How Tim Keller Seeks to Pray Without Ceasing

The Gospel Coalition | 10/22/2019 | Tim Keller
gbabii05 (Posted by) Level 3
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Like many other believers, I’ve always sought to have a time of devotion and prayer each morning. And like most other believers, I have found it a struggle to be consistent.

Imagine my surprise when I came across a place in John Calvin’s Institutes where he argues that, when it comes to daily prayer, once is not enough.

Calvin - Points - Exhortation - Thess - Course

Calvin points to the exhortation to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and says that, of course, every Christian should aspire to pray to God constantly through the day. But, he adds: “Since our weakness is such that it has to be supported by many aids, and our sluggishness such that it needs to be goaded, it is fitting each one of us should set apart certain hours for this exercise.”

Calvin taught that we should designate set times, though brief, during which “all the devotion of the heart should be completely engaged.” He proposed five times:

Observance - Hours—as - Debt - God

He immediately adds, “This must not be any superstitious observance of hours—as “paying our debt to God” and forcing him to hear us (3.20.50).

Though I knew about this exhortation years ago, only recently did I learn that Calvin actually prepared five prayers for these various times of day—and included them in his 1542/45 Geneva Catechism. They were meant to be examples for individuals and families to use. This encouraged me to use his prayers as a foundation for composing my own.

Others - Thing - Calvin - Examples - Something

I would encourage others to do the same thing I did with Calvin: take these as examples and use them to compose your own. Having something written, which I can read and use as a basis for prayer to God—and taking only one minute for each—has been extremely helpful for remembering the presence of God and the truths I learned that morning in Bible reading. It “frames” the entire...
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