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Prayer: Until We're Face to Face

Girl walking on Isle of Skye

Hey, Hey! It's Theology Thursday! This summer I'm focusing on prayer. Here's this week's thoughts:

Last Thursday when I didn't do my planned post on prayer, I felt bad for not being consistent as consistency is what I'm working at being better at! But then I calmed my inconsistent self down because my reason was SO GOOD! It was because I had spent the day hanging out WITH my daughter, who had just gotten home from a five week trip overseas, which came right off her semester at college. Being in person with her is getting more and more rare for us! It was so much better to be in person with her and to hear more travel stories, ones too long for texting, stories we shared to catch up as she and I enjoyed a day together. It's obvious: It's always better to be with someone you love in person, rather than communicating with distance between.

That picture? It's my daughter hiking on the Isle of Skye. Her time abroad was spent in Scotland, along with a weekend in London, doing a couple classes through her college. It's been my longtime wish to go to Scotland, so I was excited she had the opportunity to go and learn more about the beautiful country, and, in turn, help me know more about this place I've always wanted to visit. We kept in touch via texts and Snapchat but I still missed her presence here at home. Because I know my daughter, her reactions to seeing new places, meeting new people and excitement over little stationary items from cozy little shops made sense. When I got a text that said, "There's a spider in my room and I don't know where he went," Followed by a couple all caps texts: "AHHHHH" "WHERE IS HE"

I understood the freaking out that was about to happen, because I know my daughter and her fear of all bugs! (spoiler alert: she survived. but never opened her dorm room window again.)

So, I skipped my Theology Thursday post on prayer, because I was with my daughter, which is why when I was straightening up my nightstand later that night and saw Timothy Keller's book on prayer, tears immediately came to my eyes as I noticed the subtitle: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Why? Because Keller passed away on May 19th, and I had this immediate reaction of overwhelming joy to imagine this man being in the presence of the glory of God, no longer physically separated, no longer writing a book using words too insignificant to fully describe what being with God would be like.

Imagine the awe he was experiencing at that moment and the addendum he'd add to his book with his new understanding! I assume he would continue to encourage those of us here with the truth: Through prayer, we can experience awe and intimacy with God UNTIL we are in His presence where we will experience Him in fullness.

All spiritual analogies fall apart at some point, and this one isn't perfect, but the two thoughts of my daughter having been away from me and now physically present, and the image of Keller striving to understand prayer and communion with God, yet now in God's presence caused my own heart to be encouraged, and to respond in thankfulness and - to use Keller's word - awe.

Keller's opening chapter mentions the Apostle Paul and his prayers for his friends and how these prayers "contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances...Rather, in them he reveals what he asked most frequently for his friends - what he believed was the most important thing God could give them... to know him better."

  • God is beyond our comprehension, yet knowable.

  • God is able to be communicated with.

  • God can be studied and learned about, which helps us to know better how to pray (something Keller himself stated: "Prayer [is] a personal, communicative response to the knowledge of God.")

Prayer connects me with God, not an obtuse floaty feeling somewhere out there, but a Reality. The same way I was connected to my daughter whom I know- a real, physical being - through our texts. Knowing my loved ones and my brother in the Lord, Timothy Keller, are in the presence of God and would - if they could - encourage me to stay on the path, to continue to learn about God and to continue to pray in order to be in communion with God was overwhelming in a joyful sense. I can't tell the story of seeing that title without tears coming because oh, what a day it will be!

Not being with my daughter in person for a while made me want to be with her, but knowing who she is made my communication with her over text bring confidence and comfort to my mother's heart. After all, it was simply me talking to my sweet, brave, smart, adventurous, kinda cautious daughter until we could see each other again.

Not being with God in person for now makes me want to be with Him, but knowing who He is makes my communication with Him through prayer and studying His Word bring confidence and comfort to my heart. After all, it is me talking to my merciful, just, steadfast, loving, gracious Father in heaven until I can see Him face-to-face.

The prayer preceding all prayers is "May it be the real I who speaks.

May it be the real Thou that I speak to."

-CS Lewis


Prayer is not a simple question/answer to me. It isn't an easy topic, and it's one that has been twisted by our selfish desires as humans and perverted by false teaching. It's my desire that as I get to know God more, I understand prayer more, but I also know I will never have all the answers and may not explain things exactly right. Have grace.


Books on Prayer I Recommend:

[Short review: I am a fan of Keller's writing, but this book felt a little more academic to me in that much of it was reviewing other theologian's writings on prayer. Calvin and Owen are mentioned often, which: meh (that's super theological, right? meh.) The parts I enjoyed and where I benefited most -and why I'd still recommend it - were when Keller himself gave insight into what prayer meant to him and his faith (which he does do, just not throughout the entire book).

[Short review: Well-written. Felt more personal than Keller's book. Intriguing questions and answers - one of Yancey's strengths is his ability to be honest about questions, but also to pursue finding answers. I've had an affinity to Yancey since I attended a few Sunday School class sessions as a college student where he was teaching material later included in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew. There's something about sitting in cold metal folding chairs in a basement of a church with coffee and donuts, learning from a wise teacher that never leaves your soul.]

Praying with Paul by D A Carson

[Full review coming later as I'm midway through this book: Intriguing. Interesting. Bases what he says about prayer mainly on Paul's prayers. I've had some a-ha, "let me read this out loud to you" moments. Looking forward to finishing this one!]

Coming in August - preorder now:

[Short review: This book hasn't been published yet, but I've preordered and am excited to read it, as Koessler's wisdom has been an encouragement to me and I look forward to reading his latest book. His podcast is great, listen here: A Stranger in the House of God]

My Spotify Playlist of worship music that's not the same ol', same ol': Non-Pablum Songs About God

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