The writing of prayers in the African American church.

Date of Award


Document Type



Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Prayer has always been the cornerstone of the African American church. Prayer in conjunction with tribal ritual, and spirit-filled preaching, kept hope alive for Africans of the Diaspora in the Americas, despite the overwhelming challenges and obstacles they encountered. The prohibition against education, and the restrictions against gathering in mass, could not prevent the African in America, from praying to the Divine Presence. Perhaps, the Holy One of their original prayers was not the God they later came to know however, communication with that Presence, remained essential to the worship experience. Prayer was an indispensible element that provided African Americans the power to progress from a seemingly hopeless journey, to a destination of promise. Many worshippers, whom attend predominately African American churches, possess a negative attitude towards writing prayers for worship. The prevailing concern is that written prayers, lack the sincerity and spontaneity, of the traditional extemporaneous prayers. The challenge of the African American church today is, to reconnect with the past, while simultaneously maintaining an upward trajectory towards the future. The spiritual discipline of writing prayers for worship can become that vehicle of reconnection. This shift towards writing prayers need not come at the expense of the oral tradition; they can coexist. However, given the complex variety of concerns facing African American worshippers, the writing of prayers as a spiritual discipline, may help focus our pleading before God. Therefore, the challenge confronting my community of concern is to appreciate the value, in writing prayers as a spiritual discipline.