Praying through the "Dark night": prayer, relational spirituality, and spiritual disappointment
In recent decades, researchers have firmly established the importance of religious and spiritual factors in relation to mental health. Particular expressions of relational spirituality (the ways in which persons relate to the sacred) and prayer have been differentially linked with both positive and negative mental health outcomes. Spiritual disappointment is a relational spirituality construct that has been consistently linked negative mental health outcomes. Despite theoretical links between prayer and relational spirituality, empirical researchers have largely neglected to explore the role of prayer in the ways persons relate to the sacred, particularly the association between prayer and spiritual disappointment. Knowledge of these relationships is important for those in the healing professions who are working with clients who have religious and spiritual concerns. In this dissertation, I explore the role of prayer in the relationship between spiritual disappointment and other relational spirituality factors. I begin with an introductory overview, justifying my investigation. Then I review the relevant literature in this area. Next, I describe the procedures and methods of empirical analysis. Finally, I reveal the results and discuss the implications of the findings for future research and practice.