Scientific Effectiveness of Prayer

Prayer Activates the Genes and a Mind of Compassion Is Linked with the Strengthening of the Immune Functions

From the research of Dr. Kazuo Murakami, Professor Emeritus, Tsukuba University

To investigate the effect on body and mind of prayer and meditation, an examination of the on and off of genes was conducted on priests who are daily engaged in prayer and meditation.

The necessary genetic information for the activities of life for all living things is called DNA.

As a mechanism to produce the necessary DNA according to the changes of time and environment, the human body is adjusting itself while turning the appearance of DNA on or off like a switch. In other words, “on” is the state where the appearance of DNA is being activated and “off” is the state where the appearance of DNA is weakened or stopped. Various factors are involved in this adjustment and it is generally known that the so-called states of the “mind” also influence the “on and off.”

Among the DNA there is the DNA connected with type 1 interferon. Type 1 interferon suppresses the growth of virus. It is a protein that is protecting the body from virus by eradicating the infected cells.   The priests are assumed to be activating their DNA for natural immunity. That is because of the religious training to become a priest or the disposition that is acquired and maintained through daily practice.

The most interesting results of this investigation is the discovery of a definite connection between empathy (compassion) and type 1 interferon. It is presumed that from here is the common base for empathy and natural immune function. This is a most interesting result and it is imagined that kindness and prayer are related to the formation of that base. In other words, a mind of compassion strengthens the immunity. It can be thought that the nurturing a mind of compassion through religious training (meditation and prayer) of the priests led to the strengthening of the immune functions.


During the time that we are awake, for 47 percent of that time our mind is removed from the instant of now this present moment. This wandering mind, which is thinking about something else other than what we are now actually doing at now this present moment for 46.9 percent of the time that we are awake, is decidedly the very thing that is ruining the mood of the person.

From: “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind” by Matthew A. Killingsworth (PhD Psychology), Harvard University psychologist and Daniel T. Gilbert (Professor of Psychology) in the 2010 Science magazine.


Translated by Mr. Dean Makinodan