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Open AccessArticle

Perception of Religious Brothers and Sisters and Lay Persons That Prayers Go Unanswered Is a Matter of Perceived Distance from God

1
Professorship Quality of Life, Spirituality and Coping, Faculty of Health, Witten/Herdecke University, 58313 Herdecke, Germany
2
IUNCTUS—Competence Center for Christian Spirituality, Philosophical-Theological Academy, 48149 Münster, Germany
3
Faculty of Catholic Theology, Eberhard Karls University, 72074 Tübingen, Germany
4
Caritas Science and Christian Social Work, Faculty of Theology, Albert-Ludwig University, 79085 Freiburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Religions 2020, 11(4), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040178
Received: 16 March 2020 / Revised: 1 April 2020 / Accepted: 5 April 2020 / Published: 9 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Variety and Essence of Prayer – Interdisciplinary Approaches)
Background: Sometimes prayer life can be difficult even for very religious persons, who may experience phases of “spiritual dryness”, which may have a negative effect on their well-being. Methods: To address this topic, we analyzed three contrasting groups of persons (religious brothers and sisters (RBS), n = 273; Catholic lay persons (CLP), n = 716; other lay persons (OLP), n = 351) with standardized measures and investigated how often indicators of spiritual dryness were perceived within these groups and how the perception that private prayers go unanswered could be a result of this. Results: Spiritual dryness was highest in RBS compared to RLP and OLP. For RBS, perception of being “spiritually empty” was the best predictor of prayers going unanswered, indicating emotional/spiritual exhaustion, while in OLP, the perception that God is “distant” was the best predictor, indicating that, particularly in this (younger) group, spiritual doubt is of particular relevance. For CLP, feeling that God is distant, feeling abandoned by God, and feeling “spiritually empty” were similarly relevant predictors of feelings that prayers go unanswered. Conclusions: This knowledge may help psychologists/psychotherapists, pastoral workers, and spiritual advisors to differentiate the underlying causes of spiritual dryness (in terms of “discernment”) and thus support persons struggling with God, their faith, and life. View Full-Text
Keywords: prayer; unanswered prayers; spiritual dryness; distance from God; emotional exhaustion; spiritual emptiness; well-being; religious brothers and sisters; lay persons prayer; unanswered prayers; spiritual dryness; distance from God; emotional exhaustion; spiritual emptiness; well-being; religious brothers and sisters; lay persons
MDPI and ACS Style

Büssing, A.; Winter, S.; Baumann, K. Perception of Religious Brothers and Sisters and Lay Persons That Prayers Go Unanswered Is a Matter of Perceived Distance from God. Religions 2020, 11, 178.

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