Praying with understanding

By Dave Henning / December 13, 2014

“I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.”- 1 Corinthians 14:15

As Timothy Keller continues Chapter 4 of Prayer, he reminds us that while prayer does have a mystical quality, St. Paul calls Christians to keep their rationality as they pray- praying with understanding.  Pastor Keller cites Martin Luther, who was adamant that we won’t know who we are conversing with if we get “beyond” God’s words in the Bible:

“We must first hear the Word, and then afterwards the Holy Ghost works in our hearts; he works in the hearts of whom he will, and how he will, but never without the Word.”

Pastor Keller asserts that the use of language is essential, not incidental, to God’s eternal being as the Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Yet, we must not base our choice of prayer on what we believe will produce the experiences and feelings we want.  The author states that we need to respond to God as the Scriptures reveal Him:

“W would never produce the full range of biblical prayer if we were initiating prayer according to our own inner needs and psychology.  It can only be produced if we are responding in prayer according to who God is as revealed in the Scripture. . . . In every case the nature of prayer is determined by the character of God, who is at once our friend, father, lover, shepherd, and king.”

Today’s question: Why does Pastor Keller assert that we shouldn’t base our prayers on what we believe will produce our expected results?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Finding the heart to pray”

About the author

Dave Henning


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