Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there, goes a saying. Not when you are suffering from anxiety-related disorders as prayers may not ease symptoms for everyone.
According to a fascinating study, unanswered or otherwise unsuccessful experiences of prayer may be disturbing and debilitating - and may, therefore, lead to more frequent and severe symptoms of anxiety-related disorders.
To understand this, researchers analysed data from 1,714 individuals who participated in the "Baylor Religion Survey" completed by the Gallup Organisation.
The study focused on general anxiety, social anxiety, obsession and compulsion.
It found that those who prayed to God whom they thought would be there to protect them were less likely to show symptoms of anxiety-related disorders than those who prayed but did not expect God to comfort or protect them.
"Those who believe that God will be there to protect them during times of need develop a secure attachment to God. In this context, prayer appears to confer emotional comfort which results in fewer symptoms of anxiety-related disorders," explained Matt Bradshaw, an assistant professor of sociology at Texas-based Baylor University's college of arts & sciences.
For many individuals, God is a major source of comfort and strength that makes the world seem less threatening and dangerous.
But for some individuals who have insecure attachment to the almighty, prayer may feel like an unsuccessful attempt to cultivate and maintain an intimate relationship with God.
"Our findings are consistent with a growing body of research indicating that a person's perceived relationship with God can play an important role in shaping mental health," researchers noted.
The paper was published in the journal Sociology of Religion.