Tim Keller on Prayer

If we are honest, most of us will admit that we can do better in our prayer lives. But often it is hard to find good teaching about prayer or good models for prayer. Of course, we can always (and should) turn to the Bible for such things. But where to begin in our study? How do we bring together the vast amount of teaching and example the Scriptures given about prayer? And in what practical ways can we put what we learn into practice in our own lives?

Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church is one of those rare people who have both a strong understanding of the Bible’s teaching on prayer and plenty of experience in the practice of prayer. Even better, he has taught on both in various ways which are available on the net.

Keller’s teaching provides an excellent starting point for igniting new life and energy into our prayer lives.

Here is a list of Keller’s teaching on the theology and practice of prayer:

Print Resources

Audio Resources

Free mp3’s

Purchase  Real Spirituality and Beyond

  • Abraham’s Prayer for the City
  • Jacob’s Prayer for Joy
  • Moses’ Prayer for God
  • Hannah’s Prayer for Family
  • Heman’s Cry of Darkness
  • Paul’s Prayer for Experience
  • David’s Prayer at Death
  • Jesus’ Prayer for All Time

Purchase The Lord’s Prayer

  • Praying in the Spirit
  • I Sing in the Shadow of Your Wings
  • The Meaning of Free Grace
  • Ask Him!
  • The Lord Praying for Glory
  • The Lord Praying for Holiness
  • The Lord Praying for Mission

Purchase MCM 2005-2006

  • Kingdom Centered Prayer, pt 1 (mp3)
  • Kingdom Centered Prayer, pt 2 (mp3)
  • Personal Prayer (mp3)
  • Praying For Glory (mp3)
  • Praying the Psalms, pt 1 (mp3)
  • Praying the Psalms, pt 2 (mp3)

One of the most basic things that the gospel does is change prayer from mere petition to fellowship and the praise of his glory. Galatians 4:6-7 teaches us that when we believe the gospel, we not only become God’s children legally, but we receive the Spirit in order to experience our sonship. The Spirit leads us to call out passionately to God as our tender and loving Father. The Spirit calls out ‘Abba’ (4:7). In the very next verse Paul refers to this experience as “knowing God” (4:8). We do not just know and believe that God is holy and loving, but we actually experience contact with his holiness and his love in personal communion with him.

No one had a deeper insight into the gospel and prayer than Jonathan Edwards. Edwards concluded the most essential difference between a Christian and a moralist is that a Christian obeys God out of the sheer delight in who he is. The gospel means that we are not obeying God to get anything but to give him pleasure because we see his worth and beauty. Therefore, the Christian is able to draw power out of contemplation of God. Without the gospel, this is impossible. We can only come and ask for things- petition. Without the gospel, we may conceive of a holy God who is intimidating and who can be approached with petitions if we are very good. Or we may conceive of a God who is mainly loving and regards all positively. To approach the first “God” is fearsome; to approach the second is no big deal. Thus without the gospel, there is no possibility of passion and delight to praise and approach God.

– Tim Keller (from the article, “Prayer and the Gospel“)

**Since I first put up this blog entry, I noticed that a few of the links in the middle section were not working. Here is the main site folder for these files (talks given at Redeemer’s Ministry Community Meetings). They were all working a few weeks ago, so I suggest trying back later.

*** Checking back, Redeemer has moved the public/free download media folder into their pay site.  The post has been updated to reflect this.


  1. There is nothing special about Tim Keller. He is still practicing a form of “Christianity” that is really a worship of his own ego. His ego is his personal god. Like most “Christians”, Keller is in a state of self worship, calling this state of mind “god”. Keller has no new insights into Christianity.

  2. would you care to support that or just bask in the glow of your own ego for putting someone else down? :-)

  3. At the risk of sounding like an egoist myself – I was “asked” to leave a PCA church several years ago, partly due to something Tim Keller had written. (I had been a member of that church for over 20 years and a R.E. for about half that time.)

    So, I had a natural “dislike” of that man.

    Then, for some strange reason, I listened to a sermon of Keller.

    Now, I honestly believe he is the best preacher out there. (And, via sites like sermonaudio and DesiringGod and others I’ve heard many, many preachers).

    The PCA church I’m now a member of has no evening services – so, most Lord’s Day evenings I gather my wife and kiddies and we listen to a Tim Keller sermon.

    Why would you say: “His ego is his personal god”? That is a very strong, over-the-top accusation to make of any minister of the Gospel (not to say that it doesn’t ever apply.)

  4. thanks for the comment, brother. i’m curious to know what keller comment got you kicked out of a church! of course, if it’s not something you want to put on a site like this, i understand. hope you’re doing well now,

    blessings, john

  5. The Keller article was (I believe) mis-used. The article itself was good and helpful – based on my memory from 3+ years ago.

    It was his analysis of three camps w/in the PCA.
    1. Reformed Historical
    2. Reformed Traditional
    3. Reformed Evangelical

    Our small church was going through a “changing of the guards” – we had a new/young pastor and two new/young RE’s (of a Session w/ only three activity RE’s). New and young defined as – none of the men had been at the church for five years or more; and all three were mid-20’s to mid-30’s.

    They introduced some changes in the “ministry style” – specially, kids materials w/ pictures of Christ and a church-sponsored Super Bowl party.

    The later blew some circuits in my “reformed historical” brain and I went wild – trying to get the men to see these style changes involved doctrinal changes.

    They were too busy “shepherding” to discuss doctrine w/ one disgruntle off-duty elder. My wife and I were called to a double-top secret Session meeting.

    …and things got ugly – and sad. We were told “there are three camps in the PCA – we (the church) want to be in this camp and you two are in that camp – therefore you would be happier elsewhere.” [I was also told I was bi-polar; divisive and I would not be allowed to have any private conversations w/ any session member. Yet, when I requested a transfer to an even smaller PCA church w/ a 87 years old retired missionary as the acting TE, my membership was transferred with no concerns raised. Go figure.]

    Within 18 months all three men had left the church and the PCA – the TE even leaving the ministry to be a stay-at-home dad after he and his wife had their first.

    All that to say, Keller’s article was good and helpful – but, the way it was “used” left a very bad taste in my mouth – and it was several years before I stumbed across a Tim Keller sermon on the internet and listened. (If memory serves me right- I listened mainly to fault find. But, alas, I was the one who’s faults were found! :-)

    …and I do struggle w/ one thing: I’d say about 75% of the Keller sermons I’ve heard recorded at Redeemer, NYC have a female reading the Scripture during the service.

    In this world we shall have tribulation – but, He has overcome!

  6. Several of the mp3’s on prayer are not available. Is this because Redeemer now charges for them or can the links be fixed?

  7. I’m not sure Barbara. I will check it out in the next day or two and try to see what’s happening. Check this space soon :-)

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