Debra R. Keeler, Ed.D.
The spiritual growth and prayer experiences of children are a central aspect of Christian schooling. A relatively small amount of scholarly work has examined children’s spiritual growth through prayer. The examination of spiritual development through prayer experiences and the patterns that emerge in Christian schools hold promise in giving Christian schools’ leaders insight into a child’s understanding of and relationship with God. The current research conducted was an examination of the difference between a child’s understanding of and relationship with God among six-year-old children that engage in intentional “listening prayer” practices and those that do not in Christian schools. Differences were determined by interviewing 35 children in an experimental group that practices “listening prayers” and 35 children in a control group that do not, asking 11 questions on prayer. Transcripts were read by a reader team and scored by each question using a rubric to compare for significant differences. The p value indicated no significant difference based upon the hypothesis in the overall combined scores between the listening prayer practices of experimental schools and the control group schools that do not practice listening prayers. Significant differences did exist with experimental schools over control group schools in specific questions and subgroups regarding engagement in spontaneous prayers, what participants prayed about, God speaking to the participants, God speaking to participants in giving them a message for somebody else, answered prayer, and knowing God better because of prayer. The research also included a qualitative analysis of the transcriptions that were coded by themes and patterns to provide additional insight into the differences between the experimental and control groups.
For Dr. Keeler's complete dissertation, click here to order (UMI Publication Number 3558121).