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Psychologists have come to the same conclusion. For example, Dr. Dennis Waitley trained astronauts and Olympic athletes to use visualization type prayer to achieve success:

"I took the visualization process from the Apollo program and instituted it during the 1980s and '90s into the Olympic program. And it was called Visual Motor Rehearsal. When you visualize, then you materialize. And the interesting thing about the mind is, we took Olympic athletes and then hooked them up to sophisticated biofeedback equipment, and had them run their event ONLY in their mind. Incredibly, the same muscles fired, in the same sequence when they were running the race in their mind, as when they were running it on the track. How could this be? Because the mind can't distinguish whether you're really doing it, or whether it's just a practice. I think if you've been there in the mind, you'll go there in the body."

Indeed, psychologists and doctors have harnessed people's intentions to control bodily processes previously thought to be outside of the mind's control, and at times (and under the right conditions) to cure "incurable" illnesses.

Moreover, psychologists who have examined intention and prayer say that this process works not only on our bodies and our abilities to perform physical acts and mental feats, but on other people and the world as a whole.

One possible description of how our prayers might affect a whole group of people is that our minds our connected to the bigger picture:

"our minds and brains function as holographic information processors. If this is true for us as individuals, then it makes sense that our collective mind and consciousness may work this way, as well. Today over 6 billion humans (and minds) inhabit the Earth. Within the container of the Divine Matrix, each individual''s mind is part of a larger single, or collective, consciousness. Regardless of how different they may appear from one another, within each mind is the pattern of the whole consciousness. And through that link, we each have direct access to the entire pattern. In other words, we each have the power to change the hologram of our world...." (Gregg Braden)

From a secular, human potential perspective, we activate more of our inner resources, talents and positive psychological beliefs if we visualize having already succeeded in our goals. Why? If we do not consciously see what we want happening in our minds' eye, we are often driven by negative, unconscious fears of what could go wrong. And then we will act accordingly.

NEXT: How to make your prayers powerful and effective

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