The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between health locus of control and helpfulness of prayer as a direct-action coping mechanism in patients before having cardiac surgery. The Multidimensional Health Locus of Control Scales and the investigator-developed Helpfulness of Prayer Scale were issued to 100 subjects 1 day before cardiac surgery. Ninety-six subjects indicated that prayer was used as a coping mechanism in dealing with the stress of cardiac surgery, and 70 of these subjects gave it the highest possible rating on the Helpfulness of Prayer Scale. No relationship was found between health locus of control and helpfulness of prayer. Individuals of each locus orientation perceived prayer to be helpful. Findings suggest that prayer is perceived as a helpful, direct-action coping mechanism and warrants support by health personnel. It is recommended that further research explore the effect of prayer on patients' ability to cope with stressful situations.