Jim Shrimplin

Prayer by Timothy Keller Introduction

The last couple of weeks I have been reading a great book on prayer. Timothy Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God is one of the best books I have read, well, listened too. I drive a lot and one of the things that I do while driving is I listen to audio books. That is how I first consumed Keller’s book. It was so good that I ordered a physical copy and I am in the process of re-reading it. I am also in the process of teaching from it in our prayer services at the church I serve. I want to give you a little review of the introduction of his book plus add some of my own thoughts. Well here it goes.

In the introduction, Keller introduces two types of prayer; communion prayer and kingdom prayer. Communion prayers are the types of prayer that brings the believer into God’s presence. These prayers do exactly what the name implies. They provide you communion with God. The follower of Christ senses God presence in their spirit. Unfortunately, Keller tells the reader that most Christians struggle with sensing God presence. The man or woman of God goes to prayer and rarely feels like the are communing with God.

This is one place that I agree and disagree with Keller all at the same time. There are a lot of Christians that never sense God while praying, but on the other hand their are a multitude that do. If you look into church history, you would find that there are two paths that church and individuals took theologically. One side we call head knowledge and the other we will call heart knowledge. What are these two patches you ask?

Well, the head knowledge path of church history refer to those that emphasized knowledge about God over and above experiencing God. Of course, some of the great theologians have come from this camp. People like John Calvin who wrote a tomb entitled, “Institutes of the Christian Religion” and Martin Luther who started the Reformation. They knew God for sure but it was through the mind more than the heart.

There are plenty of people and denominations that come out of these traditions. In fact, Keller himself comes out of one those denominations, Presbyterian Church U.S.A. He quotes Donald Bloesch, former professor at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa and is the school from which I received my Master of Divinity degree. UDTS is a PCUSA seminary and is a sister seminary to Harvard also a PCUSA affiliated school. Therefore, I could see why Keller would lean the direction that he does.

On the other side of the coin are Christians that emphasize the heart knowledge. What is interesting is that UDTS also have a United Methodist program and United Methodist would fallen into the heart knowledge category. In this heart knowledge path, Christians put more of an emphasis on knowing God through the Spirit. Theology in this camp is still important but they don’t forget about the Spirit speaking to their spirit.

In fact, tracing the movement from John Wesley today you would find a connection between Wesley, the Holiness Movement and the Pentecostal movement. If you looked at the denominations who consider Wesley their founder and Pentecostal movements like the Assemblies of God, you would think there is no way they could have common roots but they do.

I have only touched on one concept that Keller writes about in the introduction. I would recommend that you buy the book to read or the audible book and listen to Keller’s book. It is filled with great information.

If you are thinking about purchasing Keller’s book or Calvin’s book, please consider using the links below or the links in the post. If you do, you would be supporting this website and the cost of operating it. Thanks in advance.

Jim Shrimplin

Your Past Is Not Your Prison

America has a trend running through it’s veins. It seems that everyone is looking to play the victim. Here is how it happens. You wake up one morning and you realize that your life is all messed up. Nothing is going the way that you planned. You don’t own a house. You don’t have a white picket fence. You don’t have two kids, one boy and one girl. You don’t have a successful career. Everything that could go wrong seems to be going wrong. You wonder how you got into this mess so you begin to reflect on your past.

You don’t have a house because your parents never taught you how to handle your finances. You don’t have a picket fence because someone told you the American Dream is dead. You don’t have have two kids, one boy and one girl because when you were 14 someone called you ugly. You don’t have a successful career because a high school counselor suggested that you major in underwater basket weaving in college. You have decided your position or lack of position is not because what you did but what someone else has done to you. You are a victim. Your past is defining you. Your past is your prison keeping you doing what God called you to do.

Prison is not the place for victims. No, prison is the place for those guilty of a crime but your past has put in prison. You can’t move forward in life because your past screams, “You can’t do that!” You don’t have the talent. You don’t have the this or you don’t have that. You can’t move because the prison cell of your past is holding captive, but your past was never to be used in this way.

How is your past to be used in your life? First, your past does not have your be your prison. Your past was meant to be your testimony. When life says, you are failure! You don’t own a house.” You respond, “I may not have a home in this life but God has a mansion for me just over the hill top. You don’t have picket fence. You don’t have the American Dream. You respond, “No I don’t have a picket fence and I don’t have the American Dream but I have a God given dream. I know that God is going to do something great in my life. When life says, “You can’t do that for God.” You respond, “Yes, I can because I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.”

When God is in control of your life, your past is not your prison. It is your testimony. You past is not to keep you from doing things for God. Your past is the key to unlocking someone else’s future. Your past, your testimony is someone else’s inspiration to follow Christ. Your past is to show people what God can do in their lives if they will let him. The problem becomes that we want to use our past as our prison to explain our future failures.

Today, I want to encourage you to not be a prisoner to your past. Give your past to God. Watch God heal your past. Watch God work out the bad things in your past and change them into God things. Watch God turn your life around. Then tell others what God has done for you then you will be able to watch God use your past to change someone else’s future. Don’t be the victim! Be the victor in Jesus’ Name!