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Listening to prayers: an analysis of prayers left in a country church in rural England

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This study builds on a long-established tradition within the psychology of religion concerned with the analysis and interpretation of prayer. Drawing on 917 prayer-cards le in one rural church over a sixteenth-month period, the analysis distinguishes between three aspects of intercessory and supplicatory prayer defined as reference, intention, and objective. Results of the analysis showed that only 4% of prayer requests had the prayer author as a key focus, and that there was a preference to pray for other people and for world or global issues (90%). Specific concrete issues were not included in 29% of prayer requests, but in the 71% of requests where concrete contexts were provided, 76% of these were concerned with illness, death, and conflict or disaster. Overall, there were more examples of secondary control (57%) than primary control (43%), and primary control was found more often in requests which had the prayer author as a key focus and in the categories of illness, growth, work, relationships, and general requests. These results give rise to a number of hypotheses regarding prayers authors' perceptions of prayer and its purpose.


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Affiliations: 1: Welsh National Centre for Religious Education, University of Wales, Bangor, UK


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