New Directions in the Study of Prayer Grantee Tanya Luhrmann’s book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship With God, was named one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2012. As Molly Worthen wrote in an early 2012 review of the book:
After more than four years of observing and interviewing Vineyard members, and participating in prayer groups, Bible study and weekly worship, Luhrmann arrived at a simple but arresting hypothesis: Evangelicals believe in an intimate God who talks to them personally because their churches coach them in a new theory of mind. In these communities, religious belief is “more like learning to do something than to think something. . . . People train the mind in such a way that they experience part of their mind as the presence of God.” Luhrmann is hardly the first to interpret religious feeling through the lens of psychology. This line of analysis goes back to William James and the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher, and today the scientific study of prayer is a growing field. Yet “When God Talks Back” is remarkable for combining creative psychological analysis with a commitment to understanding evangelicals not merely as a scholar’s specimens, but on their own terms. The result is the most insightful study of evangelical religion in many years.