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Prayer in Scripture and in the Christian Life

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Syllabus

Catalog Description of the Course

A study of the progressive biblical revelation on prayer and evaluation of prayer practices and teaching in the light of Scripture. 2 hours.

Purposes of the Course

This course should enable you to know what the Bible teaches about prayer, to feel a greater love and appreciation for God, and to adopt a more biblical lifestyle of prayer.

Instructional Objectives

You should be able to do the following things at the end of this course.

    1. Explain what prayer is and what it is not.

    2. Describe and differentiate eight kinds of prayer.

    3. Explain how prayer relates to 18 religious practices that people properly or improperly link with prayer.

    4. Identify the significant new revelations concerning prayer in the Bible.

    5. Appreciate the direct relationship between a person’s perspective of God and his or her prayers.

    6. Differentiate the bases upon which people approached God in prayer in various periods of history.

    7. Explain the significance of the methods and forms people use in praying.

    8. List the characteristics of prayer in various periods of history.

    9. Identify the major concerns about which people have prayed in various periods of history.

    10. Offer scriptural explanations for the apparent contradictions to other biblical teachings that prayer raises.

    11. Explain why God does not answer some prayers.

    12. Enumerate the conditions for having one’s prayers answered.

    13. Evaluate selected extrabiblical literature on prayer in view of the scriptural teaching.

    14. Appreciate the consistency of biblical teaching on prayer.

    15. Feel relief over the resolution of apparent theological and practical problems connected with prayer.

    16. Communicate with God in prayer more effectively.

    17. Enjoy a more intimate personal relationship with God.

    18. Think creatively about prayer.

    19. Appreciate more fully how God is answering your prayers.

    20. Gain more insight into the condition of your own heart.

    21. Clarify your attitudes and feelings about prayers.

    22. Appreciate more fully the relationship between prayer and spiritual power.

    23. Gain deeper insight into prayer from the writings of others.

    24. Synthesize various aspects of the study of prayer.

Course Requirements

    Class Attendance

Attend as many meetings of the class as possible and participate in class discussions. Your first three absences from class are excused. Each absence beyond three will result in a reduction in your final grade for the course. Three tardies equal one absence. If you miss more than 10 minutes of a class, you should count yourself absent. Record the completion of this assignment on the course schedule below. Report the fulfillment of this requirement on the “Assignments Report” sheet (the last page of this syllabus) at the end of the course.

    Textbook Reading

You will need to read a copy of Talking to God: What the Bible Teaches about Prayer by Thomas L. Constable. This book is currently out of print, but you will receive a copy as a handout in class.

Please read the section of the book dealing with the subject(s) assigned for the next class period before coming to that class so you can participate in the discussion of that subject. You may give yourself half credit for each reading assignment you completed by the end of the course if you did not complete it before the class period when it was due. Keep a record of the textbook reading assignments you complete on the course schedule below. Mark “1” beside each assignment you completed on time or “1/2” beside each one you did not complete on time but which you completed by the end of the course. You will need to report the total number on the “Assignments Report” sheet at the end of the course.

    Praying

Spend at least 1/2 hour per day, at least 6 days per week, in concentrated, private prayer during this semester. This is to be praying that you do while concentrating on nothing else. Praying done in prayer meetings can count toward the fulfillment of this requirement but not praying while you are driving or doing anything else that divides your attention. Record the completion of this assignment each week on the course schedule below. If you did not complete the total assignment for the week, you should give yourself no credit for this assignment for that week. You need complete only one hour, instead of three, the first week of the course. This is the most important assignment in the course. Each prayer assignment that you do on time will receive double credit. Report the fulfillment of this requirement on the “Assignments Report” sheet at the end of the course.

    Other Assignments

You may select which and how many of these assignments you want to do for this course. These are due at class time on the due date. A list of these assignments and the specified due dates of some of them follows below. It is a good idea to copy each assignment before you turn it in just in case it gets lost. Please put the name of the assignment on it before you turn it in. This will save the grader time recording your grades, and it will help him or her record your grades accurately. You may turn in assignments early, but I recommend that you do not. The grader will probably hold early papers and grade all of them when they are due. The assignment might get set aside and lost if you turn it in early.

Keep a record of the assignments you turn in, when you turn them in, and the grade you earned for each one on the course schedule below. This will help you make sure you get proper credit if the grader should make an error recording your grades.

