Corwin, “Lord, Hear Our Prayer”

Corwin, Anna. 2014. Lord, Hear Our Prayer: Prayer, Social Support, and Well-Being in a Catholic Convent. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 24(2): 174-192.

Abstract: This article examines intercessory prayer, specifically, petitions to the divine as they are performed in Mass and in prayer groups at a Catholic convent in the midwestern United States. It demonstrates that these petitions function on multiple levels. Petitions are designed primarily as a form of communication with the divine, intended to elicit divine aid. In addition to functioning as requests to the divine, the petitions function on a number of socio-communicative levels: first, as an index of the presence of the divine; second, as a means for individuals to communicate social support to copresent participants; and third, as a mode of peer socialization. Finally, these multiple functions of prayer provide spiritual and social support that may contribute, in the context of the convent, to the inhabitant nuns’ documented success in achieving physical and mental well-being throughout their lives.