The Meaning of Prayer to Children: Evidence from Selected Denominations in Ibadan, Oyo State Nigeria (Published)
Prayer, the art of talking with God, is an activity that Christian children are regularly involved in. This study examined the meaning of prayer to children, and the differences in the meaning of prayer based on denomination, age and gender. This research was a qualitative study which employed a phenomenological design. Bandura’s Social Learning Theory and Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development are the major theories guiding this study. Data collection methods consisted of a semi structured interview, through observations, uncompleted sentences, picture reading and letter writing. The respondents consisted of forty (40) children, ten (10) from each of the four (4) denominations: Christ Apostolic Church (CAC), Catholic Church in Nigeria (CCN), Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry (MFM) and the Nigerian Baptist Convention (NBC). Denominations were chosen for their varied prayer practices. The respondents were grouped into two: older children aged 11-12 and younger children 7-8. Data was analysed using NVivo 11 Pro for Windows. This study revealed that the significance or meaning of prayer for younger and older children is talking to God whom they believe has the power to answer their prayers; however, He can only do this when they pray. Also it is a sequence of powerful words/phrases that they formed or set recited (known of by heart) and said (verbally and in their minds), and actions/activities that were done at a certain time or locations. The children mentioned the significance of prayer as connected to Christianity. Prayer was the very essence of life and of Christianity. According to the children, without prayer, life would be meaningless and a prayer-less Christian is a pretender. Thereby, showing once again that children get their significance or meaning of prayer from within the society they live Prayer is caught and prayer is taught, parents and denominations should be careful what they teach formally or informally to children.
This study uses the linguistic stylistic theory to examine the use of language in the Beatitudes. This is carried out in order to demonstrate to readers that a speaker can deploy language to achieve stylistic effects. The study uses stylistic and content analysis to analyse the linguistic choices used by the speaker in the Beatitudes. The study reveals that each of the Beatitudes is a brief meaningful proverb-like proclamation of blessings. Each line of the Beatitudes has three parts: an ascription of blessedness, a description of the person’s character and a statement of the reason for the blessedness. The first eight sentences comprise two main clauses joined by a coordinator ‘for’, making them compound sentences. Line nine of the Beatitudes deviates from the rest of the lines. It has a single ascription with three conditions which are requirements for the blessedness. The verb to be form ‘are’, is the main form used in the first clauses of the Beatitudes and ‘Blessed’ is the ‘Subject’ throughout the text. The analysis identified three types of parallelism used in the beatitudes namely whole text parallelism, inter-sentential parallelism and intra-sentential parallelism. The use of these types of parallelism improves writing style, readability and comprehension of the text. It was also found that parallelism carried the idea of semantic equality of sentences and clauses within the Beatitudes, performed an emotive function on the reader, and created a satisfying rhythm in the language used by the speaker. The paper found out that each of the linguistic choices has identifiable function that is performed in the Beatitudes. It is concluded that these linguistic elements contribute meaningfully to the thrust of the overall message of the Beatitudes which assures people of high religious virtues to serve faithfully in order to receive blessing in the near future, and that the manipulation of words by a writer creates a distinct style through which he/she reaches out to the audience.