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Sammanfattning: The aim of this dissertation is to analyze, compare, and interpret the prerequisites, expressions, and functions of prayer among Muslims and Christians. This study is based mainly on in-depth interviews with 17 Muslims and 18 Christians. The interview material, collected in Sweden between 1997 and 1999, was subjected to qualitative analysis, comparison, and hermeneutic interpretation. The results show that narratives regarding God's presence and answered prayers are in some ways structurally similar for Muslims and Christians. Yet because these informants incorporate these experiences in different religious contexts, the experiences have somewhat different meanings for them.Furthermore, this study shows that a group of interacting factors is important in the interpretation of the experience of God's presence. The most important of them are the availability of religious concepts and narratives and the spatial context of the experience. The availability of religious constructs is likewise an important factor in interpreting events as answers to prayer, but in this case the temporal context of the events is more important than the spatial one.The prayer experienced as unanswered, largely neglected in earlier research on prayer experiences, was also addressed in this study. Analysis revealed that the informants make use of five different cognitive strategies in order to make sense of what look like unanswered prayers. Examination of narratives regarding the unanswered prayer - which may be interpreted by the informant as an answered one - shows that the process of interpretation in relation to the prayer act is more complex than has been evident in earlier research.Finally, this study shows that the prayer act leads to experiences that actualize and animate cognitive and normative components of the religious meaning system. Praying together with other people in the same language, with similar linguistic phrases and body movements, creates feelings of affinity to other believers and makes it possible for others to confirm the individuals' own religious identities. Prayer thus helps the person praying to remain a Muslim or a Christian.
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