Spiritual Conflicts Associated with Praying about Cancer
A secondary analysis of data from a study designed to describe how persons use prayer to cope with cancer is presented in this paper to illuminate the spiritual conflicts that can be experienced among persons with cancer. Employing phenomenological methods, 30 persons from various phases of the cancer experience and religious backgrounds, were interviewed in depth about why, when, and how they prayed, as well as what they prayed about and the outcomes they expected. The secondary analysis revealed that many of these informants had hesitancies about petitionary prayers for particular things, a cure, or for themselves. They also indicated questions about theodicy and the meaning of having cancer, the nature of God, and acknowledged ‘unanswered’ prayer. Several described an inner conflict about releasing control to God. A few referred to bargaining with God, and a few doubted their personal spirituality and worth, if they were praying correctly, and if prayer was efficacious.