Include in these assignments all information needed to fulfill them including biblical data and advocates of viewpoints where appropriate. Present all sides of an issue when this is appropriate to the assignment. Organize your thoughts carefully before you begin writing. Present your data clearly, concisely, completely, and correctly in any form appropriate to the assignment (essay, chart, diagram, etc.). You may write your papers by hand if you cannot type, but they must be legible and double spaced. “Course papers must conform as nearly as possible to thesis style as presented in the latest edition of A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian and to any additional instructions authorized by the faculty” (Student Handbook, p. 23). Additional instructions authorized by the faculty include the Supplement to Turabian available in the Book Center.

Be careful not to plagiarize the work of someone else. Plagiarism is the act of taking and passing off as one’s own the ideas and writing of another. Plagiarism is a sin because it is a form of stealing and lying.

Depending on the grade you want to earn in this course, you may do any combination of the following assignments, those with specified dates due and those with unspecified due dates.

Assignments with Specified Due Dates

A short paper on imprecatory prayers. Research in the Bible and in other reference books and answer the questions that follow. Use 4 to 6 pages of paper. DUE Sept. 24.

a. What is an imprecatory prayer?

b. Cite several examples of imprecatory prayers in the Bible with Scripture references.

c. Why has the presence of imprecatory prayers in the Bible been a source of discomfort to Christians?

d. Give your solution(s) to the problem(s) of imprecatory prayers just mentioned in answer to question c above.

A short paper on vows and signs. Research in the Bible and in other reference books and answer the questions below. Use 4 to 6 pages of paper. DUE Oct. 8.

a. What is a vow as the Bible uses the term?

b. Why should a Christian make vows to God or why should a Christian not make vows to God?

c. Should a Christian request signs from God? Why or why not?

A summarizing chart. Make a chart on two sheets of paper (any size) condensing the most important data in chapters 4 and 5 of the textbook from your viewpoint. DUE Oct. 31.

A short paper on God changing His mind. Research in the Bible and elsewhere and explain the references in Scripture to God changing His mind in response to prayer. Use 4 to 6 pages of paper. DUE Dec. 5.

A short paper on prayer requests. Research from the Bible and explain what God has commanded and encouraged Christians to pray for with Scriptural references. Use 4 to 6 pages of paper. DUE Dec. 10.

A creative writing project. Research and write an article suitable for submission to Kindred Spirit in 900-1100 words entitled “The Main Reason Prayers Go Unanswered” or “How to Get Your Prayers Answered.” DUE Dec. 12.

A prayer diary. Compose a prayer diary or journal in which you record your prayer requests and God’s answers as well as your thoughts about prayer as this course progresses. Try to make regular entries during the weeks of this course. Write the diary in any form that you can turn in for reading and evaluation. For some values of this exercise and “how tos” see “Keeping a Personal Development Journal” by Janet Carter in Christian Single (January 1984), pp. 30-31. DUE Dec. 12.

Assignments with Unspecified Due Dates

You may turn in these assignments any class period. The last possible time to turn them in is by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 20, but they will be graded down for lateness if you turn them in after the last class period on December 12.

A book report. Read one or more books on prayer, and write a 3 to 4 page report on each book. These may be books in the course bibliography or other books. I recommend especially the books in the Select Annotated Bibliography in the textbook.

You may want to discuss with me a book that you are considering reading before you begin reading it. I may be able to warn you away from some that might be unprofitable for you to read. The annotations in the course bibliography may provide similar help.

A minimum of 100 pages of reading is required for one assignment. Your written report(s) will be the basis for your grade. A good book report should include interaction with the significant ideas and emphases that the writer presented. It should also include perceptive evaluation of the content of the book and the author’s presentation from a biblical perspective plus an explanation of the help you received from reading it. You may do as many of these book reports as you desire. Each 100 pages read counts as one assignment.

A research paper. Write one or more research papers (1250-2500 words each) in which you present the results of your independent study of some aspect of prayer that is of special interest to you. I must approve your subject before you begin your research. One reason for this is so you do not attempt too much. Include a bibliography of all sources used in your research. You may do as many of these research papers as you desire. Each one counts as one assignment.

A creative project. You may propose a project to me that you may do by yourself or with one or more other students in this course. This could be an audio and or visual production suitable for use with a particular audience. It must communicate some aspect of the biblical teaching concerning prayer. Some creative projects may be appropriate for class presentation.

A seminar. You may attend a seminar on prayer that I approve and write an evaluative report of it. Your evaluation should include the same things mentioned in the book report assignment above.

Written prayers. You may write out at least 10 original prayers of praise based on at least 10 attributes of God, one prayer per attribute. These prayers should each be about 250 words long. These 10 or more prayers will constitute one assignment.

