“The Hidden Life of Prayer”, from David MacIntyre

In one of the cathedrals of Northern Europe an exquisite group in high relief represents the prayer life. It is disposed in three panels. The first of these reminds us of the apostolic precept, ‘Pray without ceasing.’ We see the front of a spacious temple which opens on the market-place. The great square is strewn with crowds of eager men, gesticulating, bargaining-all evidently intent on gain. But One, who wears a circlet of thorn, and is clothed in a garment woven without seam from the top throughout, moves silently through the clamorous crowds, and subdues to holy fear the most covetous heart.

The second panel displays the precincts of the temple, and serves to illustrate the common worship of the Church. White-robed ministers hasten here and there. They carry oil for the lamp, and water for the laver, and blood from the altar; with pure intention, their eyes turned towards the unseen glory, they fulfill the duties of their sacred calling.

The third panel introduces us to the inner sanctuary. A solitary worshipper has entered within the veil, and hushed and lowly in the presence of God, bends before the glancing Shekinah. This represents the hidden life of prayer of which the Master spoke in the familiar words, ‘But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense thee’ (Matt. 6:6, R.V.).

Our Lord takes it for granted that His people will pray. And indeed in Scripture generally the outward obligation of prayer is implied rather than asserted. Moved by a divinely-implanted instinct, our natures cry out for God, for the living God. And however this instinct may be crushed by sin, it awakes to power in the consciousness of redemption. Theologians of all schools, and Christians of every type, agree in their recognition of this principle of the new life.

Chrysostom has said, ‘The just man does not desist from praying until he ceases to be just;’ and Augustine, ‘He that loveth little prayeth little, and he that loveth much prayeth much;’ and Richard Hooker, ‘Prayer is the first thing wherewith a righteous life beginneth, and the last wherewith it doth end;’ and Père la Combe, ‘He who has a pure heart will never cease to pray, and he who will be constant in prayer shall know what it is to have a pure heart;’ and Bunyan, ‘If thou art not a praying person, thou art not a Christian;’ and Richard Baxter, ‘Prayer is the breath of the new creature;’ and George Herbert, ‘Prayer…the soul’s blood.’

And yet, instinctive as is our dependence upon God, no duty is more earnestly impressed upon us in Scripture than the duty of continual communion with Him. The main reason for this unceasing insistence is the arduousness of prayer. In its nature it is a laborious undertaking, and in our endeavor to maintain the spirit of prayer we are called to wrestle against principalities and powers of darkness.

‘Dear Christian reader,’ says Jacob Boehme, ‘to pray aright is right earnest work.’ Prayer is the most sublime energy of which the spirit of man is capable. It is in one aspect glory and blessedness; in another, it is toil and travail, battle and agony. Uplifted hands grow tremulous long before the field is won; straining sinews and panting breath proclaim the exhaustion of the ‘heavenly footman.’ The weight that falls upon an aching heart fills the brow with anguish, even when the midnight air is chill. Prayer is the uplift of the earth-bound soul into the heaven, the entrance of the purified spirit into the holiest; the rending of the luminous veil that shuts in, as behind curtains, the glory of God. It is the vision of things unseen; the recognition of the mind of the Spirit; the effort to frame words which man may not utter.

A man that truly prays one prayer,’ says Bunyan, ‘shall after that never be able to express with his mouth or pen the unutterable desires, sense, affection, and longing that went to God in that prayer.’

The saints of the Jewish Church had a princely energy in intercession: ‘Battering the gates of heaven with storms of prayer,’ they took the kingdom of heaven by violence. The first Christians proved in the wilderness, in the dungeon, in the arena, and at the stake the truth of their Master’s words, ‘He shall have whatsoever he saith.’ Their souls ascended to God in supplication as the flame of the altar mounts heavenward.

The Talmudists affirm that in the divine life four things call for fortitude; of these prayer is one. One who met Tersteegen at Kronenberg remarked, ‘It seemed to me as if he had gone straight into heaven, and had lost himself in God; but often when he had done praying he was as white as the wall.’ David Brainerd notes that on one occasion, when he found his soul ‘exceedingly enlarged’ in supplication, he was ‘in such anguish, and pleaded with so much earnestness and importunity,’ that when he rose from his knees he felt ‘extremely weak and overcome.’ ‘I could scarcely walk straight,’ he goes on to say, ‘my joints were loosed, the sweat ran down my face and body, and nature seemed as if it would dissolve.’

