For the past few months, I’ve been slowly (and I mean, slooooowly) making my way through Timothy Keller’s book on prayer, fittingly called—Prayer. In the best way possible, this book has really “messed up” my prayer life. God has used this book to reveal things I thought about prayer that were misguided and some things that were even biblically unfounded! Now, I am not saying I think my prayer life has been a sham in any way up to this point; we know from Scripture that the Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26 NRSV). We know that by God’s incomprehensible grace, His Holy Spirit perfects our feeble prayers! What I am saying is that God has used these past few months to wonderfully deconstruct my views on prayer and I am excited to see how He continues to do so.
One section in the book I’ve found especially challenging and helpful is titled, “Prayer through Immersion in God’s Word.” In this section, Keller explains that,
“We know who we are praying to only if we first learn it in the Bible. And we know how we should be praying only by getting our vocabulary from the Bible…If the goal of prayer is a real, personal connection with God, then it is only by immersion in the language of the Bible that we will learn to pray, perhaps just as slowly as a child learns to speak. This does not mean, of course, that we must literally read the Bible before each individual prayer…We can cry out to God all during the day as long as we regularly spend time with his Word…In the Bible we discover a real and complex God. If you have a personal relationship with any real person, you will regularly be confused and infuriated by him or her. So, too, you will be regularly confounded by the God you meet in the Scriptures—as well as amazed and comforted. Your prayer must be firmly connected to and grounded in your reading of the Word. The wedding of the Bible and prayer anchors your life down in the real God.” (Prayer, pg.54-56)
That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? For me, though, it hasn’t been something I’ve really considered until reading this. My prayer life has all too often been informed by my own understanding of God and who I think He is. But we see that it is only by being immersed and fully grounded in Scripture that we meet the real God in our prayer life. The goal of prayer is to have a relationship with God and the only way that we can have a real relationship with Him is if we know who He is, and the primary way we know who Him is through his self-revelation, the Bible.
I encourage you to take a step back and look at your prayer life with God. Is it immersed in God’s Word or is it more informed by your daily thought life? Do your prayers with God tend to revolve around one attribute of God (loving, faithful, etc.) or do they make room for the complexity of who God is?
Our Core 1 class at Greater Portland starts next Sunday, February 19th. If you long for a prayer life that is immersed in the complex beauty of God’s Word, Core 1 is an excellent opportunity to slow down, submerge yourself in His Word, and allow God to show you who He really is.