Today, May 2, is the National Day of Prayer.
To commemorate this special day in which people of faith acknowledge the importance of prayer in their lives, The New York Times (of all places) has an Op-Ed contribution by T. M. Luhrmann in which he writes about God speaking to people audibly.
Mr. Luhrmann is a professor of anthropology at Stanford. She is the author of the book When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship With God.
Luhrmann’s article is based on an ethnographic field work conducted in a charismatic evangelical church in Chicago. She interviewed several people who claim that God spoke to them audibly.
Luhrmann wrote: “I started to ask people in the church more systematically about whether they had ever heard God speak audibly. About a third said yes. They reported odd auditory events in which God said ‘Sit and listen’ or ‘Read James’ or ‘I will always love you.’”
She concludes his article by emphasizing the importance of prayer for people of faith:
The more interesting lesson is what it tells us about the mind and prayer. If hearing a voice is associated with focused attention to the inner senses – hearing with the mind’s ear, seeing with the mind’s eye – it suggests that prayer (which today, the National Day of Prayer, celebrates) is a pretty powerful instrument. We often imagine prayer as a practice that affects the content of what we think about – our moral aspirations, or our contrition. It’s probably more accurate to understand prayer as a skill that changes how we use our minds.
Luhrmann has written an interesting article that deserves to be read on this National Day of Prayer. You can read the article here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
In an earlier version of this post, I used a “he” to identify Luhrmann. However, as Mark Roberts called my attention in his comment below, T. M. Luhrmann is a woman; her name is Tanya M. Luhrmann. I apologize for my mistake.