A living writer has reminded us of John Foster, who used to spend long nights in his chapel, absorbed in spiritual exercises, pacing to and fro in the disquietude of his spirit, until his restless feet had worn a little track in the aisle.

One might easily multiply examples, but there is no need to go beyond Scripture to find either precept or example to impress us with the arduousness of that prayer which prevails. Should not the supplication of the Psalmist, ‘Quicken Thou me, according to Thy word…quicken me in Thy righteousness…quicken me after Thy loving-kindness…quicken me according to Thy judgments…quicken me, O Lord, for Thy name’s sake;’ and the complaint of the Evangelical Prophet, ‘There is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee,’ find an echo in our experience? Do we know what it is to ‘labour,’ to ‘wrestle,’ to ‘agonize’ in prayer?

Another explanation of the arduousness of prayer lies in the fact that we are spiritually hindered: there is ‘the noise of archers in the places of drawing water.’ St. Paul assures us that we shall have to maintain our prayer energy ‘against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’

Dr. Andrew Bonar used to say that, as the King of Syria commanded his captains to fight neither with small nor great, but only with the King of Israel, so the prince of the power of the air seems to bend all the force of his attack against the spirit of prayer. If he should prove victorious there, he has won the day. Sometimes we are conscious of a satanic impulse directed immediately against the life of prayer in our souls; sometimes we are led into ‘dry’ and wilderness-experiences, and the face of God grows dark above us; sometimes, when we strive most earnestly to bring every thought and imagination under obedience to Christ, we seem to be given over to disorder and unrest; sometimes the inbred slothfulness of our nature lends itself to the evil one as an instrument by which he may turn our minds back from the exercise of prayer.

Because of all these things, therefore, we must be diligent and resolved, watching as a sentry who remembers that the lives of men are lying at the hazard of his wakefulness, resourcefulness, and courage.

‘And what I say unto you,’ said the Lord to His disciples, ‘I say unto all, Watch! ‘

There are times when even the soldiers of Christ become heedless of their trust, and no longer guard with vigilance the gift of prayer. Should any one who reads these pages be conscious of loss of power in intercession, lack of joy in communion, hardness and impenitence in confession, ‘Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.’

‘Oh, stars of heaven that fade and flame,
Oh, whispering waves below!
Was earth, or heaven. or I the same,
A year, a year ago!

‘The stars have kept their home on high,
The waves their wonted flow;
The love is lost that once was I,
A year, a year ago.’

The only remedy for this sluggish mood is that we should ‘rekindle our love,’ as Polycarp wrote to the Church in Ephesus, ‘in the blood of God.’ Let us ask for a fresh gift of the Holy Spirit to quicken our sluggish hearts, a new disclosure of the charity of God. The Spirit will help our infirmities, and the very compassion of the Son of God will fall upon us, clothing us with zeal as with a garment, stirring our affections into a most vehement flame, and filling our souls with heaven.

‘Men ought always to pray, and ‘-although faintness of spirit attends on prayer like a shadow-‘not faint.’ The soil in which the prayer of faith takes root is a life of unbroken communion with God, a life in which the windows of the soul are always open towards the City of Rest. We do not know the true potency of prayer until our hearts are so steadfastly inclined to God that our thoughts turn to Him, as by a Divine instinct, whenever they are set free from the consideration of earthly things.

It has been said of Origen (in his own words) that his life was ‘one unceasing supplication.’ By this means above all others the perfect idea of the Christian life is realized. Intercourse between the believer and his Lord ought never to be interrupted.

‘The vision of God,’ says Bishop Westcott, ‘makes life a continuous prayer.’ And in that vision all fleeting things resolve themselves, and appear in relation to things unseen. In a broad use of the term, prayer is the sum of all the service that we render to God, so that all fulfillment of duty is, in one sense, the performance of Divine service, and the familiar saying, ‘Work is worship,’ is justified. ‘I am prayer,’ said a Psalmist (Psa. cix. 4). ‘In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving,’ said an Apostle.

In the Old Testament that life which is steeped in prayer is often described as a walk with God. Enoch walked in assurance, Abraham in perfectness, Elijah in fidelity, the sons of Levi in peace and equity. Or it is spoken of as a dwelling with God, even as Joshua departed not from the Tabernacle; or as certain craftsmen of the olden time abode with a king for his work.

Again, it is defined as the ascent of the soul into the Sacred Presence; as the planets, ‘with open face beholding,’ climb into the light of the sun’s countenance, or as a flower, lit with beauty and dipped in fragrance, reaches upwards towards the light.

