One of the foundational practices of faith, prayer is an essential part of Christian life. But what is prayer? How does it work? Can we see its effects? Does science have anything to tell us about prayer? In this episode on prayer, Language of God producer Colin Hoogerwerf explores the relationship between science and prayer with Dr. David Myers, journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty, author Philip Yancey, and Dr. Jimmy Lin. They discuss a 1997 Harvard experiment meant to measure the effects of prayer, the findings of neurotheology, and why we should pray at all. By melding their personal prayer lives with their research, our guests find a more robust understanding of the sacred practice.
Read David Myers’ response to the Harvard Prayer Experiment here.
Read Mary Oliver’s poem Praying.
The Lord’s Prayer read by the BioLogos staff.
This episode of Language of God was produced by Colin Hoogerwerf. Additional help from Nate Mulder.
David Myers is Professor of Psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He is author of several widely used psychology textbooks and seventeen additional books. His advocacy for American adoption of better assistive listening systems for people with hearing loss has been recognized by several esteemed awards. Dr. Myers earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Iowa.
- Barbara Bradley Hagerty is a New York Times best-selling author and journalist. Her most recent book, Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife was published by Riverhead/Penguin in March 2016.Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality, was published by Riverhead/Penguin in May 2009. Barbara was a correspondent for NPR for 18 years, most recently covering religion. She received the American Women in Radio and Television Award (twice) for her religion reporting, as well as the National Headliners Award, and the Religion Newswriters Association Award. Before the religion beat, she was NPR’s Justice Department correspondent, where she, along with her colleagues, won the George Foster Peabody and Overseas Press Club awards for their coverage of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Barbara has a master’s degree in legal studies from Yale Law School, and a bachelors degree from Williams College.
Philip Yancey, author of books like Disappointment with God, The Jesus I Never Knew, and What’s So Amazing About Grace, is one of the best selling Christian authors alive today. His interactions with Christians from around the world and his early church experiences inform his writing on faith, the problem of pain, and unexpected grace. He holds graduate degrees in Communications and English from Wheaton College and the University of Chicago.
Jimmy Lin MD, PhD, MHS is Chief Scientific Officer, Oncology at Natera. He worked on the first genome-wide sequencing of human cancers, created and led the intramural clinical genomics program at the National Institutes of Health, and founded the Rare Genomics Institute. He has lectured around the world and his work has been covered by over 300 media outlets.