I have found two things to be almost universally true in my Christian life and the lives of other Christians. First, I know prayer is an incredible privilege – communion with the Living God of the universe has been made possible through the reconciling work of Christ on the Cross. Second, I am generally dissatisfied by my prayer life – both in terms of consistency and content. The disconnect between these two truths bother me greatly. Often books on prayer can lead me to feel guilty about not praying more (“well, you know, this one great missionary used to pray every morning from 4am until noon), or they can seem too formulaic, or even anti-Christian in their forms and patterns of prayer.
Few pastors and authors today have been able to understand the times and the concerns of modern western people like Tim Keller. In characteristic fashion, Keller explores his topics (in this case prayer) through the dual lens of contemporary culture and historical depth. There is a richness to his writing and his thoughts that speak to our busy lives while leading us on a path to deeper exploration of awe and intimacy with God.
This book is divided into five parts:
- Desiring Prayer – Where Keller acknowledges humanities need to connect with God through prayer, and us humans have gone about the pursuit of prayer.
- Understanding Prayer – Where Keller digs deep into the Bible’s understanding of prayer, with an emphasis on Word centered prayer.
- Learning Prayer – Where Keller takes the reader on a historical journey through the teaching on prayer by giants of the faith such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Owen, and ultimately Jesus’ teaching in the Lord’s Prayer
- Deepening Prayer – Where Keller explores examples and patterns of going deeper in our prayers through biblical examples found in the psalms, in Jesus’ own life, and elsewhere in the Bible.
- Doing Prayer – Where Keller gets down to the practical patterns of daily prayer found in various Christian faith traditions, along with ideas and suggestions for the reader to pursue in their own prayer life.
Takeaway: This is a book I plan on returning to and thinking on more. If you have not read a book on prayer, or if you’re looking to read one with depth and richness, then this is the book for you.