, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 365-378
Date: 03 Nov 2011

God as Thou and Prayer as Dialogue: Martin Buber’s Tools for Reconciliation

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Abstract

‘Prayer’ can be defined as ‘the offering, in public worship or private devotion, of petition, confession, adoration, or thanksgiving to God; also the form of words in which such an offering is made’ (cf. Cohn-Sherbok 2010). In addition to this simple definition it could be said that there are different forms of prayer: some are vocal and articulate and others are only mental in nature; some prayers are communal and liturgical and other prayers are spontaneous or at least composed by the one saying the prayer (cf. Stump 1999). Accordingly, it is evident that there are manifold intricacies involved in any characterisation of ‘prayer’. In this article my aims are twofold. First, I explore the implications of Martin Buber’s philosophy, particularly of his conception of God as Thou for our understanding of ‘prayer’; second, I will argue that Buber’s understanding of ‘prayer’ as dialogue serves as a way for the individual to seek reconciliation with itself, with others, and with God.