Praying About Difficult Experiences as Self-Disclosure to God
The psychological literature reports that 4 linguistic characteristics of disclosure narratives are associated with personal benefits. These characteristics are causal statements, expressions of insight, and words denoting negative and positive emotions. This study explored whether prayers for help with difficult personal experiences contained similar linguistic characteristics. Participants (N = 66) wrote either disclosures, letters to God, or extemporaneous disclosure prayers. Multivariate analysis of variance of the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count computer program results indicated that the frequency of causal expressions and negative emotionality were not significantly different across the 3 conditions. Insightful and positive emotional expressions were significantly different across conditions, however, because they occurred more often in prayers than in disclosures. Results suggest that these prayers contain similar linguistic characteristics to disclosures and may also be associated with personal benefits.