Assessing the Relationships Among Prayer Expectancies, Race, and Self-Esteem in Late Life



When people pray, they have certain beliefs or expectations about the nature of the response they hope to receive. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between two specific prayer expectancies and self-esteem with data provided by a nationwide survey of older adults. The first has to do with the timing of answers to prayers while the second involves the ways prayers are answered. The data suggest that feelings of self-worth are highest when older people believe that only God knows when it is best to answer a prayer, and only God knows the best way to answer it. In contrast, self-esteem tends to be lower among older adults who believe prayers are answered right away and believe they get exactly what they ask for. However, further analysis reveals that the benefits of prayer expectancies are more evident among older African Americans than among older whites.