At other times, prayer is said to be the gathering up of all the faculties in an ardor of reverence, and love, and praise. As one clear strain may succeed in reducing to harmony a number of mutually-discordant voices, so the reigning impulses of the spiritual nature unite the heart to fear the name of the Lord.

But the most familiar, and perhaps the most impressive, description of prayer in the Old Testament, is found in those numerous passages where the life of communion with God is spoken of as a waiting upon Him. A great scholar has given a beautiful definition of waiting upon God: ‘To wait is not merely to remain impassive. It is to expect-to look for with patience, and also with submission. It is to long for, but not impatiently; to look for, but not to fret at the delay; to watch for, but not restlessly; to feel that if He does not come we will acquiesce, and yet to refuse to let the mind acquiesce in the feeling that He will not come.’

Now, do not let any one say that such a life is visionary and unprofitable. The real world is not this covering veil of sense; reality belongs to those heavenly things of which the earthly are mere ‘patterns’ and correspondences. Who is so practical as God? Who among men so wisely directed His efforts to the circumstances and the occasions which He was called to face, as ‘the Son of Man who is in heaven? ‘Those who pray well, work well. Those who pray most, achieve the grandest results. To use the striking phrase of Tauler, ‘In God nothing is hindered.’

The cultivation of the habit of prayer will secure its expression on all suitable occasions.

In times of need, in the first instance; almost everyone will pray then. Moses stood on the shores of the Red Sea, surveying the panic into which the children of Israel were cast when they realized that the chariots of Pharaoh were thundering down upon them. ‘Wherefore criest thou unto Me?’ said the Lord. Nehemiah stood before King Artaxerxes. The monarch noted his inward grief, and said, ‘Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart.’ That question opened the door to admit the answer to three months’ praying; and the hot desire that had risen to God in those slow months gathered itself into one fervent ejaculation, ‘So I prayed to the God of heaven.’

Again, one whose life is spent in fellowship with God will constantly seek and find opportunities for swift and frequently-recurring approaches to the throne of grace. The apostles bring every duty under the cross; at the name of Jesus their loyal souls soar heavenward in adoration and in praise. The early Christians never met without invoking a benediction; they never parted without prayer. The saints of the Middle Ages allowed each passing incident to summon them to intercession-the shadow on the dial, the church-bell, the flight of the swallow, the rising of the sun, the falling of a leaf.

The covenant which Sir Thomas Browne made with himself is well-known, but one may venture to refer to it once more: ‘To pray in all places where quietness inviteth; in any house, highway, or street; and to know no street in this city that may not witness that I have not forgotten God and my Saviour in it; and that no parish or town where I have been may not say the like. To take occasion of praying upon the sight of any church which I see, or pass by, as I ride about. To pray daily, and particularly for my sick patients, and for all sick people under whose care soever. And at the entrance into the house of the sick to say, ‘The peace and the mercy of God be upon this house.’ After a sermon to make a prayer and desire a blessing, and to pray for the minister.’ And much more of a like nature.

Once more, one who lives in the spirit of prayer will spend much time in retired and intimate communion with God. It is by such a deliberate engagement of prayer that the fresh springs of devotion which flow through the day are fed. For, although communion with God is the life-energy of the renewed nature, our souls ‘cleave to the dust,’ and devotion tends to grow formal-it becomes emptied of its spiritual content, and exhausts itself in outward acts. The Master reminds us of this grave peril, and informs us that the true defense against insincerity in our approach to God lies in the diligent exercise of private prayer.

In the days of the Commonwealth, one of the early Friends, ‘a servant of the Lord, but a stranger outwardly,’ came into an assembly of serious people, who had met for worship. ‘And after some time he had waited on the Lord in spirit he had an opportunity to speak, all being silent; he said by way of exhortation, ‘Keep to the Lord’s watch.’ These words, being spake in the power of God, had its operation upon all or most of the meeting, so that they felt some great dread and fear upon their spirits. After a little time he spake again, saying, ‘What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.’ Then he was silent again a little time, but the whole meeting, being sensible that this man was in some extraordinary spirit and power, were all musing what manner of teaching this should be, being such a voice that most of the hearers never heard before, that carried such great authority with it that they were all necessitated to be subject to the power.’

Soldier of Christ, you are in an enemy’s country; ‘Keep to the Lord’s watch.’

