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An empirical study of ordinary prayer

By Tania ap Siôn


The aim of the thesis is to demonstrate the significance of ordinary prayer for the\ud study of ordinary theology, as conceived by Astley (2002), and to make an original\ud contribution to research in this field. For this purpose, in part one, the thesis begins\ud by establishing the relationship between ordinary theology and ordinary prayer,\ud followed by a review and evaluation of empirical studies relevant to ordinary prayer.\ud These studies are organised according to five themes: who prays, when people pray,\ud the subjective effects of prayer, the objective effects of prayer, and the content of\ud prayer. Part one concludes with a consideration of the significance of the empirical\ud prayer studies for the understanding of ordinary theology and ordinary theologians,\ud and demonstrates their practical importance to the Church. Based on the evidence\ud gathered thus far, a new methodology is proposed, which supports the detailed study\ud of ordinary prayer content found in prayer requests left in churches. The new\ud methodology involves the development of an analytical framework designed to\ud explore the content of ordinary prayer through the three components of reference,\ud intention, and objective. In part two, the analytical framework is employed in five\ud case studies: two case studies test the general framework through the analysis of two\ud different sets of prayer requests; one case study uses the general framework to\ud explore ordinary prayer and implicit religion; and two case studies use modifications\ud of the intention component of the framework in order to provide focused studies\ud relating to ordinary prayer and health and well-being and to ordinary prayer and the\ud activity of God in the world. The thesis concludes with an evaluative summary of the\ud contribution of ordinary prayer to ordinary theology in general and the contribution\ud of the new methodology to the study of ordinary prayer and ordinary theology in\ud particular

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