It may sound like the punchline to a joke, but it's not. It appears small business owners, more than others, are searching for a little divine intervention.
A new Baylor University study discovered that American entrepreneurs pray more frequently than those working in other professions. Specifically, more than half of the entrepreneurs surveyed pray daily, and one-third pray several times a day. In comparison, more than half of nonentrepreneurs pray just a few times a week or less frequently.
One of the study's authors, Mitchell Neubert, said that although the research uncovered that business owners are praying more, it didn't reveal what they're praying about. However, he thinks it could have to do with the inherent uncertainty that entrepreneurs constantly face.
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"Prayer may be a request for guidance through uncertainty, the peace and resolve to steel one's nerves in the midst of uncertainty, or it could be a request for God to bless or intervene on behalf of the entrepreneurs," Neubert told BusinessNewsDaily.
Researchers also found that entrepreneurs tend to worship in pro-business religious communities that encourage participants to start a business and make a profit in business. Neubert believes more research is needed to understand exactly what's causing this relationship.
"These are not traditional areas of emphasis for all religious communities, so these emphases are likely to be salient to entrepreneurs and may be a factor in their selecting a congregation," he said. "Alternatively, the presence of successful entrepreneurs in a congregation may be an influence on what a congregation affirms and encourages."
The study's authors suggest that with the country's competitive religious market forcing congregations to specialize in order to attract and retain individuals, those that cater to the needs of entrepreneurs may have a competitive advantage.
The researchers also found that business owners are more likely than nonentrepreneurs to think of God as a personal, interactive being. Neubert said entrepreneurs believe that God is interested in them and their problems.
"It is not as though nonentrepreneurs generally think of God as distant or unresponsive," he said. "It is a matter of degree; entrepreneurs simply have a more personal view of God than nonentrepreneurs."
Neubert said that he and study co-author Kevin Dougherty, an associate professor at Baylor, are planning to explore the characteristics of religious communities and whether these characteristics influence how innovative entrepreneurial members are in their current jobs as well as their willingness to try to start new businesses.
The study was recently published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.