Source: David MacIntyre; “The Secret Life of Prayer: The LifeBlood of a Christian” (Published 2010)


“Faith-Filled Living Pours Peace”, from Linda Willows (walk love, pray from conflict)

the-praying-hands-dania-reichmuth (11)

“Faith-Filled Living Pours Peace” from L.Willows

Have you noticed that in the course of just one day, it is possible to encounter conflict and crises? Many of us don’t even need to go far to find it. Some live in regions that are immersed in a conflict that is not even their own. For the rest of us, we find that as the hours of a day compound, a kind of ‘atmosphere’ seems to arise in our midst and there we are. We are far from the peace that we long for. These are the times when we need to live with Faith-Filled hearts!

Of course, conflict plays havoc with the heart. It tosses us all into states that are not the best for action. There is a good guideline for such a day. We are advised to:

1. Pause; step back.

2. Assess; what is the atmosphere?

3. Pray; seek out God’s wisdom, and

4. Walk with Love.

It can all be found in Scripture. One example that I love is in Daniel. I remember when my Bible study group was reading about Daniel last year. I was in awe of how the Prophet Daniel of the Old Testament always paused to prayer whenever he was faced with crises. He would withdraw to his quarters and face Jerusalem to pray.

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled on his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.” Daniel 6:10

This reflected the oldest tradition.  Facing Jerusalem was a way of honoring God. The Temple of Solomon was in Jerusalem. In the prayer of Solomon, at the dedication, he said, “If thy people go out to battle against their enemy, whithersoever thou shalt send them, and shall pray unto the Lord toward the city which thou hast chosen, and toward the house which I have built for thy name.” From that time on all of the Hebrew people faced the Temple of God as a symbol of His Home when they prayed.

Daniel trusted God in the most extreme moments of crises. We can too. He always kept his head and heart clear regardless of conflict and crises in his midst. I noticed that he always paused and stepped away to pray before acting in every situation. He never acted without seeking the counsel of God. In prayer and in life, he praised God and put God’s will first. He was humble. He was completely faithful to God. 

The atmosphere of his heart, mind, and person was filled with his worship of God. His faith filled him with God’s Presence. Because he faced “Jerusalem” when he worships, and always filled himself with God’s Presence before taking action, he faced life with faith-filled actions. His life was an extension of his worship.

Well, we are not Daniels but we can do our best! We can learn from his wisdom. The next time you find yourself in the midst of conflict you can:

1). Pause; step back.

Try taking a breath from the situation. Step away if it is possible. Find a way to refresh your mind and heart with a pause before further action and thought. The goal is to interrupt any pattern or habit from the past that may be dictating a behavior or causing a reaction. You desire wise action, not a reaction. Some initial ways of pausing in our modern day world might be (as you prepare for prayer): breath! shift attention, walk,  briefly change activities.

2). Assess; what is the atmosphere?

When you assess it is important to be aware of noticing what you are using as an evaluation tool. Is it your experience? Is it your history? Is it your emotions? The evaluation tool that you are assessing the atmosphere with is as important as the measure that you come up with. So, we all need to recognize that we are not impartial assessors of atmosphere, we are each with an inborn bias. We need a way to see with wisdom. We need to beware getting too wrapped up in our mental states.

It helps to first feel and know our own hearts. First we “take our own temperature”. We ask how we are feeling. Sometimes we don’t know the answer, especially with conflict. We often hide from these feelings because they are so uncomfortable, sometimes unsafe. Perhaps we don’t want to lose the approval or love of the persons involved. There is often a loss of some kind involved in a conflict (reputation, relationship, love, self, recognition, pride, control) or fear of loss. These are powerful roots in all of us. We get them just by being born mortal.

By taking the temperature of your own heart and being honest about what you are feeling and saying on the inside it will help you to get to a peaceful resolution on the outside! We can react on the inside, but it may not match a situation with logic. We may be connecting to our own history with a situation rather than what actually happened. By listening to our heart (taking our temperature) we diffuse our need somewhat in that hour. 

We have much atmosphere that we carry within us but it is the atmosphere of God that we desire to walk in, that is the key to peaceful living! The atmosphere of God is His Presence. When we face God with Prayer and Worship we become faith-filled.

3). Pray; seek out God’s direction and wisdom.

