Course Memo

What a people believe about God influences how they praise, pray, and worship; how a people praise, pray, and worship influences what they believe about God. When Christians pray, they are speaking not only to God but to themselves, one another, the community, and the world. They recount the story of God's saving actions, describe their self-identities and struggles, express their aspirations, and nurture hope. Praying creates and cultivates multifaceted relationships between believers, God, creation, and others, articulating theology using poetry and prose, word and music. This course will begin by looking at how theological writers (ancient and modern) understand prayer as a dialogical relationship between God and humans. Applying methods of liturgical and ritual analysis, students will investigate how prayer integrates sacred scripture, personal/communal stories, daily life, and human hopes and aspirations. Theological reflection will help students better understand the connections between worship, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and communities of faith (liturgy, Christology, Pneumatology, and ecclesiology), offering theological perspectives for addressing modern questions concerning God, worship, and prayer. This course is designed for M.Div. students who will be leading and teaching about prayer, worship, and liturgy. M.A. students will explore how people make prayerful connections between their understanding of God, salvation, and their own lives. Ph.D. students will learn methods for discovering people’s/communities’ beliefs through analysis of their prayers and worship. Besides reading modern theologians and liturgical scholars, students will encounter a variety of liturgical texts (prayers, hymns, homilies) reflecting Eastern and Western Christian traditions, ranging from the 2nd century into the early 21st century. The course will be seminar format with occasional lectures. Students will write brief weekly reflections (2 pages), 2 short papers (5-8 pages), and a final synthesis paper (12-15 pages).