Notes and quotes from Prayer by Tim Keller.
1. “Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God.”
2. The Spirit of God enables us to approach God and cry out to Him as our loving Father.
3. Encounters with God involve not only the affections of the heart as well as the convictions of the mind.
4. “Lloyd-Jones once said that he had never written on prayer because of a sense of personal inadequacy in this area.”
5. Paul prayers for his friends reveal what he believed was the most important thing God could give them which was to know Him better. This was more critical than a change in circumstances.
6. John Owen: “A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what the minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.”
7. “To fail to pray is not to merely break some religious rule – it is a failure to treat God as God.”
8. There is a longing in prayer that is never fulfilled in this life.
9. “Prayer as a personal communicative response to the knowledge of God.” This will mean that prayer is affected by the amount and accuracy of that knowledge. The clearer our understanding of who God is, the better our prayers.
10. “In the Bible, God’s living Word, we can hear God speaking to us and we respond in prayer, though we should not call this simply a “response.” Through the Word and Spirit, prayer becomes answering God— a full conversation.”
11. Hearing precedes asking or responding or answering.
12. “Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him.”
13. Speech-act theory makes a convincing case that our words not only convey information, they get things done. God’s words are identical with his actions. “If God’s words are his personal, active presence, then to put your trust in God’s words is to put your trust in God.” The Bible is the way to actually hear God speaking and also to meet God Himself.
14. We get our vocabulary for praying from the Bible. We learn language as it is spoken to us. We speak only to the degree we are spoken to.
15. “Listen, study, think, reflect, and ponder the Scriptures until there is an answering response in our hearts and minds.”
16. Ed Clowney: “The Bible does not present an art of prayer; it presents the God of prayer.”
17. Each person of the Godhead has a distinct work in ensuring our prayers can be heard.
18 We encounter our heavenly Father who sends Hiss Son to save us from our sins so we can be adopted into God’s family. We receive the right to be His children and call on Him as Father. “To be a child of God means access. We know God is attentively listening to us and watching us.” When we pray we sense and appropriate this access and fatherly love and receive the assurance of God’s care for us.
19. Through the Spirit, “prayer is faith become audible.” The Holy Spirit gives us a confident faith that turns naturally into prayer. He also ensures that “the Father hears us praying for what is both truly best for us and pleasing to him.”
20. “We can only be confident that God is our father if we come to him through the mediation of Christ, in Jesus’ name.” What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ Name? “Prayers in his name are prayers… in recognition that the only approach to God… the only way to God is Jesus himself.” Praying in Jesus’ name is a not a magic formula. “To pray in Jesus’ name means to come to God in prayer consciously trusting in Christ for our salvation and acceptance and not relying on our own credibility or record. It is, essentially, to reground our relationship with God in the saving work of Jesus over and over again. It also means to recognise your status as a child of God, regardless of your inner state. God our Father is committed to his children’s good, as any good father would be.”
21. Prayer is costly. Jesus paid the price so God could be our Father.
22. Augustine’s first principle in prayer is that before knowing what to pray for and how to pray for it, you need to become a particular kind of person. “You must see clearly that no matter how great your earthly circumstances become, they can never bring you the lasting peace, happiness, and consolation that are found in Christ. Unless you have that clearly in view, your prayers may go wrong.”
23. Luther encourages turning every biblical text into “a school text, a song book, a penitential book, and prayer book.” By school text he means what a passage want us to believe or do; by song book, how the passage leads us to praise and thank God; by penitential book, how the passage leads us to repent and confess sin; and by prayer book, how it prompts us to appeal to God in petition and supplication.
24. Luther “expects that the Spirit, as we reflect on the biblical truth before God, will sometimes fill our hearts with rich thoughts and ideas that feel poignant and new to us, even when we are thinking about a text or truth that we have heard hundreds of times before.”
25. Joyful admiration of God has a fearful aspect to it. “You are in awe, and therefore you don’t want to mess up… Because of unutterable love and joy in God, we tremble with the privilege of being in his presence and with an intense longing to honour him when we are there. We are deeply afraid of grieving him.”
