Prayer: A 14-Day Devotional by Tim Keller

The way forward to prayer for me came by going back to my own spiritual-theological roots. During my first pastorate in Virginia, and then again in New York City, I had the experience of preaching through St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. In the middle of chapter 8, Paul writes:

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. (vv. 15–16)

The Spirit of God assures us of God’s love. First, the Spirit enables us to approach and cry to the great God as our loving father. Then he comes alongside our spirit and adds a more direct testimony. I first came to grips with these verses by reading the sermons of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a British preacher and author of the mid-twentieth century. He made the case that Paul was writing about a profound experience of God’s reality. Eventually I found that most modern biblical commentators generally agreed that these verses describe, as one New Testament scholar put it, “a religious experience that is ineffable” because the assurance of secure love in God is “mystical in the best sense of the word.” Thomas Schreiner adds that we must not “underemphasize the emotional ground” of experience. “Some veer away from this idea because of its subjectivity, but the abuse of the subjective in some circles cannot exclude the ‘mystical’ and emotional dimensions of Christian experience.”

Excerpt from prayer by Timothy Keller
Reprinted by arrangement with Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2014 by Timothy Keller