After pausing and taking the time for an honest assessment, we are ready for prayer. Frankly, there are times when you need to hastily rush directly to prayer and skip the first two steps! We need God to review our heart and look into the situation. We will call him into all of it. When Daniel prayed he went to his room which was on the upper floor of a house. There were windows that he opened. He removed the “frames” from the windows so that he could see Jerusalem better before praying. This is all such a beautiful description of prayer and worship.

When we pray we are going to an upper room in the sanctuary of our own hearts. We are seeking to look to God. Before meeting with him in worship, we need to remove the ‘planks’ or frames in our own hearts that might impair our vision of him. We need to repent. Repenting is being honest before God who loves you. For me, sometimes I don’t even know what is going on in my heart. I need to ask God to help me to see my heart first. I ask in prayer, Lord- show me my heart; what is there that I need to see?

There is always an answer. It comes in small waves during or immediately after the prayer. And I am always surprised. Who me? I feel that! I thought that I already knew everything. Well, we always think that we know everything. That is how our minds keep us feeling protected. But it is false security. As you can see it gets toppled easily. The heart needs to be cleansed of whatever it is holding on to. Our minds need to let go as well. We need to surrender to His Will and His Goodness in this and all situations. Nothing lasts but the security of God’s peace. Prayer is the way to lift your heart out of any crises, any concern and to bring it to the altar of God. It restores you in His Presence.

You position yourself with God to receive His wisdom and direction for the next steps. 

4). Walk with Love.

When you have been filled with God’s Presence in prayer you walk in Love. Your heart has been loosened of what it was holding onto a while before. Things and circumstances look different now. It is possible that nothing has changed but you have. Your atmosphere has altered. You are faith-filled. We become filled when something greater than ourselves pours into us like water filling a vessel.

When we are abundantly filled it spills out generously from us like a love that must keep moving. That is how God’s Goodness moves through us. Even in times of conflict and crises. It is possible that things can appear more confusing temporarily before they become clear. I cannot see what God plans for each of us. I do know that he has a plan. I trust the plan. I rest in the plan.

I am praying right now that we each are moved to pause to always be brave enough to step away to be with God in times of conflict and crises. I ask that we become hearts that are responsible for our own atmosphere and that we each commit ourselves to know God, worship of him and learning humility before him. I desire that we all grow in prayer and enjoy a relationship with God.

Most of all, I pray that we walk in Love; that we each bear His Presence in our hearts and that it generously pours out into our lives. Faith Filled Living Pours Peace.

© 2019 Linda Willows

for more resources on Prayer see: PRAYER: Sources

on seeking peace amidst conflict see these articles on BELOVED: 

Christian Conflict Management by Gustav Adolfsson.
How Your Trials Can Create a Pleasing Aroma for God, by June Hunt; founder of Hope for The Heart.
The Great Story of Your Walk with God by John F. Walvoord.

photo: The Praying Hands by Dania Reichmuth

“St. Augustine’s Four Rules of Prayer”, from Tim Keller


St Augustine’s Four Rules of Prayer by Tim Keller

Anicia Faltonia Proba (died AD 432) was a Christian Roman noblewoman. She had the distinction of knowing both St. Augustine, who was the greatest theologian of the first millennium of Christian history, as well as John Chrysostom, who was its greatest preacher. We have two letters of Augustine to Proba, and the first (Letter 130) is the only single, substantial treatment on the subject of prayer that St. Augustine ever wrote.

I had the chance to read the letter over the Christmas holidays and was impressed with its common sense and some of its unusual insights. Proba wrote Augustine because she was afraid that she wasn’t praying as she should. Augustine responded with several principles or rules for prayer.

The first rule is completely counter-intuitive.

  1. St. Augustine wrote that before anyone can turn to the question of what to pray and how to pray it, they must first be a particular kind of person. What kind is that? He writes: “You must account yourself ‘desolate’ in this world, however great the prosperity of your lot may be.” He argues that no matter how great your earthly circumstances they cannot bring us the peace, happiness, and consolation that are found in Christ.

The scales must fall from our eyes and we must see that—if we don’t all our prayers will go wrong.

Second, he says, you can begin to pray.

  1. And what should you pray for? With a bit of a smile (I think) Augustine answers you should pray for what everyone else prays for: “Pray for a happy life.” But of course, what will bring you a happy life? The Christian (if following Augustine’s first rule of prayer) has realized that comforts and rewards and pleasures in themselves give only fleeting excitement and, if you rest your heart in them, actually bring you less enduring happiness. He turns to Psalm 27 and points to the Psalmist’s great prayer:

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, one thing will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord to behold the beauty of the Lord.”

