Prayer: A Study in the History and Psychology of Religion

Prayer: A Study in the History and Psychology of Religion

Prayer: A Study in the History and Psychology of Religion

Prayer: A Study in the History and Psychology of Religion

Excerpt

Religious people, students of religion, theologians of all creeds and tendencies, agree in thinking that prayer is the central phenomenon of religion, the very hearthstone of all piety. Faith is, in Luther's judgment, "prayer and nothing but prayer." "He who does not pray or call upon God in his hour of need, assuredly does not think of Him as God, nor does he gives Him the honor that is His due." The great evangelical mystic, Johann Arssndt, constantly emphasizes the truth that: "without prayer we cannot find God; prayer is the means by which we seek and find Him." Schleiermacher, the restorer of evangelical theology in the nineteenth century, observes in one of his sermons: "To be religious and to pray - that is really one and the same thing." Novalis, the poet of romanticism, remarks: "Praying is to religion what thinking is to philosophy. Praying is religion in the making. The religious sense prays, just as the thinking mechanism thinks." The same thought is expressed by the gifted evangelical divine, Richard Rothe, when he says, ". . . the religious impulse is essentially the impulse to pray. It is by prayer, in fact, that the process of the individual religious life is governed, the process of the gradual fulfilment of God's indwelling in the individual and his religious life. Therefore, the non-praying man is rightly considered to be religiously dead."

One of the most eminent evangelical theologians of our time, Adolf Deissmann, holds that "religion, wherever it is alive in man, is prayer." The profoundly religious philosopher, Gustav Theodor Fechner, says in his impressive way: "Take prayer out of the world and it is as if you had torn asunder the bond that binds humanity to God, and had struck dumb the tongue of the child in the presence of his Father." C. P. Tiele, one of the founders of the science of comparative religion, expressed . . .

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