Theoretical Explorations and Empirical Investigations of Communication and Prayer

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Nearly every definition of prayer refers to some type of communication phenomenon, yet most scholars, especially those in the field of communication, have not pursued the study of prayer as communication. This work brings the relational characteristics of communication into contact with the spiritual life of prayer. It employs quantitative and qualitative methodologies to legitimize the study of prayer as a communication phenomenon, create a theoretical model of prayer, provide three empirical tests of the model, and apply the model to several different contexts, including health, eastern religions, and teaching. The future of communication and prayer research is also considered in terms of theory building, improvements in methodology, and practical applications. This study will be of interest to scholars in the fields of communication, religious studies, psychology, and medicine.


“Every so often within each discipline a book comes along that so definitively uncovers and unfolds an area of research that it stands to become seminal….Baesler offers an important study of a compelling phenomenon in contemporary life. He begins to take us beyond the question of whether prayer works to the arguably more challenging question of how prayer works. His application of communication theory to understanding prayer reveals plausible answers. The study is conceptually and theoretically well-grounded. The research questions are affirmed through a series of well-crafted empirical tests. The author treats prayer without sectarian bias, defining it generally enough that multiple modes or styles of discourse are included….He draws and extends from the conclusions of each study important implications for further study of prayer.” – Robert A. Stewart, Texas Tech University

“This work fills a vital need in the social scientific study of communication in what has been, to date, a scandalous dearth of production. Although Baesler is careful to provide justification for the scholarly treatment of the universal communicative practice of prayer, the question as to whether such treatment is worthy of academic study is beyond question….Baesler’s project is ambitious in scope. Of special note is Baesler’s review of literature on Western and Eastern perspectives on prayer covering some twenty centuries. Also of note is the presentation of a relational model of prayer which provides a logical array of variables and variable relations accounting for certain kinds of prayer-as-communication activity….. Baesler’s most important contribution may well be his thoroughgoing, and, at times, provocative discussion of the heuristic possibilities entailed in the study of prayer-as-communication.” – Michael E. Eidenmuller, Assistant Professor of Communication, University of Texas at Tyler

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Foreword; Preface
1. Foundations I: Prayer and Communication
2. Foundations II: A Communication Model of Prayer
3. Three Empirical Tests of the Relational Prayer Model: Frequency of Prayer and Relationship with God; Frequency of Prayer and Relational Intimacy with God; Frequency of Prayer, Relational Intimacy with God, and Age
4. Prayer and Health: Prayer as a Coping Mechanism in the Lives of Mothers with HIV
5. Prayer and the Holy Name: Eastern and Western Spiritual Traditions
6. Prayer and the Academy: Survey of Catholic and Protestant Courses on Personal Prayer
7. Prayer and the Future: Exploring Agendas for Prayer Research
Bibliography; Author Index; Subject Index

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