For a book of average length, this is a comprehensive treatise on prayer. The author’s main thesis is that the Bible is central in prayer, because ‘prayer is the continuation of a conversation that God has started in Scripture’. We speak to God in response to the extent that we ourselves have been spoken to. Biblical prayer is very different from praying to an unknown God, or fanciful imagination, or projecting onto God our own preferences. We respond to God based on the revelation of himself and the promises in his word.

In fact, Keller’s book is marinated in scripture and the text positively drips with Bible references that illustrate and support his argument.

Structured as a smooth progression from theory to practice, Keller starts with why we want to pray, then how we understand what prayer is and how we can learn to pray. The author uses many quotes and important lessons from others.

The second half of the book develops the topic of deepening prayer through meditating on the word and seeking God’s face. Then Keller moves on to unpacking prayer in three dimensions: awe as we relate to God, intimacy as we confess and repent of our sins and struggle as we intercede for others. There are selections of daily prayers and patterns in the last chapter, followed by a bibliography and extensive notes.

I found Keller intellectually engaging, gospel-centred and well researched. My only reservation is that this book left me wanting more emotionally. Despite understanding his wise caution about allowing our emotions to trump theology, I would still love to have been inspired by more personal examples of heartfelt prayers. Overall though, this book has positively influenced my prayer life and made me reconsider my motives and my approach to my God.

PAUL VALLER is a mentor, author and speaker