A considerable number of studies have focused on the relationship between prayer, health, and well-being. But the influence of some types of prayer (e.g., petitionary prayer) has received more attention than others. The purpose of this study is to examine an overlooked aspect of prayer: trust-based prayer beliefs. People with this orientation believe that God knows that best way to answer a prayer and He selects the best time to provide an answer. Three main findings emerge from data that were provided by a nationwide longitudinal survey of older people reveals. First, the results reveal that Conservative Protestants are more likely to endorse trust-based prayer beliefs. Second, the findings suggest that these prayer beliefs tend to be reinforced through prayer groups and informal support from fellow church members. Third, the data indicate that stronger trust-based prayer beliefs are associated with a greater sense of life satisfaction over time.
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Researchers have encountered significant difficulty differentiating between Conservative Christians, fundamentalists, evangelicals, and Pentecostals. Evidence of this may be found, for example, in the work of Woodberry and Smith (1998). These investigators argue that, “… distinguishing between Conservative Christians, evangelicals, charismatics, and Pentecostals is complex … They are better understood as loosely connected networks of ministerial, parachurch organizations, schools, seminaries …” (Woodberry and Smith 1998, p. 33). In fact, merely trying to identify the defining characteristics of Pentecostalism is fraught with difficulty, as Hunt et al. (1997) found. These investigators reluctantly concluded that, “… the movement is evolving so rapidly that it is not entirely clear whether these distinguishing hallmarks still hold” (Hunt et al. 1997, p. 2). Clearly, the current study is not the place to resolve these longstanding issues in the field. As a result, the term “Conservative Protestant” is used in the discussion that follows.
The proportion of Conservative Protestants in the current study might initially appear to be much higher than their numbers in the general population. However, it is important to recall that approximately half the participants in the current study are African American, and as the data provided later in this study will reveal, they are much more likely than whites to affiliate with Conservative Protestant congregations.
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This research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging (RO1 AG014749) and the John Templeton Foundation.
Appendix: List of Conservative Protestant denominations
Appendix: List of Conservative Protestant denominations
African Methodist Episcopal
African Methodist Episcopal Zion
American Baptist Association
Assembly of God
Bethany Open Bible
Bible Fellowship Church
Christ Holy Sanctified
Christian and Missionary Alliance
Church of Christ
Church of God
Church of God in Christ
Church of Holiness
Emanuel Evangelical Brotherhood
Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Mormon—Church of the Latter Day Saints
National Baptist Convention
National Baptist Convention USA
Other Baptist Churches
Other Methodist Churches
Seventh Day Adventist
Southern Baptist Convention
Truth Gospel Holiness Church
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod
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Krause, N., Hayward, R.D. Prayer Beliefs and Change in Life Satisfaction Over Time. J Relig Health 52, 674–694 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-012-9638-1
- Prayer beliefs
- Life satisfaction
- Denominational differences