I can't even begin to describe how awesome Timothy Keller's book on prayer is. If you haven't read it, you should get it RIGHT NOW!
Prayer has always been something that I do in phases of my life. I like to think it is when I am trying to view myself as more spiritual. I don't know that is accurate...but I kind of feel like it isn't necessarily something that I have felt the need to do a lot of the time. It is kind of sad, but it is true.
I mean I have believed that prayer works, but most of the time I have believed that prayer works for everyone else, but me. I'm not really sure why because God has clearly answered a lot of my prayers. Actually looking back now He has answered all of my prayers, just not in the way that I wish He would have necessarily. A lot of times God has said no or wait...and unfortunately I don't really care for either of those answers most of the time.
Obviously when you are spending alone time with God there is going to be prayer. A lot of it. I found myself praying in my usual ACTS way, but then I started reading the book...and realized that I have been allowing prayer to be something that is just checked off my list of things to do instead of enjoying it...and longing for it, and making it a part of my very being.
One of the very first quotes that I wrote down was this....
"Prayer, therefore leads to self-knowledge that is impossible to achieve any other way." (12)
I wrote this shortly after:
I am God's. Prayer is my way to communicate with God. Why am I not in constant communication with Him? Why do I forfeit time to talk to Him? He should be my top priority, 100%. Why is my Creator not getting the best of my communication?
That's it, right? If knowing who I am is impossible without prayer, then shouldn't I want to be praying ALL OF THE TIME? Instead I find myself lost in moments of texting, FB, IG, and other communicative tools that want to steal the knowledge of who I am.
"In short, unless we put a priority on the inner life, we turn ourselves into hypocrites." (22)
I will never be in communication with God enough. I just won't. To think that I have prayer down, is to see myself more highly than God. Isn't it true about friendships/relationships too? Isn't there always more we can do in order to communicate in a clearer way? Isn't it true that the more we communicate with others the more we know about them, but also about ourselves.
"To fail to pray then, is not to merely break some religious rule, it is failure to treat God, as God." (26)
Nature makes me so much more aware of God. Overlooking the lake taking in all that He is. Letting go of all that I was. Letting go of the expectations that others put on me. Realizing that I am a created being. I deserve to be treated that way. I don't need to be punished or humiliated in order to be right with God. Today I let go of that. Today I let go of the pain that it has caused. Today I let go of that part of me.
Recognizing that God is greater than all my fears. Recognizing that prayer brings me in tune with who I am. Brings me in tune with the parts of God that I haven't even been able to acknowledge yet, because I don't know them.
"Prayer- Personal, communicative response to the knowledge of God." -Keller
"Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him." (48)
There is no one right way to pray....
"God is majestic and tender, holy and forgiving, loving and inscrutable. That is why prayer can never be primarily abject confessions or triumphant praise or plaintive appeals- it cannot be mainly any one type of expression." (60)
I can't get it wrong. That is real, raw, and authentic. God hears me....
"Prayer is the way to experience a powerful confidence that God is handling our lives well, that our bad things will turn out for good, our good things cannot be taken from us, and the best things are yet to come." (73)
As I continue to read and ponder all that Keller says about prayer....I am just in awe of the amazingness that God has shown Him about communicating with our Creator. I find myself looking forward to a prayer-filled life. Not one that is asking God for things and that's it...but one that is communicating with an all-knowing, loving Creator. To know Him more....to know who He created me to be more. To be thankful for the times He says no, or wait. To understand that He wants to hear from me. That He wants to know the deepest desires of my heart. He already knows them, but He wants to hear them.
"The very fact that we have access to God's attention and presence should concentrate the thoughts and elevate the heart." (99)
I am still learning. I am learning more about prayer every single day. I want it to be my focus. I want it to be the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do at night. I want it to be my essence. I want to know Him, and be so in tune with His voice that it is His prayers I am making.
I want to live out the fact that
GOD IS THE ONE THING I TRULY NEED....