In her introduction to the March 2013 issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion—which features a special forum on prayer—editor Laura R. Olson highlights the SSRC’s New Directions in the Study of Prayer project as an important stimulant of new interdisciplinary research on this topic:
Our special forum on prayer marks the first in what we hope will be a recurring series of in-depth analyses of emerging issues, theories, and methods in the scientific study of religion. The study of prayer is a growth industry in our field at the present moment. Some scholars are asking how, where, and why prayer is offered; others wonder how it affects those who pray and are prayed for. The Social Science Research Council has undertaken a broad-based project on prayer that promises to stimulate new research crossing disciplinary boundaries and drawing upon a wide range of methods. I might assert that nothing about religion could simultaneously be more personal and more collective than the practice of prayer. Shane Sharp opens the forum by exploring the question of how we react when our prayers go unanswered, basing his analysis on in-depth interviews with people who have experienced intimate partner violence. R. David Hayward and Neal Krause ask how our prayer practices change in older adulthood; they show that we do pray more, and differently, as older adults. To close the forum, Markus Schafer adapts social network theory to determine whether we become more optimistic when close friends and family members pray for us.
Access this special forum on prayer here [Note: Subscriber access is required].