A sample of 2,359 sixth-form pupils (between the ages of 16 and 18 years) in Northern Ireland (1,093 attending seven Protestant schools and 1,266 attending nine Catholic schools) responded in 1998 to Greer's classic question 'Have you ever had an experience of God, for example, his presence or his help or anything else?' Religious experience was reported by 29% of Protestant males, 29% of Catholic males, 39% of Protestant females and 38% of Catholic females. Compared with earlier data these figures reveal a particularly marked decline in reported religious experience among Catholic females (64% in 1981, 56% in 1984, 61% in 1992 and 38% in 1998). The content of the reported religious experience is analysed and illustrated within nine descriptive categories characterised as: help and guidance, exams, God's presence, answered prayer, death, sickness, conversion, difficulty in describing, and miscellaneous.
This study builds on a long-established tradition within the psychology of religion concerned with the analysis and interpretation of prayer. Drawing on 917 prayer-cards le in one rural church over a sixteenth-month period, the analysis distinguishes between three aspects of intercessory and supplicatory prayer defined as reference, intention, and objective. Results of the analysis showed that only 4% of prayer requests had the prayer author as a key focus, and that there was a preference to pray for other people and for world or global issues (90%). Specific concrete issues were not included in 29% of prayer requests, but in the 71% of requests where concrete contexts were provided, 76% of these were concerned with illness, death, and conflict or disaster. Overall, there were more examples of secondary control (57%) than primary control (43%), and primary control was found more often in requests which had the prayer author as a key focus and in the categories of illness, growth, work, relationships, and general requests. These results give rise to a number of hypotheses regarding prayers authors' perceptions of prayer and its purpose.
Although there has been a growing number of empirical studies examining the content of written prayer requests left on prayer boards and in prayer books in cathedrals and churches, there has been no study of the contexts in which such personal devotional activities take place. In a survey of provision in nineteen churches in North Cornwall during August 2013, the present study aimed to explore whether and how rural churches provide for personal prayer and reflection for those outside their gathered congregations. Results indicated that where provision for personal prayer and reflection was evident, it usually took one or more forms, including opportunity to: enter an ‘open’ church; write prayer requests; light votive candles; or add names to memorial books. It is argued that analyses of these physical contexts may offer important insights into how churches understand and express their ministry to visitors seeking this kind of personal devotional space within their church buildings.
Provision of spaces for personal prayer and reflection has become a common phenomenon within historic churches and cathedrals in England and Wales, offering an example of devotional activity that operates largely outside that of traditional gathered congregations, but also in relationship with them. Over the past decade, the apSAFIP (the ap Siôn Analytic Framework for Intercessory Prayer) has been employed to examine the content of personal prayer requests left in various church-related locations, mapping similarities and differences in pray-ers’ concerns. Building on this research tradition, the present study examines whether changes to physical environment in an Anglican cathedral in Wales has an effect on the personal prayer activity occurring within it, with a particular focus on intercessory prayer requests.
This study engages the scientific approach of empirical theology with the investigation and evaluation of the reader perspective approach to biblical hermeneutics rooted in psychological type theory. By engaging participants attending the 2015 annual conference of the Institution for Socio-Biblical Studies, this empirical investigation tests whether individual psychological type preferences influence how academically-trained scholars within the field of biblical studies read, interpret and proclaim scripture. Eleven participants were invited in type-alike groups to engage in a conversation between the Lucan post-resurrection narrative concerning the Road to Emmaus journey and encounter and the contemporary theme of discipleship. The data clearly demonstrated how the distinctive voices of sensing, intuition, feeling, and thinking emerged from the ways in which academically-trained biblical scholars managed the exercise.
The involvement of the Christian Churches within a state-maintained system of schools, as in the case of England and Wales, raises interesting and important questions regarding the concept of religion employed in this context and regarding defining and measuring the influence exerted by schools with a religious character on the students who attend such schools. Since the foundation of the National Society in 1811, Anglican schools have provided a significant contribution to the state-maintained sector of education in England and Wales and by the end of the twentieth century were providing about 25% of primary school places and nearly 5% of secondary school places. From the early 1970s, Francis and his colleagues have offered a series of studies profiling the attitudes and values of students attending Anglican schools as a way of defining and measuring the influence exerted by schools with a religious character. The present study extends previous research in three ways. It offers a comparative study by examining the responses of 1,097 year-nine and year-ten students from 4 Anglican schools with 20,348 students from 93 schools without a religious foundation. It examines a range of religious, social and personal values. It employs multilevel linear models to identify the contribution made by Anglican schools after taking into account differences within the students themselves. Of the 11 dependent variables tested, only one, self-esteem, showed any significant difference between Anglican schools and schools without a religious foundation. Students attending Anglican schools recorded a significantly lower level of self-esteem. On the other hand, there were no significant school effects identified in terms of rejection of drug use, endorsing illegal behaviours, racism, attitude toward school, conservative Christian belief or views on sexual morality (abortion, contraception, divorce, homosexuality, and sex outside marriage).