Mystical versus prophetic prayer

By Dave Henning / December 8, 2014

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”- Colossians 1:27

In Chapter 3 (“What is Prayer?”) of Prayer, Timothy Keller presents his concept of prayer by drawing on two seemingly opposing views on prayer- mystical versus prophetic prayer.  Mystical prayer, as defined b y German theologian Friedrich Heiler, is silent, tranquil, wordless contemplation.  God is more imminent than transcendent.  God is seen as within us and within all things.  Prophetic prayer, by contrast, emphasizes (in the words of Pastor Keller) “that God is outside us, transcendent above us, holy , glorious, and ‘Other’.”

Pastor Keller cites the words of Jonathan Edwards.  Edwards was overwhelmed with the power of Scripture and the reality to which these words pointed.  Prayer is deeply mystical and richly prophetic at the same time, as Pastor Keller concludes:

“I believe . . . that prayer is ultimately a verbal response of faith to a transcendent God’s Word and his grace, not an inward descent to discover we are one with all things and God.  Yet . . . we need to recognize that prayer also can lead regularly to personal encounter with God, which can be indeed a wondrous, mysterious, awe-filled experience.”

Today’s question: How does Pastor Keller’s belief about prayer inform your current prayer life?  Please share.

New addition to Crown Jewels: “The enemy of isolation”

Tomorrow’s blog: “Answering God”


About the author

Dave Henning


Leave a comment:

Call Now Button