Pray to be a giving soul

Attending worship services changes you whether you think so or not. God moves in very mysterious ways. One of the most powerful ways is when we give ourselves to God in worship. Our expectations have an impact on our worship experience that people who find worship powerful, moving and meaningful are those individuals who have prepared and expect to be transformed by the worship experience.

In a recent report from The National Opinion Research Center (NORC), people who attend religious services and pray perform more acts of kindness each year than those who don’t attend services.

The study found people who never attend services helped others about 96 times a year. Weekly worshippers were good for 128 selfless acts per annum. The study also found that liberals were no more altruistic in their deeds than conservatives. Nor were small-towners more altruistic than city folk.

People who prayed at least once a week performed nearly twice as many altruistic acts as those who never prayed. Those who prayed many times a day did three times as many good deeds as non-kneelers. Acts of kindness include helping a homeless person, returning money to a cashier after getting too much change, allowing a stranger to go ahead in line, donating blood, offering one’s seat on a bus or in a public place to a stranger who is standing, giving directions to a strangers or spending time talking with someone who is a bit down or depressed.

The study also measured empathy, perhaps proving the obvious: Women are more empathetic than men. While 46 percent of the women were pained by other people’s misfortunes, only 25 percent of the guys gave a hoot.

Come to worship this week and expect to be changed.

Bill Brown is the pastor at Montevallo First United Methodist Church.