Speaking up (book review)

Experiencing awe and intimacy with God
By Timothy Keller
Hodder & Stoughton. 321 pages. £16.99
ISBN 978 1 444 750 157

This excellent book is for the ordinary reading Christian.

It is excellent, firstly because it is comprehensive. Unlike nearly all the other works on prayer, it is theological and experiential and methodological. Keller freely acknowledges that many writers have done better than he on different aspects of the subject, but we all need an up-to-date book that covers all the ground.

Secondly he deals fascinatingly and satisfyingly with the balance or tension between the mystical/emotional and the intellectual in prayer. Quite a bit of time is spent examining different approaches and evaluating them. Contrary to what some anti-Keller websites have suggested, he is not a mystic in the sense of undervaluing the mind and the place of the word of God in prayer. He comes out more or less where John Owen, John Murray and J. I. Packer do: ‘wordless prayer is not the pinnacle… but the periodic punctuation of verbal prayer’ (Packer with Nystrom).

Thirdly he links praying with listening to God as he speaks in his Word, and gives useful advice. Prayer is ‘fellowship with the personal God who befriends us through speech’. In this connection he gives plenty of advice on how to meditate on the Word, some of it drawn from Martin Luther’s great little letter to his barber on prayer. It’s in the same vein as George Mueller’s famed advice on integrating Bible reading and prayer.

Deeper encounter

He also distinguishes helpfully between prayer as fellowship with God and prayer as … (to read more click here)

Chris Bennett,
pastor of Wilton Community Church, N. London,
and lecturer in Preaching and New Testament  at London Theological Seminary

This article was first published in the March 2015 issue of Evangelicals Now. For more news, artciles or reviews, visit our website or subscribe to en for regular updates.