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Werline encourages us to look at prayer in the following way: to attempt to understand how prayers are tied to particular cultural and social settings. Prayers are part of and expressions of a collection of cultural ideas that have been arranged within a system that seems coherent and obvious to those writings the biblical texts. Prayers participate in and express a person's worldview. Werline shows the ways that - though many biblical prayers are familiar to us - biblical texts and contemporary readers come from different worlds. The Hebrew Bible and the New Testament contain many prayers. Large volumes have been written on prayer within a single book, or within the writings of one author, like Paul, or an individual prayer, such as the Lord's Prayer. Werline does not examine every prayer in the Bible or even write exhaustively on a single prayer. He has highlighted a few significant features of each prayer, and some of the prayers vividly exhibit the influence of a particular society's vision. For example, he examines the prayers of 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles because of the ways they are tightly tied to the authors' views of history.
The writers' interpretation of history profoundly influenced significant portions of the Bible as well as the literature of early Judaism.
Rodney A. Werline is Senior Minister, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Greensboro, NC and the co-editor of For A Later Generation.