From duty to delight

By Dave Henning / November 29, 2014

Timothy Keller’s latest book, just published, is titled Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.  In the Introduction, Pastor Keller asserts that a book on the essentials of prayer should treat the theological, experiential (devotional), and methodological (practical) aspects of prayer- rather than primarily focusing on one specific aspect.

Most recent books on  prayer, the author notes, tend to have one of two views on the subject:

1.  Most emphasize prayer as a means to experience God’s love and continually rest in Him (communion).

2.  Other books view prayer as calling on God to bring in His kingdom.  Prayer is seen as a wrestling match, often without a clear sense of God’s presence (kingdom).

Pastor Keller states that these opposing views of prayer as peaceful adoration or assertive supplication assume that the answer is completely either-or.  In the Psalms, however, both experiences of prayer are well-represented. Prayer is a journey from duty to delight.

Upon reflection, Pastor Keller posits, those two kings of prayer are not opposites, or even discrete categories.  Prayer, he states is conversation and encounter with God:

“Prayer, then, is both awe and intimacy, struggle and reality.  These will not happen every time we pray, but each should be a major component of our prayer over the course of our lives.”

As the subtitle of a book by J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom summarizes, prayer is “Finding Our Way through Duty to Delight”.

Today’s question: Have your prayers tended to be more conversation or encounter with God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The heart experience”

About the author

Dave Henning

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