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.
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