26. Jesus is the only one who can say with confidence that God always hears me. If we are united to Him, what is true of Him is true of us. If He has the perfect and secure access of obedient child to the Father, so do we.
27. Hallowed be Thy Name is “a request that faith in God would spread throughout the world, that Christians would honour God with the Christ-likeness or holiness of their lives, and that more and more people would honour God and call on his name.”
28. Thy Kingdom come is answered as God extends His royal power over every part of our lives – emotions, desires, thoughts and commitments until Jesus returns and brings the consummation of the kingdom that God has begun in us.
29. The Lord’s Prayer is a summary of all other prayers.
30. “Calvin took great care to define public prayers and the liturgy because he wanted private prayers to be strongly shaped by the corporate worship of the Christian church.”
31. What Prayer Is: a duty and a discipline; conversing with God; a balanced interaction of praise, confession, thanks, and petition.
32. “We should pray even if we are not getting anything out of it.”
33. “Our prayer must be in full, grateful awareness that our access to God as Father is a free gift won by the costly sacrifice of Jesus the True Son, and then enacted in us by the Holy Spirit, who helps us know inwardly that we are his children.”
34. As we pray, we should do so with appreciation of God’s power, majesty, and grace.
35. “If prayer is to be a true conversation with God, it must be regularly preceded by listening to God’s voice through meditation on the Scripture.”
36. Three basic kinds of prayer: upward (praise and thanksgiving); inward (self-examination and confession); outward (supplication and intercession).
37. CS Lewis: “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment.”
38. We are never as thankful as we should be.
39. “Just as all prayer is framed by praise, in the end, all prayer should and will end in praise.”
40. If we know we are loved and accepted in spite of our sins, that makes it far easier to confess our sins admitting our faults and flaws.
41. Confessing your sins involves admitting the sin, but also forsaking, rejecting, and repudiating it.
42. “Our prayer life is the place where we should examine our lives and find the sins that otherwise we would be too insensitive or busy to acknowledge.”
43. Donald Bloesch: “Prayer is not simply petition, but strenuous petition. It is… active pleading with God. It consists not merely in reflection on the promises of God but in taking hold of these promises.”
44. “We should lay before God, as part of our prayer, the reasons why we think that what we ask for is the best thing.”
45. We can leave our concerns with God confident that He will hear them and confident that He will act on them when and as is best.
46. “God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knew.”
47. “If we are going to take time to think our way into the situations and personal lives on which our intercessions focus,” we may not be able to pray for as many items and issues. “Our amplifyings and argumentation will [then] lift our intercessions from the shopping list, prayer-wheel level to the apostolic category of what Paul called ‘struggle’.”
48. Most Protestant churches, though, settled into a pattern of morning private prayer and evening family prayer.
49. John Bunyan was vehemently opposed to all written prayer forms but John Owen believed that “prescribed prayer forms could be useful if they were written by godly persons from their own experience and the light of Scripture. Such prayers can be heart affecting and give stimulation and guidance to our own prayers.”
50. It would be good if daily prayer in private was more interwoven with the corporate prayer of the church and we learn to pray “not merely from reading the Psalms and the rest of the Bible but by hearing and reading the prayers of the church.” Time-tested and carefully considered prayers are not provided as they were in times past.
51. Imagine that your soul is a boat, a boat with both oars and a sail. In this case here are four questions:
i) Are you “sailing”? Sailing means you are living the Christian life with the wind at your back.
ii) Are you “rowing”? Rowing means you are finding prayer and Bible reading to be more a duty than a delight.
iii) Are you “drifting”? Drifting means that you are experiencing all the conditions of rowing—spiritual dryness and difficulties in life. But in response, instead of rowing, you are letting yourself drift. You don’t feel like approaching and obeying God, so you don’t pray or read.
iv) Are you “sinking”? Eventually your boat, your soul, will drift away from the shipping lanes, as it were—and truly lose any forward motion in the Christian life.