Prayer as God knowledge (via self)

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What is the purpose of prayer? According to Kierkegaard, “prayer does not change God, but it changes the one who prays.” Whilst much contemporary philosophy of religion focuses on the so-called puzzle of petitionary prayer, less is written about how prayer can change the person who prays. In this paper, I discuss Kierkegaard’s account of prayer in The Sickness unto Death and “An Occasional Discourse on the Occasion of Confession.” Prayer, as it is presented here, allows a person to gain a certain kind of self-knowledge and thereby draw near to God. After outlining Kierkegaard’s account, I draw some comparisons with Harry Frankfurt’s account of the will to demonstrate how prayer might allow for both self-knowledge as well as God-knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-114
Number of pages14
JournalKierkegaard Studies Yearbook
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2017


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