How Did Tim Keller Learn to Pray?

Prayer is hard. If you struggle to maintain a consistent prayer life you aren’t alone. In fact that is precisely whey famed 17th century poet George Herbert wrote that prayer is a “heart in pilgrimage.” No he wasn’t talking about the pilgrims we celebrate during thanksgiving. He was talking about the pilgrim (much like the one in Pilgrim’s Progress or Canterbury Tales) who engage in a long, difficult, and exhausting journey. Prayer is a lot like that – prayer is a journey that will take our entire lives to grow in.

So when I say that prayer is hard you shouldn’t be surprised to hear that even Tim Keller (my pastoral hero) barely “learned” or as he himself says “discovered” prayer only in the second half of his adult life. Yes he prayed, but even then it was difficult, it was only in the fall of 1999 that he developed a disciplined, consistent, and powerful, intimate prayer life. How did he do it?

How Did Tim Keller Learn to Pray?

In his new book simply titled Prayer, he describes four changes he made to his life that affected his prayer life (pg 17):

  1. He took several months to go through the Psalms, summarizing each one.
  2. He added a time of meditation as a “transitional discipline” between his Bible reading and his time of prayer.
  3. He began to pray in the morning and the evening instead of just in the morning.
  4. He began to pray with greater expectation.

So those are the four steps that Tim Keller took to grow in his prayer life. What sort of things have you done that have been helpful in your own prayer life? I would love to hear what you did/are doing!


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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