In a previous post I promised a review of “Prayer” by Tim Keller, so here it is! But I couldn’t just review it without also listing it as the “Best” book of 2014. A quick definition of what I mean by that: not only was it well written, researched, presented, etc. It was also the most personally impactful book of the year. I enjoyed many other books I’ve read this year, but I was transformed by Keller’s book and for that reason it captures this spot for 2014.
Keller’s newest book “Prayer” is stunning. In the introduction he states that books on prayer seldom “combine the theological, experiential, and methodological all under one cover” (1) and states that he intends to cover all three. A bold aim! And yet he accomplishes it skillfully and excellently.
The book’s structure is fairly simple: Keller moves from the abstract to the concrete, beginning with why we should pray (Desiring Prayer) and moving to what prayer is (Understanding Prayer) and then to practicing prayer (Learning Prayer), growing in prayer (Deepening Prayer) and practical suggestions and ideas for prayer (Doing Prayer).
Throughout the book Keller leads the reader to previous giants of the faith: Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Owen, Edwards, etc. He passes on their insights and teaching on prayer in a summarized and readable (*cough* Owen *cough*) manner, providing access to their works to many who might not otherwise have been able to read them.
An annotated bibliography gives the reader dozens of “next steps” in learning about prayer and the extensive footnotes reflect a level of mastery by Keller of the current and ancient material on prayer that is simply astounding.
So the book has something for everyone. If you have no idea where to begin with prayer, if you are looking for a deepening of your prayer life, or if you are looking for a way to ignite a passion for prayer that you either never have had or have lost, this is the book for you. If someone asked me what the ONE book on prayer is that they needed to read or to give as a resource for someone else, this would be my immediate and excited recommendation.
A final note is that this book has genuinely (already!) changed my prayer life. As someone who tends to live in the realm of the mind, thoughts, facts, and information, prayer has always been a struggle and a weak point where I’ve desired but rarely achieved growth. The methods and the teachings Keller presents in the book have been helpful, but above all else his insistence that prayer is something that must engage the mind AND capture the heart has been incredibly impactful! This book has already been (prayer-)life-changing and I’m sure the insights gleaned and lessons learned will continue to bear fruit in my life and the lives of countless others.
This is my book of the year for 2014, is Keller’s best book so far, and would get six out of five stars if I were able to give it. However you can, get a copy of this book and read it soon!