Prayer: Jonathan Edwards and the Cognitive Science of Religion
This presentation examines recent studies on prayer in the fields of anthropology and the cognitive science of religion (CSR) and applies those findings to Jonathan Edwards’ views of prayer. In Edwards’ personal life, his sermons and other writings, and in requests from his congregation (“prayer bids”), what was the focus of prayer, particularly petitionary prayer? What was its purpose? Through which mode of causation was God most likely to act? How did God “answer” or respond to prayer requests? How did one learn to recognize the presence of God in prayer? CSR research opens up constructive possibilities for addressing these questions both in Edwards’ day and ours, yet also raises other questions regarding the nature of human personhood.
||David Kling (PhD University of Chicago) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Miami, where he has been since 1986. He is the author of A Field of Divine Wonders: The New Divinity and Village Revivals in Northwestern Connecticut, 1792-1822, and The Bible in History: How the Texts Have Shaped the Times.