Keller On Prayer

Name and Place for Tuesday, 6 January 2015


Christianity is a faith filled with tension. What do I mean? Well, take for instance, predestination. God both predestines people unto faith but those people are also fully accountable for placing their faith in Jesus. Or, Jesus as King and ruler of the universe. He rules as an absolutely sovereign yet, at the same time, his rule has not yet been fully realized in this sinful and chaotic world.

prayerThis same tension occurs with the topic of prayer. One side of the pendulum can swing towards what Tim Keller calls “communion-centered prayer.” This type of prayer “emphasize[s] prayer as a means to experience God’s love and to know oneness with him. They promise a life of peace and of continual resting in God.”

The pendulum can also swing towards what Keller calls “kingdom-centered” prayer. This view sees prayer “not as inward resting but as calling on God to bring in his kingdom. Prayer is viewed as a wrestling match, often-or perhaps ordinarily–without a clear sense of God’s presence.”

The first category would be the majority of American evangelicalism with its emphasize on feeling God’s presence and discerning His will for your life within prayer. It is emotional and feeling-centric.

The second category would describe the majority of Reformed believers in their emphasis on doctrinal precision within their public and private prayers. It is doctrinal-centric.

There is a happy tension-filled middle ground. Keller explains it in the following manner:

A little reflection will show us that these two kinds of prayer are neither opposites nor even discrete categories. Adoring God is hot through with supplication. To praise God is to pray “hallowed by thy name,” to ask him to show the world his glory so that all would honor him as God. Yet just as adoration contains supplication, so seeking God’s kingdom must include prayer to know God himself. The Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that our purpose is to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.” In this famous sentence we see reflected both kingdom-prayer and communion-prayer. Those two things–glorifying God and enjoying God–do not always coincide in this life, but in the end they must be the same thing. We may pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, but if we don’t enjoy God supremely with all our being, we are not truly honoring him as Lord.

The quotes used in this post are from Tim Keller’s latest book: Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy With God, 1-4.

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