Petition and Praise from Abraham to Nehemiah

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“No single practice more clearly defines a religion than the act of praying” (Miller, introduction). This course will examine prayers in the Old Testament and through them come to understand the theology of God on which prayer is based. It will examine the transformation of prayer, particularly the move from lament to penitential prayer as it is found in the post exilic period. The course will situate prayers of the Hebrew Scriptures within their ancient near eastern culture of prayer and within the Old Testament world. Particular attention will be given to prayer in relation to temple ritual. The student will come away with an understanding of the practice of prayer and the theology of prayer through the centuries of Old Testament Scriptures.


  • The similarities and differences of prayer between Israel and the nations around it
  • The diversity, development, and function of prayer throughout the Old Testament period
  • The terminology, forms, gestures, times, and places of prayer in the Old Testament
  • The understanding of God and people that makes prayer effectual


  • Learning to relate to God through the various modes, times, and places of prayer
  • Having an expectation of a personal mystical encounter in relationship with God (a sense that God indeed hears our prayers)
  • Knowing that prayer is a vital indicator of the nature of our faith


  • Expanding the ways in which we pray and reasons for our prayers
  • Exploring more of the ways in which we see God’s response to our prayers
  • Pondering the prayers of the Bible and how we may continually learn more about prayer
  • Countering the tendency of our society to reduce all of reality to one level of knowledge and denying the efficacy of knowledge outside that of the natural world of the senses