Prayer is an important religious practice that is rarely studied from the perspective of politics – and yet it should be. Though some forms of Protestantism teach that prayer should be individual and private, this is an exception rather than a rule. In many other religions and cultures, the regulation of collective and public prayer cannot be separated from the complex world of politics. Where is prayer allowed, and where not? Who can participate, and who can’t? How should you pray – and how shouldn’t you? Prayer is subject to a host of both written and unwritten political rules. From the Pentecostal religious battle – where prayer is both sword and shield against the Satanic Other – to the relations between Islam and Christianity, prayer as spiritual warfare can be found cross-culturally and across the world. This book brings together case studies of the political salience of prayer in Nigeria, France, India, Russia, and the United States. It deals with Christian, Muslim, and Hindu practices. In a world where religious tensions are ever-present, it reminds us of the intensely political nature of prayer. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Religious and Political Practice.
Table of Contents
Introduction Peter van der Veer
1. The politics of prayer books: Delegated intercession, names, and community boundaries in the Russian Orthodox Church Sonja Luehrmann
2. Prayer and pedagogy: Redefining education among Salafist Muslim women in France Z. Fareen Parvez
3. Creation of social space through prayers among Dalits in Kerala, India Sanal Mohan
4. Mimetic failure: Politics, prayer and possession Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi
5. The Muslim response to the Pentecostal surge in Nigeria: Prayer and the rise of charismatic Islam Ebenezer Obadare
6. Destroying arguments and captivating thoughts: Spiritual warfare prayer as global praxis Ruth Marshall
7. The militarization of prayer in America: White and Native American spiritual warfare Elizabeth McAlister
Peter van der Veer is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen, Germany. He is also Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University, the Netherlands. He has published widely about religion and nationalism in Asia and Europe. His latest book is The Value of Comparison (2016).