- Session 1.1: The Difficulty of Prayer
The MPR Course begins with a surprisingly honest evaluation of the obstacles to Jewish prayer. Students are moved by the discovery that clergy “get it.”
- Session 1.2: When Prayer "Works" & Mochin d'Gadlut
This critical lesson outlines a “spiritual dynamics” approach to learning prayer and facilitates the students’ setting of goals for the MPR Course.
- Session 1.3: Yearning: Psalms and the Stirrings of the Heart
We begin our studies by exploring the emotional sources of prayer. If gratitude prayers are a response to what is, yearning expresses a desire for what isn’t. We explore the nuances of yearning, appreciate the artistry of the Psalms, and ask, “How can prayer help us to channel desire into holy desire?”
- Session 1.4: The Life of Gratitude
Seeing the world as a cup “half full” is not a controversial idea. But the gap between knowledge and practice can be hard to bridge. In this session, we present the value and explore the means of cultivating a daily practice of gratitude.
- Session 2.1: Bringing Our Bodies into Prayer
Reflecting on current knowledge of the mind/body connection and the role of music in synagogue services, we learn the advantages of consciously involving our bodies in prayer, and new ways to do it.
- Session 2.2: Prayer as Practice
Together with “When Prayer Works and Mochin d’Gadlut,” this session relates the MPR approach to learning prayer and explores appropriate mind-sets for the deepening one’s prayer life.
- Session 2.3: The Art of Blessing
We learn the basics of blessings, beginning with the Baruch Ata formula and the role of blessings in Jewish liturgy. Using our spiritual dynamics approach, we ask, “What is the purpose of praying a blessing?”
- Session 2.4: Creating Sacred Space with Response Blessings
Unbeknownst to many, the vast majority of traditional blessings are said after an event and unconnected to ritual. We consider the value of “response” blessings, and following Martin Buber, explore the role of blessings in creating sacred space.
- Session 3.1: Mindfulness - Listen Before You Speak
A wise person listens before they speak, says the old adage, but rarely do daveners take the time to do so. For good reason. Listening to our hearts and to the world around us—listening for God—is a skill that relatively few have devoted time to refining. We study mindfulness with leading teachers from the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and we learn the basics of sacred, Hebrew chant with Rabbi Shefa Gold.
- Session 3.2: Tradition! The Benefits of Liturgical Prayer
We apply our spiritual dynamics approach to liturgical prayer. How does communal, traditional prayer connect us to God and otherwise “work” in ways that other modalities do not? We learn how the MPR contributors work with liturgy through various interpretative techniques.
- Session 3.3: Liturgy as Sacred Story
Exploring Joel Grishaver’s narrative approach to the Siddur, we consider the stories behind our tradition’s prayers, particularly the Shema, and how they affect our praying. We enter the Actor’s Studio to learn how we might be sacred actors in a sacred drama, speaking a holy script.
- Session 3.4: Understanding and Interpreting Liturgy
Using simple literary techniques, we analyze the Shema and her blessings as a unit before considering the meanings of monotheism and the various intentions one might bring to praying the Shema.
- Session 4.1: The Challenge of Personal Prayer
Unscripted prayer raises obstacles, from simple unfamiliarity to the serious questions about theology that can no long be avoided when composing one’s own prayers. We explore the obstacles to personal prayer, and offer strategies to overcome them.
- Session 4.2: Cultivating Your Personal Prayer Voice
We offer several modalities for students to discover or deepen the experience of personal, unscripted prayer.
- Session 4.3: Discerning Divinity
The elephant in the room, the issue of God’s response to prayer is often circumvented in liberal circles. The MPR contributor’s share their experience and their thinking. You might be surprised.
- Session 4.4: Teshuvah: Introspection for Change
Throughout the MPR Course we have been exploring the effects of prayer. Now we zero in on what many consider the key questions. How does prayer change us? What are the characteristics of life-changing prayer?
- Session 5.1: Exploring the Amidah
We learn and investigate the structure of the Amidah, focusing on the first three and the last three blessings in the rabbinic and mystical traditions. Then we explore our own interpretations.
- Session 5.2: The Amidah and Me
After studying the weekday intermediate blessings and learning the historical background, we return to the way people prayed in Talmudic times. Ending each blessing with the traditional formula, students create a personal Amidah.
- Session 5.3: Coping with Illness and Loss
Does prayer heal? The MPR contributors speak from the heart, and we offer prayer practices for healing.
- Session 5.4: Mourning & Kaddish
Rabbi Anne Brener explores the nuances of grief, and how prayer might catalyze the process. The MPR contributors speak about Kaddish and mourning.
Making Prayer Real Full Curriculum
A Unique Classroom Experience
The Making Prayer Real Course offers an innovative, spiritual dynamics approach to learning prayer and liturgy. Outstanding teachers are brought into the classroom via video, beginning a conversation that challenges students and draws them into dialogue with prayer, the Siddur, and each other. Skills are emphasized before theology as a workshop atmosphere is cultivated. As students explore numerous traditional and alternative prayer practices, they discover their preferences and abilities, crafting their own relationship to Jewish prayer as individuals and as members of the community.
License and Teach
The MPR Course Curriculum may be licensed for exclusive use in your synagogue, school, community center or other institution. The curriculum includes:
- Lesson plans with innovative ideas and tested methodologies.
- Traditional and alternative prayer practices.
- Video montages featuring outstanding teachers of Jewish spirituality.
- A video message to teachers from Rabbi Mike Comins on each lesson with general background and pedagogic advice.
- "Conversations" videos for community programming outside of a class on prayer.
Click on the Syllabus and Samples tabs above to see the MPR Course outline and sample videos.
Information on the session subjects, video topics and video contributors.
MPR Story and FAQs
Rabbi Mike Comins shares the history of the project and explains the logistics of teaching the curriculum.
Learn more about the innovative, MPR approach to teaching and learning prayer.
Teachers' Report and References
Connect with colleagues who have taught the MPR Course Curriculum.
To see a recording of an MPR Informational Webinar where Rabbi Mike Comins presents highlights of the Course Curriculum and takes questions, go to the Samples tab above.
The MPR Course materials are licensed to an institution for their exclusive use, and may be used in any normal activity sponsored by the community. They may not be copied or lent to other institutions.
The MPR Course Curriculum may be purchased as a whole or by individual modules. If purchasing by module, please register individually. Register on this page for the entire course.
Full Curriculum: $1,200
(all 5 Modules, $300 savings)
Small Congregation Discount
(under 300 member units)
Full Curriculum: $1,000
(All 5 Modules, $300 savings)
To receive the discount, apply the following code during check-out: 5777SM
Canadian and Very Small Congregation Discount
(under 100 member units)
Full Curriculum: $800
(all 5 Modules, $200 savings)
To receive the discount, apply the following code during check-out: 5777VS