BY TIMOTHY KELLER
Dr. Timothy Keller is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, a church that has helped launch more than 250 other churches in 48 cities around the world. Keller’s books have passed the million mark in sales.
Prayer, his 2014 release, is written with a pastor’s heart to help both people who have been praying all their lives to deepen their prayer lives, and to open the storehouse of prayer to those who seldom have prayed in their lives.
Drawing from classic and often-quoted works by Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, Keller builds on historical wisdom about prayer a practical and insightful understanding of the whole realm of prayer as access to the power, character, unlimited resources and merciful love of our Heavenly Father.
Although he discusses the “lists” of how and why and when to pray written by many pray-ers who have had a long history with God, Keller insists, nonetheless, that “rule of prayer simply doesn’t exist.” Instead, he provides a helpful discussion about what prayer is and isn’t, what it requires, not what it gives.
He says prayer is “work,” meaning that we do it whether we feel like it or not, an obedience and a discipline at first, that soon turns into a comfortable conversation with God. Just as conversation with a stranger is awkward at first, the more time we spend together and really get to know each other, what pleases and what offends, the more at ease we become until, eventually, we can relax in the knowing that, as awesome and grand as God is, grace makes a huge space for us to meet in freedom and also respect.
Indeed, the more awesome we realize God is and the farther we back up the camera from our selfish needs, the more helpless we feel and the more aware of our flaws. But also, the more aware we become of our need for grace and mercy, the more aware we become that His grace and mercy are because of an even greater love. So we come to “dwell” in that safe space Jesus has made wide open on the bridge between (can you believe it?) this magna God and our daily human needs. It’s sort of an invitation to dance with great freedom and joy on the bridge!
Suffice it to say that Keller then begins to expand the horizons of those who would pray by opening up new and fresh vistas of prayer like meditation (which he describes as a conversation in which we listen with our eyes on the other Speaker and pay attention), trusting (that we can “seek His face”), praise (which is returning the joy, thanks, adoration) to God, intimacy (the secular world doesn’t have a clue about this!), and asking for help when we struggle.
The bibliography of prayer resources found in the footnotes reference in the back of this book is a treasure all by itself. And I would especially recommend this resource to anyone who leads others in discovering prayer. Maybe it would be best to pray one’s way through this book, and that adventure would be even better if shared with two or three who agree together to touch the heart of God.