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Religions 2015, 6(2), 670-685;

“I Heard the Voice. I Felt the Presence”: Prayer, Health and Implications for Clinical Practice

Postgraduate Program in Theology/Postgraduate Program in Bioethics, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Paraná, Rua Imaculada Conceição, 1155, Prado Velho, CEP 80215-901 Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
Department of Psychology, Indiana University South Bend, 1700 Mishawaka Ave, South Bend, IN 46601, USA
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: René Hefti and Arndt Büssing
Received: 7 April 2015 / Revised: 28 May 2015 / Accepted: 3 June 2015 / Published: 11 June 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrating Religion and Spirituality into Clinical Practice)
Full-Text   |   PDF [211 KB, uploaded 11 June 2015]


Research concerning the relation between physical health and prayer typically employs an outcome oriented paradigm and results are inconsistent. This is not surprising since prayer per se is not governed by physiological principles. More revealing and logically compelling, but more rare, is literature examining health and prayer from the perspective of the participants. The present study examines the health–prayer experience of 104 Christians in the United States. Data were collected through recorded video interviews and analyzed by means of content analysis. Results show that prayer is used as a context nuanced spiritual tool for: dealing with physical suffering (spiritual-religious coping); sustaining hope and spirituality via a sacred dimension; personal empowerment; self-transcendence. These findings demonstrate that practitioners primarily engage prayer at a spiritual rather than a physical level, underscoring the limitations of a biomedical or “Complementary and Alternative Medicine” perspective that conceptualizes prayer as a mechanism for intentionally improving physical health. In clinical practice, regarding the medical, psychotherapeutic, or pastoral, the challenge is to understand prayer through the framework of the practitioner, in order to affirm its potential in healthcare processes. View Full-Text
Keywords: prayer; spirituality; religion; health; clinical practice prayer; spirituality; religion; health; clinical practice
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Esperandio, M.R.G.; Ladd, K.L. “I Heard the Voice. I Felt the Presence”: Prayer, Health and Implications for Clinical Practice. Religions 2015, 6, 670-685.

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