Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

By Maryanne Soper

Throughout my life I have believed that prayer is a way to have deep and meaningful conversation with God. But several months ago, as I prepared to teach a Women’s Bible Study lesson on Luke 11 and The Lord’s Prayer, I realized how little I actually understood about having a vibrant prayer life. When Ron Lutz preached a sermon earlier this year on “The Necessity of Prayer,” he referred to Tim Keller’s latest book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Ron’s description of the book intrigued me and I wondered if it would provide some of the answers I sought.

Keller opens his book with the disclaimer that many other books are “immeasurably wiser and more penetrating than anything I could possibly produce.” Why, then, write another? Keller did so to provide a single book that discusses the theological, experiential, and practical matters of prayer in a way that modern readers can grasp.

He begins with a comprehensive discussion of prayer (both Christian and non-Christian) and a useful definition of Christian prayer as “a personal, communicative response to the knowledge of God.” The heart of the book provides a thoughtful exploration of what it means to understand prayer, learn prayer, and deepen our prayer life. Keller’s view is a long one, enriched by examples from the writings of Augustine, Calvin, Luther, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards and others.

Prayer offers no simple formula to magically enliven our prayer, but it does illustrate how meditation on God’s Word helps us to more deeply communicate with God, leading toward an encounter with the Almighty that transforms us. In his concluding section, “Doing Prayer,” the author examines the basic forms of prayer: “upward prayer” (praise and thanksgiving); “inward prayer” (self-examination and confession); and outward prayer (supplication and intercession). Keller concludes with some very practical suggestions on how to actually spend time in prayer. Whether you are a new believer or have walked the Lord for decades, this book will certainly help you to experience “awe and intimacy with God.”