Mechanisms underlying significant associations between different types of prayer and depression are unknown. Based on the conceptualization of prayer as stress buffering coping style and the Response Style Theory, we proposed that rumination mediates the association of prayer types and stress with depression. This cross-sectional study (N = 227 Christians, Mage 41.74, SD 14.82, age range 18–82 years, 76% female) used path modeling to test whether rumination mediated the associations between prayer types and prayer types by stress interactions with depression. Rumination fully mediated the associations of the colloquial and ritual prayer by stress interactions with depressive symptoms, while meditative and petitionary prayer was directly associated with depressive symptoms. Further, petitionary prayer and the ritual prayer by stress interaction were associated with more and not with less rumination and depressive symptoms, respectively. Summarized, first empirical evidence supports an integration of prayer, stress, and rumination into one model of depression. However, the exact nature of their interplay depends on the prayer type. If replicated, our findings allow the integration of prayer into cognitive-behavioral treatment of depression in religious and spiritual clients.
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