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JK Turner5 Stars Out Of 5Best book on PrayerAugust 29, 2018JK TurnerQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5My Rating -Must Read
Level -moderate, 250+ pages before appendixes and notes
It is a book about prayer, that is pretty clear from the title. There is a little bit of almost everything, prayer as it is in the Bible, a commentary on the Lord's Prayer, notes from people in church history, differing prayers styles/times, and ways of doing prayer. Overall it is a good survey of most things related to prayer. The book is broken into five parts - Desiring Prayer, Understanding Prayer, Learning Prayer, Deepening Prayer, and Doing Prayer - with a few chapters per part, for a total of 15 chapters.
I've read a number of book on prayer recently for a sermon series, and as someone who occasionally writes, it is almost annoying the Keller once again has written the best book on a topic. The book is almost academic at some points, particularly the exposition of the Lord's Prayer, while still remaining pastoral and accessible to most readers. I actually read only part of the book a year or so ago when I was studying the Sermon on Mount and heard his commentary on the Lord's Prayer was one of the best, then finished this year while studying prayer.
There is a good bit of discussion from people throughout church history (Augustine, Calvin, Luther) regarding prayer. I particularly enjoyed his 'doing prayer'. This was the strength of the book to me. I've read many of the other commentators, and I know that/why we should pray, but I've always struggled with the how and especially with the habit of prayer. If that is you, the book is worth it just for that section and the resources in the back.
The only weakness in the book is that Keller doesn't really discuss unanswered prayers. Or at least, he doesn't do it well. He isn't ready to say that God doesn't answer prayers sometimes. That's a huge theological issue and maybe outside the scope of what he wanted to do, or just knows the answer is both simple and complex. Check out Yancey for more on unanswered prayer. Keller kind of hedges bye saying the answer can be yes and no. He gives the example of a girlfriend in college that broke up with him and him praying that it wouldn't happen. He says the answer was no, as the girl did break up with him, but that the answer was yes because he eventually married his wife. I see what he is saying, and I appreciate what his view, however, this isn't always the case. Some people may never be married; additionally, people die young from cancer, addicts can't kick their addiction, etc.
It is a hard topic, so I don't mind that he failed, because what he does cover is covered so well. As I said earlier, the practice of prayer is handled extensively and is reason enough to get the book. If you are just looking into prayer as an intro, or your prayer life is stuck, or you are looking to go deeper in your understanding of prayer, this book is a must read.
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Anonymous5 Stars Out Of 5Best EverNovember 23, 2015AnonymousQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0I bought this for my husband and he said it's the best book he's ever read on prayer and highly recommends its solid teaching.
John5 Stars Out Of 5Tim Keller's PrayerOctober 29, 2015JohnQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Best book I've ever read on prayer. Instructional and inspirational. We're doing a church-wide study.
bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Great book on prayerFebruary 23, 2015bookwomanjoanOak Harbor, WAAge: Over 65Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5This is the best book on prayer I have read in ages. It answered my questions, provided encouragement, and gave me several models to follow. He explains his own research and experience when he wanted to deepen his prayer life.
Keller starts with the purpose of prayer. Is it communion centered, to experience the presence of God, peacefully reflect on Him and experience personal communication with Him? Or is it kingdom centered, fervently petitioning Him to bring His will to pass? Both, Keller says.
He reminds us that nothing great is easy. Prayer must be, then, one of the hardest things in the world. (24) The foundation of our prayers is important. The more we clearly grasp who God is, the more our prayer is shaped and determined accordingly. (62)
Keller explores learning to pray from the works of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin. He also takes us through the model prayer, The Lord's Prayer. He writes of meditating on the Word and then the kinds of prayer (upward, inward, outward).
I was particularly struck by Keller's discussion of a heart experience, that is, making an effort to experience God in prayer. Personally, raised as one of the frozen chosen, experience was frowned upon. Reviewing Owen on prayer, Keller writes, If doctrinal soundness is not accompanied by heart experience, it will lead eventually to nominal Christianity that is, in name only and eventually to nonbelief. (180)
I greatly appreciated his teaching on petitioning in prayer. We should discipline ourselves to connect each petition to what we know about God... such as what delights Him and what grieves Him (229). Keller explores the two purposes of petitionary prayer to put the world right ('thy kingdom come') and to align our hearts with God ('thy will be done'). (230)
There is much every Christian can gain from reading this book. Keller draws from a number of resources, both ancient and contemporary. There are nearly fifty pages of footnotes. For those who would like to study further, a Selected Annotated Bibliography on Prayer is included.
I took copious notes and here are a few of the passages that captured my interest and gave me food for thought:
Prayer is the only entry way into genuine self-knowledge. (18) Nothing but prayer will ever reveal you to yourself, because only before God can you see and become your true self. (30)
To fail to pray, then, is not to merely break some religious rule it is a failure to treat God as God. (26)
...[P]rayer is faith become audible. (70)
Prayer turns theology into experience. (80)
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