Prayer by Timothy Keller

In my opinion, prayer is undoubtedly the most bewildering concept in Christianity – or any religion I guess. If you just take a few minutes and really think about what prayer actually claims to be, it is quite outstanding. Obviously, there are countless ways to define prayer but essentially it is speaking to the all-powerful creator of the universe. That means you are getting undivided attention from the entity that has created everything, the one who has been around for eternity. Honestly, is that not a weird concept?

How do you speak to God? What can I say to God that He does not already know? How can my simple, little, finite mind find the gall to ask something from God?

Prayer is not simple. It is not just us asking wishes from a genie. God demands us to pray thus we should pray. Prayer is time with God and time with God shapes us. Adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication are all aspects of our prayers.

I have read a few books on prayer, and none have been satisfying. Though I love Timothy Keller and I think he is a gifted Christian thinker and writer, his book on prayer left me unfulfilled. Keller is very smart and he is one of the few Christian authors that does great research and cites multiple theologians without getting grandiose and obnoxious. However, I think I tried to approach this book from a secular or novice mindset and I quickly became exhausted. I felt thrown from procedural understanding to anecdotal prayers when I wanted to find something in the middle.

Maybe the answer I am looking for is just wrong. Prayer is presented in two seemingly opposite ways: it is an intimate conversation with God while also being a meager peasant approaching the great throne of the Father. I think deep down I do not want the answer to simply be both. It feels like a lazy cop out, but when the subtitle says “awe” and “intimacy” I should not expect different.

Luckily, I believe striving to find God even as a Christian is part of the journey, and I do believe in a God that accepts broken, uncertain, seeking people. I think this quote from Keller sums it up perfectly,

“Christians lack the spiritual capacity to realize all we have in Jesus”