A new theorem shows that noise can speed convergence to equilibrium in discrete finite-state Markov chains. The noise applies to the state density and helps the Markov chain explore improbable regions of the state space. The theorem ensures that a stochastic-resonance noise benefit exists for states that obey a vector-norm inequality. Such noise leads to faster convergence because the noise reduces the norm components. A corollary shows that a noise benefit still occurs if the system states obey an alternate norm inequality. This leads to a noise-benefit algorithm that requires knowledge of the steady state. An alternative blind algorithm uses only past state information to achieve a weaker noise benefit. Simulations illustrate the predicted noise benefits in three well-known Markov models. The first model is a two-parameter Ehrenfest diffusion model that shows how noise benefits can occur in the class of birth-death processes. The second model is a Wright-Fisher model of genotype drift in population genetics. The third model is a chemical reaction network of zeolite crystallization. A fourth simulation shows a convergence rate increase of 64% for states that satisfy the theorem and an increase of 53% for states that satisfy the corollary. A final simulation shows that even suboptimal noise can speed convergence if the noise applies over successive time cycles. Noise benefits tend to be sharpest in Markov models that do not converge quickly and that do not have strong absorbing states.