Thesis Title

Our Father Who Art in Heaven: an Exploration of Prayer Using Grounded Theory

Date of Graduation

Summer 1996


Master of Arts in Communication



Committee Chair

Charlene Berquist


The purpose of this study was to explore the subjective use of prayer among Christians from conservative, Baptist denominations. The individual variables of age and gender were also examined in relation to prayer use. A total of 24 individuals participated in the study. Results revealed five major communicative functions of prayer: 1) prayer as a transactional communication event; 2) prayer as the foundation to an interpersonal relationship with God; 3) prayer as ritual; 4) prayer as catharsis; and 5) prayer as an entitlement and mandate of Christians. Perceptions of prayer varied among age categories. Young adults (18-34) reported using prayer as a type of reassurance, the mid-life individuals (35-64) used prayer as an insulator and form of after-life insurance, while people 65 and older utilized prayer as a form of assurance. Gender was also shown to affect the prayer experience. Women used more emotional expression in prayer and also disclosed the topics of their prayers more readily than males.

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© Kelly L Dobbs