I’m currently re-reading Tim Keller’s excellent book on prayer. When you end up underlining a whole page in a book, it is a pretty good indication that the author has nailed something! That happened to me on page 20. Listen to what Tim Keller had to say about the Apostle Paul’s Prayers:
It is remarkable that in all of his writings Paul’s prayers for his friends contain no appeals for changes in their circumstances. It is certain that they lived in the midst of many dangers and hardships. They faced persecution, death from disease, oppression by powerful forces, and separation from loved ones. Their existence was far less secure than ours is today. Yet in these prayers, you see not one petition for a better emperor, for protection from marauding armies, or even for bread for the next meal. Paul does not pray for the goods we would usually have near the top of our lists of requests.
Does that mean it would have been wrong to pray for such things? Not at all. As Paul knew, Jesus himself invites us to ask for our “daily bread” and that God would “deliver us from evil.” In 1 Timothy 2, Paul directs his readers to pray for peace, for good government, and for the needs of the world. In his own prayers, then, Paul is not giving us a universal model for prayer in the same way Jesus did. 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.
I’m just starting to re-read Tim Keller’s Book on Prayerand was amazed (again) and the challenging and beautifully written quote from Flannery O’Connor on page 11:
“Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of the moon that I see and mt self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all of 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.”
“Christianity teaches that, contra fatalism, suffering is overwhelming; contra Buddhism, suffering is real; contra karma, suffering is often unfair; but contra secularism, suffering is meaningful. There is a purpose to it, and if faced rightly, it can drive us like a nail deep into the love of God and into more stability and spiritual power than you can imagine.” (Walking with God through pain and Suffering. Page 30)
On Sunday I’m going to speaking (briefly) on God’s love for the last the lost and the least. I’m so provoked!
Here is a little quote with a big punch by Tim Keller:
“We instinctively tend to limit for whom we exert ourselves. We do it for people like us, and for people whom we like. Jesus will have none of that. By depicting a Samaritan helping a Jew, Jesus could not have found a more forceful way to say that anyone at all in need – regardless of race, politics, class, and religion – is your neighbour. Not everyone is your brother or sister in faith, but everyone is your neighbour, and you must love your neighbour.”
“You cannot judge God by your calendar. God may appear to be slow, but he never forgets his promises. He may seem to be working very slowly or even to be forgetting his promises, but when his promises come true (and they will come true), they always burst the banks of what you imagined. . . . God’s grace virtually never operates on our time frame, on a schedule we consider reasonable.” (Tim Keller)