Some 850 persons attended Redeemer’s prayer event on January 29th at the W83 Ministry Center. Tim Keller spoke on the subject of his latest book “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God” and led a time of Q & A on the topic.
Tim spoke about two broad areas of concern that surfaced from the questions submitted. He unpacked the two key areas one needs to know on how and why we are to pray: 1) Why pray when God is sovereign and controls everything, and 2) How are we to know we are hearing from God when we pray.
Here are some key takeaways that can help us have a better prayer life.
Understanding God’s Sovereignty: God works through our choices. He recognizes he has given us free will and concurs with us in the choices we make to achieve the greatest good for us. Our destiny is worked out by God in relationship to our choices.
God wants and expects us to pray. But like a loving father, he knows it is not always best to give us what we pray for. He withholds the things we ask for that would do us harm. He gives us what we would ask for if we knew all that he knows.
Hearing God through His Word: We hear by “…Thinking the word out, in, and up,” Tim said. When meditating on Scripture, we should first carefully examine each word in a verse, then meditate on it, then ask ourselves what God would have us to do based on the verse. Then we pray. We will always benefit from this exercise, but it is also possible to hear the Holy Spirit in the text—the voice of God. The treatise by Martin Luther, “A Simple Way to Pray” was given as a reference to learn more about how to discern God’s voice.
Prayer has Power: God gives his people the power to change things through prayer. Tim mentioned 19th century pastor/writer Austin Phelps, who pointed out even non-Christians understand this—sometimes better than Christians. Phelps wrote about a pagan king planning to invade Wales – a Christian country. In looking over the battlefield he saw a large contingent of monks who he was told were praying for the Welsh. He told his soldiers to kill the monks first then go after the Welsh army. The pagan king knew the power released by God when his people pray. Phelps called it, “The sturdy reality of prayer.”
Thanking God: We should spend more time thanking God for answered prayer. When our prayers are not answered we benefit if we take time to meditate on why. In this way we can learn from God’s decision to either answer, not answer, or to delay the answer. And we grow in our relationship with God.
Discerning God’s will: Tim spoke about his call to New York to start Redeemer and how it is only in retrospect that we can truly see what God’s will is. It is when we meditate and pray first that we can then do what we believe God has called us to do. But only the results will tell us if we acted according to God’s will.
If you would like to watch a video of Dr. Keller’s talk and Q&A from this event go to: redeemer.com/prayerevent