Tim Keller's 5 Steps To An Effective Prayer Life

Jan 09, 2017 by Will Maule

Prayer is a central element to the Christian life. But often times it can feel stagnant and lacking in power. We often feel as if we are speaking into the silence, and thus become disheartened and may even stop praying altogether. We must understand, however, that God is always accessible to us. We can commune with him, and it is an honor to do so. So, how can we develop a more effective prayer life? Well, David Qaoud at Crosswalk highlights 5 steps, taken from pastor Tim Keller's book 'Prayer.'

1. Evocation
"To evoke means “to bring to mind,” though it also can include invocation, calling on God. Keller says that there is almost, “universal agreement that prayer should be started by ‘thinking over who it is that you will be addressing, what he has done to give you access to himself, and how you stand related to him …” Think before you pray."

2. Meditation. 
"To respond to God in prayer, we must listen to his Word. This means taking some time to meditate on some portion of the Bible as a bridge to prayer. Meditation is a form of reflection and self-communion.1 Take a verse or two, or an entire section, and meditate on it as a way of fueling your heart to prepare you to pray."

3. Word prayer. 
"Keller received this inspiration from Martin Luther. And this is a step that is often overlooked. After meditating on Scripture, Luther takes time to “pray the text” before moving on to more free-form prayer. Luther advises that we take the Lord’s Prayer and paraphrase each petition in his or her own words, filling it out with the concerns on his or her heart that day. Keller advises that we do this at least once a week."

4. Free prayer. 
"Free prayer, as Keller explains, means simply to pour out your heart before the Lord in prayer. This is where we bring on all the supplications, petitions, prayer-lists, and anything on our heart that we want or need. This is the kind of prayer that we’re probably most familiar with. Helpful — indeed, God is our Father and we are his children and he loves it when we ask him for things — but J.I. Packer would warn us that this kind of prayer is only life-changing if it is not merely running down a “grocery-list,” but instead lifts each cause to God with theological reasoning and self-examination."

5. Contemplation. 
"Here, Keller points us to Jonathan Edwards who points us to the Lord: “Edwards described contemplation as times when we not only know God is holy, but when we sense — ‘”see'” and ‘”taste'” — that he is so in our hearts. Luther would say that this is like getting “lost” in some aspect of God’s truth or character. Either way, prayer is always enhanced when we end with praise and contemplation."

“Don’t be intimidated by these plans,” Keller adds at the end. He finishes with saying, “Follow the steps … without feeling the need to do all the specific proposals or answer all the questions within each part. Prayer will grow and draw you in.”

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