Special Issue "Variety and Essence of Prayer – Interdisciplinary Approaches"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 August 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Arndt Büssing
Guest Editor
Professorship Quality of Life, Spirituality and Coping, Faculty of Health, Witten/Herdecke University, Gerhard-Kienle-Weg 4, 58313 Herdecke, Germany
Interests: mind-body medicine approaches; spirituality and health; quality of life; coping; questionnaire development; integrative medicine; clinical studies; health service research; spiritual dryness; awe
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Stefan Walser
Guest Editor
Philosophical-Theological Academy, Münster, Germany
Interests: Systematic theology; Changes of Faith in modern societies; Theology of Prayer; Franciscan Spirituality

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Prayers have different forms and functions in different religious traditions. They are used to praise God in times of health and wealth, but also to cope in times of insecurity and suffering, or to re-connect with the Sacred. Moreover, apart from the theistic types of prayer, there are other forms which have similar structures (i.e., mantras, affirmations, blessings, etc.) and often similar functions but are less described and analyzed in detail.

This Special Issue raises the question of the essence and function of prayer and therefore focuses on all different forms of praying in different religious traditions:

  • Empirical and qualitative studies on the usage of prayers and related effects (private prayer, intercessory prayers);
  • Praying in different social and religious groups;
  • Prayer in its hermeneutical, epistemological, and performative implications;
  • Theological and anthropological studies on its religious and cultural relevance;
  • Forms, types, and function of prayers to connect with God (i.e., praise/worship, petitionary, ritual, liturgical, reflexive, etc.), inclusively religious songs and silent prayers (contemplation) as specific forms

This Special Issue should thus become a relevant resource of studies in this wide field and invites all related disciplines, i.e., theology, philosophy of religion, psychology, sociology, literary studies, anthropology, medicine, etc.

Prof. Dr. Arndt Büssing
Dr. Stefan Walser
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (1 paper)

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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
Religions 2020, 11(4), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040178 - 09 Apr 2020
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Variety and Essence of Prayer – Interdisciplinary Approaches)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The effect of prayer on Patients’ health and well-being: an anthropological perspective

Prayer is a complex and multidimensional concept, sometimes not properly considered as a relevant element for social structure. In the Christian world, prayer is a timeless tradition, even prior to Christianity. With its diffusion through the Roman Empire and the constitution of the European territory and culture, prayer became a fact where hope, culture, art and belief in God or in a transcendent reality converged. Structural anthropology demonstrates that this reality is transversal in all peoples and cultures. In ​​health-related field, now there are evidences of the importance of prayer and spiritual care for well-being, feeling of comfort, preservation of self-care, and calm facing death. Evidences from research show that faith, prayer and spirituality have therapeutic effects on patients and family caregivers. A growing consensus in the literature has suggested that the presence of a spiritual dimension is an indicator of positive adjustment to the illness treatment, coping with diseases and stress reduction. Among the reasons for a positive association between religion and health is the fact that religious beliefs and practices can evoke positive emotions. Moreover, studies are showing that prayer and faith can boost the immune system.

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