Course Grading

You will decide what grade you want to earn in this course and do the assignments required for that grade. This is the contract method of grading with modifications explained below.

Here is an explanation of the quantity and quality of written assignments and creative projects required to receive a final letter grade.

To earn an A turn in 7 assignment credits that together average “excellent.”

To earn a B turn in 6 assignment credits that together average “excellent” or 7 assignment credits that together average “very good.”

To earn a C turn in 5 assignment credits that together average “excellent” or 6 assignment credits that together average “very good” or 7 assignment credits that together average “good.”

To earn a D turn in 4 assignment credits that together average “excellent” or 5 assignment credits that together average “very good” or 6 assignment credits that together average “good.”

If you did 6 assignments and got “excellent” on 3 and “very good” on 3, your average would be “excellent.” Tie goes to the student.

To compute your average grade for all the assignments you turned in, assign a number to each assignment grade as follows: E = 3, VG = 2, G = 1. Add these numbers and divide by your total number of acceptable assignments. 3 to 2.5 = E, 2.49 to 1.50 = VG, 1.49 to 1 = G. Do not calculate your final grade by assigning a numerical value to each assignment grade and totaling these numbers because you need to earn the specified number of assignment credits to qualify for your final grade.

Your written assignments and creative projects will be graded on the basis of the thoroughness of your research and your presentation of the material. Each of these will receive one of the following grades.

Excellent means you did the assignment extremely well and there is little that could improve it.

Very good means that you have dealt with all the elements you should have dealt with effectively. It is a solid example of good work.

Good means it was adequate to fulfill the assignment. It may not be as complete, full, well thought out, well organized, well produced, or neat as it could have been, but it is an adequate treatment.

Unacceptable means it is below master’s level quality for any number of reasons. These reasons include incompleteness, missing the point of the assignment, superficiality, or sloppiness.

I want to encourage you to work together with another student in preparing your written assignments and creative projects. Our tendency is to become increasingly individualistic in seminary whereas in ministry it is essential that we work effectively with other people. Therefore I will give you 1 and 1/2 credits for an assignment that you do in pairs rather than 1 credit, which you will receive if you do the assignment acceptably by yourself. Your partner may be anyone enrolled in this course including an auditor. However, your partner may not be your spouse unless he or she is officially enrolled in this course too. If you do an assignment with a partner, you must identify each person who contributed to it by name on the assignment. You must also explain the process that you went through in producing the assignment together. If you have differing views on the subject dealt with in the assignment, you must explain and defend each person’s position. You must not divide the assignment, each do a part, and then combine the parts to form one paper. You must each do the whole assignment, then get together and compare your work and conclusions, and finally produce the final product.

Your grade for an assignment may be lowered for any of the following reasons. You may have failed to demonstrate that you have done inductive and or deductive research in assignments that require this. That you have done such research should be evident in the body of the assignment and in the bibliography at the end, where you must identify the sources you used in preparing the assignment. You may have failed to include needed information including biblical data where appropriate. You may have failed to present all sides of an issue where appropriate to the assignment. You may have failed to organize your thoughts and to present your information orderly and concisely. You may have failed to explain something clearly. The grader will write on the assignment any reason for a grade reduction so you will be able to do better in future assignments.

Contact the grader if you have a question about a grade or a comment that he or she has written on one of your assignments when you get it back. If you still have a question after talking with him or her, see me.

I will accept written assignments with specified due dates up to two class periods late, except those due the final week of classes. However if you submit one late, the assignment grade will be one category lower for lateness (e.g., from E to VG). If you want to turn in one of these assignments after it is due (after class time), turn it in the following class period. You will not gain any advantage by bringing it to my office.

In our grading system at DTS we give pluses and minuses as well as straight letter grades. Your fulfilling the course assignments to attend class, read the textbook, and pray will affect your final grade. This will determine whether you get a straight letter grade, a plus, or a minus. The final grade may suffer in cases of extreme negligence to these requirements. To earn a + on your final letter grade, you must complete a total of at least 77 class attendances, textbook reading assignments, and prayer assignments as required. The complete requirements follow below.

The total number of class attendances, textbook reading assignments, and prayer assignments you complete on time appear at the left below, and the grade adjustment appears to its right. Each prayer assignment is worth twice as much as each textbook reading assignment and each class attendance assignment.

