It’s 5:00 A.M.. I struggle to keep my eyes open as I sit hunched over with my face on the ground. Between the lack of mental alertness and 60° on the thermostat I struggle to form even the weakest prayer. Why is this thing we call prayer so hard? Does it matter? How can I excel at this, “personal, communicative response to the knowledge of God?” (45)
It is at moments like this I have been extremely helped by Tim Keller and his new book titled Prayer. Here we have the best of precise study and a masterful synthesis of older works on prayer. We not only have the mind of Keller on prayer but we have in this volume more than that, we have a careful reading of Saint Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin. As we are led through the ups and downs of prayer through the eyes of these three we see a personal story of a pastor who, after being diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer, sought a deeper and more fruitful prayer life.
Along with the examination of older works, Keller takes us to the bible and points us to Christ and communion with God as the end goal of prayer. With that end goal in mind the reader is pushed forward to engage God as God and not some fanciful creation that we’ve made up in our minds. He reminds us that, “It [prayer] is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life.” (18)
What Tim Keller does in Prayer is monumental. He brings the best of theological, experimental, and methodological writings and houses them under one roof. In this one volume we see the best of what has been offered to the Church by way of saints who have traversed the peaks and valleys of this most vital practice. As I read through these pages I was connected to God in the most intimate of ways, all the while urged to overcome the feelings of personal inadequacy.
This is a volume we must strive with. We are not allowed to bring lagging excuses or tired cliches in our prayer life. We are propelled forward by Keller as we come into the very presence of the Triune God who fashioned us to have a personal, intimate relationship with His Son. Even when it feels like we aren’t getting anywhere or hearing anything on the other end of the conversation or we are faced with situations that leave us in the dark we are encouraged by the fact that, “fellowship with God is available now.” (262)