more of a likelihood to be in his will and to live the abundant life that he desires us to have. John 10:10 Health and wholeness can be a part of that abundant life.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Look at the end of John 17:21. Jesus’ motivation for us to be ‘in him’ was so that the world would believe that God sent him to die for our sins. He wanted God to be glorified by his actions. He wanted the world to know his Father, God.

Our primary purpose in life is to make God known… to make him famous. Our good health can help us serve him by serving others with the gifts he has given us. Our good health can help make God known.

Perhaps attendance at religious services and the accompanying better health status is an indicator that many of those who attend services have a relationship with God and they are ‘in him.’ Perhaps this explains the connection.

What about you? Are you healthy? Or, is your poor health – due to your lifestyle choices – preventing you from serving others with the full measure of the gifts that God has given you?

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