chapter  3
18 Pages

Pentecostal Prayer as Personal Communication and Invisible Institutional Work

ByYannick Fer

In the opening sections of his unfinished thesis on prayer published in 1909, Marcel Mauss described an historical movement of internalisation and individualisation of prayer, contrasting its ritual, institutional and collective forms with more personal practices. From his perspective, this evolution was in line with the transformation of the notion of the person into the 'category of the "self"'. A theological filiation links Pentecostalism to the eighteenth century Protestant movements mentioned by Mauss – especially the Wesleyan revival. They share a common quest for individual sanctification through a deepening of the personal relationship with God, so that Pentecostalism appears as 'an extension of Methodism and the Evangelical Revivals accompanying Anglo-American modernization'. Pentecostal prayer is indeed at the core of a well-grounded illusion which proclaims the primacy of personal experience over the truths of any church, while giving to this same church the responsibility of establishing and maintaining the communication with God, through institutional work destined to remain 'invisible'.