        80-77

        + added to the final letter grade

        76-71

        straight letter grade

        70-65

        - added to the final letter grade

        64-59

        final grade lowered one letter

        58-53

        final grade lowered two letters

        52-47

        final grade lowered three letters

        46-0

        final grade lowered four letters

You must receive an extension from the Credits Committee of the faculty through the Registrar’s office before the end of the course if you need time beyond December 20 to complete the course requirements. See the Student Handbook for course extension policies.

Course Schedule

Mark a check for each class period you attend, and write a “1” or “1/2” beside each textbook reading assignment you complete on the course schedule below. Check in the prayer column only if you have completed 3 hours of private praying the week preceding that class period (1 hour the first week). You will receive double credit for each prayer assignment you complete on time. I also suggest that you write in the other assignments that you do as you complete them. The blank spaces in the last column are for this purpose. This will help you keep track of all the assignments you have completed so you can report this at the end of the course on the “Assignments Report” sheet and receive proper credit. Please do not turn in this class schedule. It is only for your convenience in keeping track of how many and which assignments you have completed satisfactorily.

Date

Class

Period

Class

Attend.

Class Content

Text

Prayer

Other

Assigns.

8-27

1

_____

Introduction to course

     

8-29

2

_____

Why Christians

don’t pray more

_____

_____

_____

9-3

3

_____

The subject and

definition of prayer

_____

 

_____

9-5

4

_____

The varieties of prayer

_____

_____

_____

9-10

5

_____

The varieties of prayer

_____

 

_____

9-12

6

_____

The varieties of prayer

_____

_____

_____

9-17

7

_____

The varieties of prayer

_____

 

_____

9-19

8

_____

The varieties of prayer

_____

_____

_____

9-24

9

_____

The varieties of prayer

_____

 

_____

9-26

10

_____

Prayer and

spiritual power

_____

_____

_____

10-1

11

_____

Practices associated

with prayer

_____

 

_____

10-3

12

_____

Practices associated

with prayer

_____

_____

_____

10-8

13

_____

Practices associated

with prayer

_____

 

_____

10-10

14

_____

Prayer in the

Old Testament

_____

_____

_____

10-15

15

_____

Prayer in the

Old Testament

_____

 

_____

10-17

16

_____

Prayer in the

Old Testament

_____

_____

_____

10-22

17

_____

Prayer in the

New Testament

_____

 

_____

10-24

18

_____

Prayer in the

New Testament

_____

_____

_____

10-29

19

_____

Prayer in the

New Testament

_____

 

_____

10-31

20

_____

Prayer in the

New Testament

_____

_____

_____

11-5

21

_____

Class period devoted to prayer

_____

 

_____

11-7

22

_____

Prayer in the

pastoral ministry

_____

_____

_____

11-12

23

_____

Theological problems

involving prayer

_____

 

_____

11-14

24

_____

Theological problems

involving prayer

_____

_____

_____

11-19 &21

   

No Classes

Reading Week

     

11-26 &28

   

No Classes

Thanksgiving Recess

     

12-3

25

_____

Theological problems

involving prayer

_____

 

_____

12-5

26

_____

Theological problems

involving prayer

_____

_____

_____

12-10

27

_____

Practical problems

involving prayer

_____

 

_____

12-12

28

_____

Conditions for

answered prayer

_____

_____

_____

Bibliography

I have prepared a lengthy annotated bibliography of books on prayer that is much too long to include in this syllabus. You will receive it as a handout in class.

Assignments Report

Instructions. You must turn in this sheet and all work for this course no later than 4:30 p.m. Friday, December 20. You must fill this sheet out completely and turn it in to receive a final grade and credit for this course. Total the checks you have made on the class attendance, text, and prayer columns on the course schedule to provide the following information. The prayer assignments will receive double credit, but record here only the number of prayer assignments you completed by class time each week. You do not need to report the other assignments that you did since I already have a record of that.

After checking my class attendance record in column 3 of the course schedule above, I can report that I was present for the following number of class periods: _____.

After totaling all the 1s and 1/2s in column 5 of the course schedule above, I can report that I completed the following total number of textbook reading assignments: _____. (Do not write “all” or any other word but the exact number.)

After totaling all the checks in column 6 of the course schedule above, I can report that I completed the following total number of private prayer assignments on time this semester: _____.

I affirm that the information above is true and complete.

Name (please print) ________________________________________ Box _________

Each time I teach a course I try to improve it. What did you like about this course and what did you dislike? How could I make it more enjoyable and profitable in your opinion?

Please attach a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you would like me to mail your final grade and any not yet returned written assignments to you. Otherwise these will come back to you through your Student Information Center box.

Related Topics: Prayer, Basics for Christians