Prayer and Forgiveness: Beyond Relationship Quality and Extension to Marriage

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Abstract

The majority of the world population profess religious/spiritual beliefs and prayer is a form of spiritual activity common across numerous religious/spiritual belief systems. Three studies therefore examined the role of prayer in romantic relationships. Study 1 (n = 91) showed that prayer for a dating partner predicted lower aggressive tendencies and greater forgiveness of partner transgressions, independently of relationship closeness. Study 2 (n = 89 married couples) is among the first to examine the prayer–forgiveness association using dyadic data. Controlling for relationship satisfaction in the actor–partner interdependence model, prayer for the spouse predicted own forgiveness but not partner’s reports of their own forgiveness. To obviate the problem of obtaining all the data from the same reporter, Study 3 (n = 91 married couples) used partner reports of the spouse’s forgiveness in an actor–partner interdependence model analysis. Controlling for religiosity, the results showed that prayer for the partner predicted partner reports of the prayer’s forgiveness. The implications of these results are then discussed.

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