Still praying strong. An empirical study of the praying practices in a secular society
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[S.l. : s.n.]
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RU Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 29 augustus 2007
Promotores : Janssen, J.A.P.J., Scheepers, P.L.H.
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SW OZ BSI SCP
SubjectBehaviour Change and Well-being
This thesis addresses my PhD project that was carried out at the Radboud University in Nijmegen (the Netherlands). The project is a continuation of the ongoing research programme, headed by Jacques Janssen, on praying practices. The aim of present study is twofold, (1) to describe the praying practices of the Dutch, and (2) to investigate why people pray in a secularised society. First, we examined the praying frequency of the Dutch population (SOCON, social and cultural developments in the Netherlands, N = 1008), and administered six open-ended questions about praying: what is praying to you?, and why, how, with which aim, where and when do you pray? Finally, we administered a prayer inventory and coping questionnaire to examine the relation between religious coping and varieties of prayer. Taken together, the findings showed that praying behaviour is a widespread religious activity among the Dutch population, in spite of the decline in church membership and church attendance. Furthermore, four types of praying were distinguished: two traditional prayer types, the religious and petitionary prayer, and two more individualised, spiritual, or non-institutionalised types, the meditative and impulsive prayer. As regards the reasons why praying behaviour may survive in a secularised society, we found first, that religious socialisation plays an important role in transmitting traditionally religious behaviour, whereas it plays no role with respect to contemporary religious behaviour. Subsequently, it emerged that praying is related to religious coping. In addition, various types of praying are related to various coping styles. Hence, we conclude that praying may have a psychological function to people, particularly when confronted with existential problems of life. In that case, people develop a way to prayer, not related to a religious institution, but a way that fits their individualised needs.
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