In Thinking Prayer, Andrew Prevot presents a new, integrated approach to Christian theology and spirituality, focusing on the centrality of prayer to theology in the modern age. Prevot’s clear and in-depth analysis of notable philosophical and theological thinkers’ responses to modernity through the theme of prayer charts a new spiritual path through the crises of modernity.
Prevot offers critical interpretations of Martin Heidegger, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Johann Baptist Metz, Ignacio Ellacuría, and James Cone, among others, integrating their insights into a constructive synthesis. He explains how doxological and contemplative forms of prayer help one avoid dangers associated with metaphysics, including nihilism, conceptual idolatry, and the concealment of difference. He considers the powerful impact that the prayers of oppressed peoples have on their efforts to resist socioeconomic and racialized violence. The book upholds modern aspirations to critical freedom, while arguing that such freedom can best be preserved and deepened through prayerful interactions with the infinite freedom of God. Throughout, the book uncovers the contemplative dimensions of postmodern phenomenology and liberation theology and suggests how prayer shapes liberative ways of thinking (theology) and living (spirituality) that are crucial for the future of this crisis-ridden world.
“Andrew Prevot presents a range of theological and philosophical interlocutors with a depth of scholarly knowledge that makes the reading of these pages an engaging tour of the last eighty years of theological and philosophical thought. There is insightful analysis of the text’s announced focus on prayer, a theme that is usually addressed in popular books on practical theology but rarely in a sophisticated monograph like the present work. The impressive achievement of Thinking Prayer is the sweeping range of its scholarship, presented in interpretive sophistication and communicated in flourishing style.” — John Thiel, author of Icons of Hope: The “Last Things” in Catholic Imagination
“Drawing on an impressive range of theological and philosophical sources, Andrew Prevot argues for the indispensability of prayer to both Christian theology and social praxis. He insists that, more specifically, Christian theology and social praxis must be rooted in the ‘spirituality that emerges from the prayerful struggles of many Christian communities of the poor and oppressed.’ Such a preferential option for the poor itself demands a reintegration of theology and spirituality. The sustained intellectual rigor, spiritual depth, and prophetic courage of this scholarship will no doubt establish Prevot as a leading voice among a new generation of Christian theologians.” — Roberto Goizueta, Margaret O’Brien Flatley Professor of Catholic Theology, Boston College
“This ambitious and ultimately successful book will fundamentally change how theologians understand prayer. Prevot handles the most complex philosophical and theological figures with skill, from Heidegger to Balthasar, from Cone to Marion. Writing about prayer tends to be fluffy or dismissive, but Prevot manages to be both rigorous and graceful. As the title advertises, this book brings together thought and prayer—lucidly, powerfully, and elegantly. It is a must-read for all theologians thinking and praying today.” — Vincent Lloyd, Syracuse University
“With clarity, breadth, and depth, Andrew Prevot reintroduces the subject of prayer within theology as the quest for a synthesis of prayer with thought. It is unusual for a scholar to dare—and to have the intellectual patience needed—to bring Hans Urs von Balthasar on doxology and his postmetaphysical interlocutors into nuanced engagement with German political theology, with Latin American liberation theology, but above all and to the greatest effect, with the heritage of the narratives and music of African American slaves as honored and interrogated by black theologian James Cone. Prevot proposes that prayer, thought in terms of doxology and liberation, can provide an effective protest against secularity and violence. This is an unusually good book that should be widely read and discussed.” — Bradford Hinze, Karl Rahner, S.J., Professor of Theology, Fordham University
“Thinking Prayer is a passionate manifesto. Through subtle, discriminating readings of an impressive range of contemporary philosophers and theologians, Andrew Prevot argues that the practice of Christian prayer can point us beyond the intellectual and moral crises of modernity. At the same time, he moves forward Christian theological discussion with a new exuberance and rigor." — Philip Endean, S.J., author of Karl Rahner and Ignatian Spirituality
“To the reader’s delight, the book is beautifully written. . . an impressive achievement in the sweeping range and sophistication of its scholarship, communicated in flourishing style. . . . Readers who take Prevot’s tour of modernity will be grateful for the journey and eager for future opportunities for travel with this author as their guide.” — Scottish Journal of Theology
College Theology Society Best Book in Theology Award for 2015