I’ve been reading Tim Keller’s book Prayer for the last week or so. But I’ve been trying to read it on the bus, which is not really working, and I think I will begin again at home with a pencil and notebook.
It’s both convicting and encouraging – makes one feel like the worst pray-er ever but also gives hope of improvement. In one section he works through what Augustine, Luther and Calvin had to say about prayer, and their treatment of the Lord’s Prayer, and so here is a part from “Thy Will Be Done”:
Luther adds, following Augustine, that without this trust in God, we will try to take God’s place and seek revenge on those who have harmed us. We will be protected “from the horrible vices of character assassination, slander, backbiting ... condemning others” only if we learn to commit ourselves to God. If we can’t say “thy will be done” from the bottom of our hearts, we will never know any peace. We will feel compelled to try to control people and control our environment and make things the way we believe they ought to be. Yet to control life like this is beyond our abilities, and we will just dash ourselves upon the rocks. This is why Calvin adds that to pray “thy will be done” is to submit not only our wills to God but even our feelings, so that we do not become despondent, bitter, and hardened by the things that befall us.(From George Herbert's poem Discipline.)
George Herbert expressed it with beautiful economy:
For my heart’s desire
Unto Thine is bent:
To a full consent.