29 JACQUES A.P.J. JANSSEN, MAERTEN H. PRINS, JAN M. VAN DER LANS & COR BAERVELDT THE STRUCTURE AND VARIETY OF PRAYER An Empirical Study of Dutch Youth SUMMARY Although in Europe as a whole and in the Netherlands in particular, church mem- bership is in steady decline, most Dutch youth still pray. In this study, praying is interpreted as a ritual, composed of seven structural elements: need, action, effect, direction, time, place and method. On theoretical grounds, we distinguish four vari- eties of prayer. In our sample, petitionary prayer and religious prayer were found to coincide. In both, direction (mostly towards God) is central and so they are labeled as religious prayer. In meditative prayer the focus is on action (meditating or pon- dering). In psychological prayer need (concrete problems, especially the death of loved ones) is central. The importance of time and place was greater than expected. Every type of praying has a specific set of adjuncts. Psychological prayer is mostly said at night, lying in bed. Religious prayer takes place at fixed moments in church. Meditative prayer is performed anywhere and anytime. Young people who pray always combine these three types of prayer, with the core
Journal of Empirical Theology – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2000
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