A Prayer for Owen Meany has been both widely praised and criticized. Beloved by many Irving fans and the all-time favorite novel of others, the book has nevertheless faced both positive and negative criticism from book critics. Alfred Kazin scrutinized John Wheelwright for being a "conscious and unapologetic wimp" and referred to Owen Meany as a "little squirt." However, J. Denny Weaver commented on Owen's "heroic death," and remarked on the book's continuing theme that life is miraculous. Overall, critics found the novel to be a different but successful addition to Irving's works. The book was on the New York Times Bestseller List.
According to publisher Simon & Schuster, A Prayer for Owen Meany is Irving's "all-time bestselling novel, in every language."