Timothy Keller concludes his discussion of Calvin’s rules of prayer in Chapter 7 of Prayer with a fifth “rule” that actually is a major qualification of the word rule.
5. The rule of grace. Calvin urges us not to conclude that any set of rules could make our prayers worthy to be heard. Only grace can qualify us for access to God.
So, Pastor Keller asks, what is the function of rules? Why does it matter how we pray if it’s all by grace? His answer:
” . . . prayer should be shaped by and in accord with that grace. The joyful fear, the helplessness yet confidence, are all ways of approaching God that are possible only if our access is not earned but is received as a gift. Only when we see we cannot keep the rules, and need God’s mercy, can we become people who keep the rules. The rules . . . align our prayers with who God is- the God of grace- and thereby unite us to him more and more.”
When we pray “in Jesus’ name”, Pastor Keller explains, we come to God consciously trusting in Christ for our salvation and acceptance. We don’t rely on our own credibility or record. Praying in Jesus’ name also means to recognize our status as children of God, regardless of the inner state of our emotions.
Today’s question: How has grace shaped your prayer life? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Your name or Jesus’ name?”