I thought this was an interesting article because it confirms the experience of so many of us:
Does prayer help us resist temptation? Talking to God boosts self-control and emotional stability, claims study
Of course, I have heard this played through by atheists who will say that just because man wants or 'needs' to believe it does not necessarily prove he existence of God. This is true.
But, it does go against the common hack that religion somehow makes men worse. For example, there is an oft-repeated line about how many wars were started over religion. Obviously, this is rubbish and only believed by people who are not very good at reading history books. A recent study shows how much garbage that one is:
Yes, we are surrounded by loads of obnoxious religious nut-jobs, but if you are talking about Christianity, you will have a hard time arguing that believing in Christ leaves you somehow more susceptible to mass murder than being an atheist. The 20th century proves otherwise.
Christianity instills a sense of the holiness of all human life, whether it is 'wanted' or not. While we are all surrounded by examples of religious people who are annoying or even emotionally abusive, on the larger scale this is simply a statistically small percentage of the overall population.
You may feel, as an atheist, that you are intellectually superior to your believing cohort, but the fact is that you are probably less well in the greater scheme of things. Sure, studies largely show that prayer has no measurable effect on outcomes, but I could have told you that. Most people I pray for still end up remaining sick and dying. What is does do is make the suffering far more tolerable, and, in some cases, eliminates it altogether.
While there are those who can get sober without God and without prayer, there are plenty of people who find that they can't get sober any other way. I wish that atheists would at least acknowledge that there are some real, tangible benefits.
And, I think these benefits outstrip the need to disprove the existence of God or suppress the free expression of belief in a public manner. I think it is important, from an addictions prevention perspective, to give people as much information about God as can be agreed upon without violence and turmoil.
Of course, I mean a loving God rather than a bombs-and-beheading 'God,' which I think is a misapplication of the name of God to one of His fallen angels. If the God we believe in is one who heals and forgives, then the notion that He is commanding people to cut other folks heads off is just silly.
So is the 'hellfire-and-brimstone god' of the Calvinists. Calvinism is paganism with Christian words. It makes prayer to God an intercession of fear rather than of love, and fear is simply not enough to heal us.
While fear is powerful, it is not as powerful as love. Love overcomes fear.
That's why the 12 Steps work, because it entices the addict to believe in the love of God, and that is enough for him to overcome his fears in a step-by-step fashion. The power of prayer is the power of love.
Love overcomes despair and terror and doubt. Love saves life, because it is life.