Press release: children naturally open to Spirituality


Research released in 2016 suggests that children are open to spirituality and have a “natural inclination for prayer”, whether or not their parents have an active or non- existent faith. The study, conducted by Christian Research on behalf of Scripture Union (England and Wales) found that children treated prayer as a conversation and expect real and immediate responses from God.

It was also revealed that moments of loss, separation, and confusion trigger soul- searching and embryonic spiritual enquiry amongst children. Those moments provide entry points for parents to mention guardian angels, the spiritual realm, heaven, the existence of a Higher Power.

Maggie Barfield, project lead for Scripture Union on the study says, “What has surprised us with this research is the openness children have to spirituality and prayer across the board. It would be expected that children from an active Christian family would pray, but to discover even those from a family with a less active faith were praying to a Higher Power is fascinating.”

Scripture Union has nearly 150 years’ experience of working with children and in understanding their engagement with faith, and commissioned the project to better understand children’s engagement in prayer and with the Bible. The research project focused on children aged 8 -12 years old also included interviews with parents and was conducted among families who were both active in their faith and those who had no recognisable affiliation to the church.

Rob Powys-Smith, Researcher at Christian Research agrees, “In each of the focus groups, we had some expectations of how the children would respond. Their openness and, but more importantly their expectation to have their prayers answered was a challenge to those expectations. Prayer for them seems to be a very natural part of their journey of faith, whether or not they are active church goers.”

The research is the initial phase of a new project soon to be launched by Scripture Union, titled Guardians of Ancora. The tablet-based game is said to be the first of its kind, integrating biblical content in a dynamic gaming environment. The project has already received significant investment and it is anticipated will be popular among 8 – 12 year olds.


About Scripture Union

Scripture Union is a mission movement focused on children and young people. We believe that every child should have the opportunity to be introduced to Jesus and we’ve been involved in a wide range of exciting Bible-based ministries for nearly 150 years.


3 thoughts on “Press release: children naturally open to Spirituality

  1. This is very interesting research. I tend to credit God creating us in his image with a desire to worship and know him. Pretty powerful to think that even children who don’t explicitly hear the gospel or explicitly hear the stories of God still feel His presence so powerfully.


  2. Please can you tell me what format this research is available to the public in? I’m interested in knowing how it differs from, or perhaps builds on, the research done in the 1990’s by David Hay and Rebecca Nye, published in the book “The Spirit of the Child”, which yielded similar results to those reported above. Thanks.


    1. Hi Angela,
      We’re pleased to hear that this article has interested you. If you’d like to know more about the research which the article is based on, we’d recommend looking at the website of the ‘Barna group’ (which you can find easily via a google search). They have access to this and many other faith-based research projects.
      Best wishes, Guardians of Ancora


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