This is part of an ongoing series book study which complements the Thursday and Friday morning Men’s book study on prayer. Read the other chapter discussions here. Read along with us! Last week, we discussed how some of the great men of faith approached prayer.
Are we devoid of “awe?”
It seems in our society we lack a certain respect for the awe-inspiring. You’d think this is because we are saturated with sights that once caused primitive man to quake and fall to the ground and worship. Our modern response is to lift a few fingers and type “meh” into a comment box on Facebook. Could it be instead that we are awe-avoiders and we seek counterfeit awe to inoculate us from ever seeing the real thing. Real awe would be much too terrible.
John Calvin tells us there is nothing worse than to be devoid of awe. It was his primary step in prayer before a righteous and holy God. Tim Keller begins with this concept and then pushes us through Calvin’s additional steps or rules of prayer. According to Calvin, we should approach God in: 1. Awe 2. Humility 3. Trust 4. Confidence
Rule 1. Expected to be awed
We are reminded what it means to truly be awestruck in the presence of God. Once we recognize our need to be awestruck “we must be ruthlessly honest about our flaws and weaknesses” in a practice of humility (Keller 100). Which leads to…
Rule 2. Pray with humility
Prayer is not “dress to impress”. It is rather a striking move to drop the phony show as you stand and behold an awesome God.
Rule 3. Trust the Lord
This is like Martin Lloyd Jones’ often repeated illustration about the first time unleashed dog who wanders out the door only to come running to his master and then choosing to go with his master unleashed on his daily walks. We humbly trust in a submissive way before the Lord, in awe of our standing with him and his presence before us.
Rule 4. Have confidence in the Lord
Calvin’s fourth rule is to live and pray in such a way that we do it with confidence and hope. We do not need a leash to experience these things, but we do need a master. And, that master will never grant a wish, rather he will answer our prayers according to and not apart from his divine will.
Rule 4.5 The rule against all rules: Grace
Following a set pattern or set of rules will not insure that prayers work. We seek all of these things in his grace and by his grace. We can’t rely on our “own credibility record” (Keller 105). We also can’t use Jesus’ name as some type of talisman.
Questions for Discussion:
- If God’s will is always right, and submission to it is so important, why pray for anything with fervor and confidence? (from page 102)
- Re-read the first full paragraph on page 98. How does this change, deepen and/or affirm your view of God?
- How can we be “ruthlessly honest” about our flaws and weaknesses? What does that look like in a vibrant prayer life?
- How is praying to God with confidence different than the “name it and claim it” heresy that is so popular in some ministries?
- What does praying in Jesus’ name sound like? Does it require the use of certain words? How can this be misinterpreted? How can praying in Jesus’ wrongly become a lazy form of spirituality?
On Your Own:
Re-read the last section of chapter seven (105-107). How have you been trying to lay claim to God in ways that are contrary to the Gospel. What does it mean for you to hear that Christ has a great claim on God? How does that put what we do in perspective? To go deeper in this concept follow this link https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/timothy-keller-podcast/id352660924?mt=2 and listen to Tim Keller’s sermon entitled: Everyone with a Gift Released Jan 24, 2014. In this sermon, Keller preaches from Romans 12, where:
“Paul looks at the Gospel and then exhorts us as to how we should live in the light of what Christ has done. He urges us to give up control over our lives and become ‘living sacrifices’ for God. Unfortunately, the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps moving off the altar. Unless we stare deeply at Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf, we will never trust God enough to become the living sacrifices that he calls us to be.”