Journal Article

An Investigation of the Sociological Patterns of Prayer Frequency and Content*

Joseph O. Baker

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 69, issue 2, pages 169-185
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2008 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/69.2.169
An Investigation of the Sociological Patterns of Prayer Frequency and Content*

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The majority of previous social scientific research on prayer has focused on the relationship between prayer and various types of health outcomes. Only limited attention has been given to prayer itself. This study examines the frequency and content of prayer using empirical data from the Baylor Religion Survey (2005), a national random sample of U.S. adults (N=1,721). Results indicate that women, African-Americans, and those with lower incomes pray more often than males, whites, and those with higher incomes. Concerning content of prayer, African-Americans and those at lower levels of income and education are more likely to pray about petitionary concerns such as asking God to influence personal health or one's financial situation. In addition people at lower income levels are more likely to offer prayer in an effort to gain supernatural favor and good standing with the divine. Theoretically this is understood by conceptualizing prayer as a coping mechanism.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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