Fowler’s Theory of Faith Development: Understanding Prayer

Topics: Religion, Prayer, Spirituality Pages: 10 (3920 words) Published: August 25, 2013
Fowler’s Theory of Faith Development: Understanding Prayer PSY 410: The Psychology of Spiritual Development

Spirituality and religion play a significant role in shaping the lives of individuals. Regardless of whether you follow the practices of an organized religion, simply believe in the spiritual life force or claim to not ascribe to religious or spiritual traditions, all of these paths affect the way an individual interacts with the world around them. One of the major influences of religion or spirituality is on one’s ability to cope with difficult situations. Whether it is the death of a loved one or the loss of a job, religion and spirituality can have monumental effects on how the individual responds to stressful or traumatic situations. However, both religion and spirituality have been placed on the backburners of the academic discourse. Historically, the importance of spirituality and religion has taken on a variety of different meanings. The Axial Age, which emerged around the 6th century BCE, saw a new world-centric vision of human religions and human-centered spiritual values and established the foundation for a pre-modern religiously based civilization that elevated the human soul and the power of human faith. By the 18th century BCE, there was another major shift which propelled us forward into the Philosophical Age. The Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation has set the stage for an age of scientific revolution. The Enlightenment philosophers created new scientific methodologies, political ideologies, and spiritual philosophies, which diverged from the religious dogma of the past. This philosophical movement took great pride in the capabilities of the human mind and the power of human reason, which became the core foundation for this modern civilization (Richardson, 2012).

Throughout history the world has been fairly polarized, clinging to the extremes of faith or reason. However in the 21st century CE, we have seen yet another shift in the spiritual and religious discourse. There is this growing belief that neither faith or reason alone can adequately provide the answers that people seek, so we have seen the emergence of a new comprehensive approach. This post-modern enlightenment combines the human body, mind, soul and spirit into a new integral worldview of scientific paradigms and religious visions. As we discussed in class, there has been a push to merge the two back together and to understand that although we are coming out of an age of science and reason, humans a spiritual beings. Regardless of whether you belong to a particular institutionalized religion or find spirituality outside of organized religion, each person has an inherent spiritual component and to disregard it when trying to understand or treat an individual would provide an incomplete picture of the whole being.

Research in the psychology of religion often reveals different outcomes between religion and spirituality. A person’s religion is a collection of belief systems and moral values, often established by a governing institution. Religion is generally more traditional, organized, and sociological. Spirituality, on the other hand, is a measure of one’s innate relationship with their God. Spirituality is viewed and studied as being more free-flowing and psychological. In the psychology of coping with trauma, religion and spirituality can play very different roles. Some research shows that religion, but not spirituality can help with coping, while other shows that inherent spirituality can be a very effective style of coping. The differences found between religious and spiritual coping may be further evidence of the role of attachment styles and types of coping used.

One of the most common ways that people cope with trauma is through the comfort found in religious or spiritual traditions. Psychologists who study spirituality and religion have directed many studies in an attempt to measure the positive and negative...

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Fowler, J. W. (1981). Stages of faith, the psychology of human development and the quest for meaning. (1st ed.). New York, NY: Harper Collins.
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Prayers . (2012, August 11). Retrieved from http://www.motherteresa.org
Richardson, G. (2012). Historic ages of enlightenment. Class Handout.
Richardson, G. (2012). Developmental degrees of adult spiritual maturity. Class Handout.
Roelkepartin, E. C., King, P. E., Wagener, L., & Benson, P. L. (2006). The handbook of spiritual development in childhood and adolescence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Spirituality and prayer. (2012, March 19). Retrieved from http://www.breastcancer.org/treatment/comp_med/types/spirituality.jsp
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