In pursuit of developing a healthier prayer life and cultivating a stronger understanding of God, I have begun researching more on this topic. Currently, I’m reading Timothy Keller’s book on prayer, which has been very clarifying. In the book it outlines two main ways that people have approached prayer: 1. To commune with God, 2. To bring God’s kingdom. People from each perspective have argued their position on prayer for years. In this post we will explore these two prayer approaches.
This is prayer that seeks God’s face, which enriches the person’s relationship with God. When we are thinking about prayer it is helpful to go to Psalms, as it is has been held for a long time as the bibles prayer book. In it we can see the psalmists crying out for more communion with God. Psalms 27, 63, 84 and 131 are all some of the places where the writers are desiring more intimacy with God. In Psalm 27, David says the primary thing he asks God for “is to gaze upon God’s beauty.” Obviously, prayer is the means in which God uses to enhance relationship.
This prayer can be thought of as wrestling with God to act in the world for his glory. Some of the Psalms that contain pleas of help and God’s intervention are 10, 13, 39, 42-43 and 88. Psalm 10:12 has a clear call for God to act, “Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.” There is also very clear scriptural support for prayer that seeks God to act in the world.
These two views of prayer both have strengths and perhaps aren’t supposed to be pitted against each other. Timothy Keller clearly explains: “We must know the awe of praising his glory, the intimacy of finding his grace, and the struggle of asking his help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of his presence.” I like Keller’s conclusion because prayer isn’t one or the other but both. We are to seek him personally to join into community with him and also to ask his help to transform the status quo. This balanced perspective is something that I hadn’t had till recently, or at least hadn’t practiced till recently.