Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tim Keller's words are haunting me

"The Prodigal God" is a wonderful book. Wonderful yet also altogether devestating in so many ways as well. Keller has the uncanny ability to gracefully point out exactly where so many Christians are huge, huge hypocrites (or perhaps reveal how they're not Christians at all). If you haven't heard of the book or haven't read it, you really need to - click here to check it out. It's a small book and a quick read. I first read it in April of last year and am now reading through it for the third time with a small group of high school guys on Tuesday mornings.

In the book Keller addresses what he refers to as "elder brother lostness". This is, in essence, the person who is religious or moral, and tends to think of themselves as better than others for their moral achievements and clean record. They very often fill our churches and can be smelled a mile away by their younger brother counterparts - which is why, Keller argues, so many younger brothers like Jesus but despise the so called "institute" of the church. Anyways, that's not my point today - my point today is that Keller's words in chapter 4 have haunted me since I first read it back in April.

Keller writes, "The last sign of the elder-brother spirit is a lack of assurance of the father's love." He then continues later to say that the clearest symptom of this lack of assurance is a dry prayer life. This is the part that has haunted me because this is, sadly, so often an accurate description of my prayer life. But what I'm realizing is that the answer to a dry prayer life isn't necessarily "try to pray more" - this would be continuing the cycle of trying my hardest to do something that pleases God. What I need is to ask God to change my heart so that I want to pray more. So I want to connect with him, and so I want to praise him spontaneously and with no strings attached. I can't tell you how many times in the past few months I've caught myself about to do something or say something which I need to be totally dependent on the Lord for and yet am about to start into it without seeking his guidance, his peace, his wisdom, or anything else.

So, Lord, what I'm saying is that I want a deeper, more intimate prayer life with you. I want to want you. I want to want communion with you throughout my day. Work in my heart in such a way that my first thought isn't a to-do list for you but a myriad of praises for how wonderful you are, how gracious you have been to me, and so on. Change my heart so that I want to spend time in prayer more than be with anyone else, or more than I want to watch that show or that game, or whatever else I may want more. Keep me centered on you so that when things do go wrong, when I disappoint myself or someone disappoints me, my first instinct isn't to question your sovereignty and kindness but to run to your arms and be with you. Thank you for your patience with me - you have given me so many gracious blessings and I praise you for every one of them. I do love you and am eager to grow in wisdom and knowledge of you. Amen.

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