The Integrity of Prayer

I am reading Tim Keller’s book on Prayer again. The last time I read it, it left a huge impression on me, and for awhile changed my habits. I am back to it again because I have been praying less and less. Like an art form or a skill, I have forgotten many things about prayer and need to come back to basics, and to the profound and amazing truths about prayer. We are being called to be more and more prayerful in the Missional Community we are involved in, and so, like always, God’s timing and His had are at work in bringing about change. I have a desire to reach out to a friend and see if He will prayer regularly with me, to be held accountable and grow with practice.

I remember the last time I read this book that this section stood out to me. It did so again. The inner life. The call to want God more, to know Him better. That’s right where I am at. I want more of Him. Not more of what He can do, or for him to change circumstances or make anything better, I just want Him. I want eternal things more than I ever have before. I believe this is a thirst and a hunger that only He can give and I look forward to being filled.

From page 22:

If we give priority to the outer life, our inner life will be a dark, scary room. We will not know what to do with solitude. We will be deeply uncomfortable with self-examination, and we will have an increasingly short attention span for any kind of reflection. Even more seriously, our lives will lack integrity. Outwardly, we will need to project confidence, spiritual and emotional health and wholeness, while inwardly we may be filled with self-doubts, anxieties, self-pity, and old grudges. Yet we won’t know how to go into the inner rooms of the heart, see clearly what is there, and deal with it. In short, without putting a priority on the inner life, we turn ourselves into hypocrites. The seventeenth-century English theologian

John Owen wrote a warning to popular and successful ministers.

A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.

Please take seriously the challenge that, without a rich prayer life, you will live as a hypocrite. To discover the real you, look at what you spend time thinking about and doing especially when no one is looking, when nothing is forcing you to think about anything in particular. When you have that freedom, do your thoughts go toward God? You may want to be seen as a humble, unassuming person, but do you take the initiative to confess sins before God? You wish to be perceived as a positive, cheerful person, but do you habitually thank God for everything you have and praise him for who he is? You may speak a great deal about what a “blessing” your faith is and how you “just really love the Lord,” but if you are prayerless—is that really true? If you aren’t joyful, humble, and faithful in private before God, then what you appear to be on the outside won’t match what you truly are.

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