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.