God is the only person from whom you can hide nothing.... Prayer therefore leads to a self-knowledge that is impossible to achieve any other way.
Prayer Therefore Leads
Topic: Prayer, Meditation, & Contemplation
Prayer is not simply the solitary exploration of your own subjectivity. You are with another, and that Other is unique. God is the only person from whom you can hide nothing. Before Him you come to see yourself in a new, unique light. This is the most intense possible relationship between persons. Prayer therefore leads to a self-knowledge that is impossible to achieve any other way.
Founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (NYC), author, theologian
Timothy J. Keller (born September 23, 1950) is an American pastor, theologian, and Christian apologist. He is the Chairman and co-Founder of Redeemer City to City, which trains pastors for ministry in global cities. He is also the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, New York, and the author of The New York Times bestselling books The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (2008), Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (2014, and The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (2008).
Experiencing awe and intimacy with God
Keller, Timothy. “Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.” The Washington Times, [The Washington Times, 30 Dec. 2015, www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/dec/30/power-of-prayer-experiencing-awe-and-intimacy-with/].
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Timothy J. Keller
Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Keller, D.Min, is an American pastor, theologian and Christian apologist. He is best known as the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, New York, and the author of The New York Times bestselling books The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism, The Prodigal God, and Prayer.
Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal
When Flannery O’Connor, the famous Southern writer, was 21 and studying writing in Iowa she sought to deepen her prayer life. She had to.
In 1946 she began keeping a hand-written prayer journal. In it she describes her struggles to be a great writer. “I want very much to succeed in the world with what I want to do I am so discouraged about my work. Mediocrity is a hard word to apply to oneself” These kinds of declarations can be found in the journal of any aspiring artist, but O’Connor did something different with these feelings. She prayed them. Here she followed a very ancient path, as did the Psalmists in the Old Testament, who did not merely identify, express, and vent their feelings but instead processed them with brutal honesty in the reality of God’s presence. Flannery O’Connor wrote in her book A Prayer Journal:
“effort at artistry in this rather than thinking of You and feeling inspired with the love I wish I had. Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. What I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing. I do not know You God because I am in the way.”
Here O’Connor recognizes what Augustine saw clearly in his own prayer journal, The Confessions that living well depended on the re-ordering of our loves. To love our success more than God and our neighbor hardens the heart, making it less able to feel and sense. That, ironically, makes us poorer artists. Therefore, because she was a writer of extraordinary gifts, her only hope was in the constant soul re-orientation of prayer.
Yet she believed that with the journal “I have started on a new phase of my spiritual life the throwing off of certain adolescent habits and habits of mind. It does not take much to make us realize what fools we are, but the little it takes is long in coming. I see my ridiculous self by degrees.” O’Connor learned that prayer is not simply the solitary exploration of your own subjectivity. You are with another, and that Other is unique. God is the only person from whom you can hide nothing. Before Him you come to see yourself in a new, unique light. This is the most intense possible relationship between persons. Prayer therefore leads to a self-knowledge that is impossible to achieve any other way.
–Timothy Keller [Experiencing awe and intimacy with God, The Washington Times Special Edition on Prayer, Wednesday, December 30, 2015].
Additional Timothy Keller Quotes
“Job never saw why he suffered, but he saw God, and that was enough.”
— Timothy Keller.
“What does it mean, then, to become part of God’s work in the world? What does it mean to live a Christian life? One way to answer that question is to look back into the life of the Trinity and the original creation. God made us to ever increasingly share in his own joy and delight in the same way he has joy and delight within himself. We share his joy first as we give him glory (worshipping and serving him rather than ourselves); second, as we honor and serve the dignity of other human beings made in the image of God’s glory; and third, as we cherish his derivative glory in the world of nature, which also reflects it. We glorify and enjoy him only as we worship him, serve the human community, and care for the created environment.
Another way to look at the Christian life, however, is to see it from the perspective of the final restoration. The world and our hearts are broken. Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection was an infinitely costly rescue operation to restore justice to the oppressed and marginalized, physical wholeness to the diseased and dying, community to the isolated and lonely, and spiritual joy and connection to those alienated from God. To be a Christian today is to become part of that same operation, with the expectation of suffering and hardship and the joyful assurance of eventual success.”
–Timothy Keller [The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (2008), Ch. 14: The Dance of God].