We are very happy to have you visit the website
of the ProSAAM project. The project is designed to examine which
of three approaches to marital enrichment and enhancement is most
effective. All of the approaches build on 30 years of research in
the marital area. ProSAAM is an effort to Promote Strong African
The project will compare three groups. One group will work through
an established self-help program on their own. A second group will
meet in small groups with a trained leader who will lead them through
the program. A third group will meet with a trained leader, but
this group also will use a series of prayers that tie into skills
they’re learning in the PREP program. Each of the approaches
has its own advantages, but currently there is no comparative information
about which approach will provide the greatest benefits.
You can find out more about the ideas that inspired the project,
the personnel working on the project, and some recent press releases
by following the links on the left side of this page.
We hope that one outgrowth of the current project will be increased
dialogue between communities of faith and scientists studying ways
to strengthen marriage, family, and relationships. It is increasingly
important that scientists and theologians be able to address each
other's concerns and engage in a productive dialogue. For more information
about activities that bring science and religion into contact, we
recommend the Science
and Religion website supported by the John Templeton Foundation.
The current project is designed to offer new insights at the boundary
between theology and science using a rigorous, open-minded and empirically
focused methodology. We address the benefits of a theologically
inspired intervention, intercessory prayer, in the context of documenting
the psychological processes and benefits put in motion by intercessory
prayer. By examining this intersection between psychology and theology,
we are able to ask whether there is a way for the practice of intercessory
prayer to become more effective and more generally influential in
promoting well-being and changing one’s life. We propose that
just as physical exercise may benefit an individual more if it is
done regularly and with a focus on particular key physical systems,
intercessory prayer for one’s partner may show enhanced benefits
if it is done regularly and in a manner that captures key psychological
We anticipate that the beneficial effects of focused, intercessory
prayer for the partner will encourage many couples to make intercessory
prayer a regular part of their own spiritual development activities.
By finding and developing a connection to their own spiritual center,
they will make better decisions about their primary relationship
with their partner. Moreover, the personal and marital benefits
experienced will encourage them to go further in their own spiritual
exploration and gain a fresh appreciation of the critical import
of the spiritual dimension of their life. Nothing is likely to be
a more immediate and more powerful reward for the participants than
the recognition that prayer is helping their marital relationships.
On the other hand, documenting the benefits to psychological and
physical health will be powerful in convincing researchers and policy
makers of the value of intercessory prayer as a spiritual exercise.
We also anticipate that, because the project is well grounded
in current psychological theory, positive results will be accepted
by marital researchers and will engender a greater openness to spirituality
as an important aspect of the empirical study of marital relationships.
If so, this will provide a model to marital researchers of a more
open approach to the study of marriage and perhaps begin to redress
the relative oversight of spirituality in marital theory and research.
At the same time, the current approach may demonstrate to religious
leaders that psychological theory may be helpful to them in promoting
prayer and spirituality. Accordingly, the work proposed has the
potential to influence both training programs for marital counselors
at the same time that it has the potential to facilitate a new and
more open dialogue between religious leaders and marital researchers.
Likewise, we incorporate organized intercessory prayer in order
to examine its potential impact on important social outcomes. It
is expected that participation in organized intercessory prayer
will confer a range of benefits, including enhancing future dissemination
At its most basic level, the project is based on the conviction
that enhanced spirituality will promote social relationships, individual
mental health, and individual physical health outcomes. We expect
to find evidence in the social arena to support Sir John Templeton’s prediction that “if governments
encourage people to become more spiritual there will be a reduction in healthcare.”