Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book Review-Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller

This is a book review I shared with my church family at Faith Reformed PCA, Erie PA.  I thought some of my blog followers might also be interested. 

Dear Faith Family,

A few years ago, when we read Paul Miller’s A Praying Life my prayer life changed for the better.  Miller’s down-to-earth approach helped me untie the knots of angst I felt in prayer and just approach God conversationally, not feeling (too) guilty about life and dog interruptions during our talks. I saw God answer many of my prayers and in ways I wouldn’t have imagined.

Still, I was sensing that I was doing most of the talking.  I wanted to listen more but didn’t know how without my mind wandering. With that goal in mind, I picked up Timothy Keller’s book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.  It was the word “intimacy” that grabbed my attention because that is what I wanted to develop in listening, a more intimate relationship with my God.

Chapters 1-3 were essentially introductory, setting up Keller’s foundation that “we must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence” (emphasis mine).

It was Chapter 4, “Conversing with God” that grabbed me and confirmed my sense God wanted me to listen more.  Keller starts by reminding us that prayer is our reply to God, who first spoke  to us, not the other way around. In addition, consider what God has done just by speaking.  In Genesis we see God spoke creation in to existence. Psalm 29 says “the voice of the Lord breaks the cedars…the voice of the Lord shakes the desert…” When God speaks, things happen.

Keller’s instructions on how to pray use a more meditative and contemplative style; not the A-C-T-S acronym on which I was originally instructed as a young Christian and continued to use as an older one.  Using practices of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Augustine as examples, he takes readers through prayer, using scripture meditation to form our requests – even practical ones like financial problems and finding lost keys.

The book is scripturally based without turning in to an eye-glazing theology lesson.  Keller’s writing style is stimulating and challenging without sending me to a dictionary every other paragraph. I’ve read many essays by Tim Keller, but this is the first of his books I’ve ever read so I don’t know if this is typical.

I’ve only recently begun observing some of these practices so I have no earth shattering results to share.  I can say that in recent months God has shared with me some wonderful and dare I say intimate observations from His Word, which I attribute to Keller’s insight.

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