This is the fundamental prayer for happiness. Augustine writes: “We love God, therefore, for what He is in Himself, and [we love] ourselves and our neighbors for His sake.”

That doesn’t mean, he quickly adds, that we shouldn’t pray for anything else other than to know, love, and please God. Not at all. The Lord’s Prayer shows us that we need many things. But if God is our greatest love, and if knowing and pleasing him is our highest pleasure, then it transforms both what and how we pray for a happy life.

He quotes Proverbs 30 as an example: “Give me neither poverty nor riches: Feed me with food appropriate for me lest I be full and deny you…or lest I be poor, and steal and take the name of my God in vain.”

Ask yourself this question. Are you seeking God in prayer in order to get adequate financial resources—or are you seeking the kind and amount of resources you need to adequately know and serve God? Those are two different sets of motivations.

In both cases the external action is a prayer: “Oh, Lord—give me a job so I won’t be poor” but the internal reasons of the heart are completely different. If, as Augustine counseled, you first became a person “desolate without God regardless of external circumstances”—and then began to pray, your prayer will be like Proverbs 30. But if you just jump into prayer before the gospel re-orders your heart’s loves, then your prayer will be more like: “Make me as wealthy as possible.” As a result, you will not develop the spiritual discretion in prayer that enables you to discern selfish ambition and greed from a desire for excellence in work. And you will be far more crestfallen if you have financial reversals. A Proverbs 30 prayer includes the request that God not give you too much, not only that he not give you too little.

The third rule was comprehensive and practical.

  1. You will be guided, he said, into the right way to pray for a happy life by studying the Lord’s Prayer. Think long and hard about this great model of prayer and be sure your own appeals fit it. For example, Augustine writes: “He who says in prayer… ‘Give me as much wealth as you have given to this or that man’ or ‘Increase my honors; make me eminent in power and fame in the world,’ and who asks merely from a desire for these things, and not in order through them to benefit men agreeably to God’s will, I do not think he will find any part of the Lord’s Prayer in connection with which he could fit in these requests. Therefore, let us be ashamed to ask these things.”

The fourth rule is an admission.

  1. He admits that even after following the first three rules, still “we know not what to pray for as we ought in regard to tribulations.” This is a place of great perplexity. Even the most godly Christian can’t be sure what to ask for.

“Tribulations…may do us good…and yet because they are hard and painful…we pray with a desire which is common to mankind that they may be removed from us.”

Augustine gives wise pastoral advice here. He first points to Jesus own prayer in Gethsemane, which was perfectly balanced between honest desire “let this cup pass from me” and submission to God “nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” And he points to Romans 8:26, which promises that the Spirit will guide our hearts and prayers when we are groaning and confused—and God will hear them even in their imperfect state.

Anicia Proba was a widow by her early 30s. She was present when Rome was sacked in 410 and had to flee for her life with her granddaughter Demetrias to Africa where they met Augustine.

Augustine concludes the letter by asking his friend, “Now what makes this work [of prayer] specially suitable to widows but their bereaved and desolate condition?” Should a widow not “commit her widowhood, so to speak, to her God as her shield in continual and most fervent prayer?” There is every reason to believe she accepted his invitation.

See Augustine’s Letter 130 (AD 412) to Proba found in Philip Schaff, ed., “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” First series, vol. 1, 1887. Christian Classics Ethereal Library pp. 997-1015.

This article originally appeared in Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s monthly Redeemer Report. Used with permission.

Timothy Keller
Timothy Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, which he started in 1989 with his wife, Kathy, and three young sons.

From L.Willows: explore further resources on Prayer- PRAYER: Sources

“The Way of Valor and Love”, Scripture and Prayer from L.Willows (honor God, fasten to His will)


Saul also went to his home at Gibeah, and with him went men of valor whose hearts God had touched. (1 Samuel 10:26)

It is said that a God-touched heart is one that is sympathetic to Him, one that is steadfast, leans towards Him and enjoys His comforting. A God-touched heart is sustained by God, is molded by His will, sincere and able to endure!

The Greek word for touch is Haptomai. It means to fasten one’s self to, adhere to, cling to. When God touches our heart with His Love, it causes us to fasten ourselves to Him with greater love and purpose.

God touches our heart for a purpose. He is calling us toward Himself. When we are called in this holy way, the Light of His Spirit touches our heart and illumines what He wishes us to see in new ways. Some call this ‘conviction’. We need to look more truthfully at something that is in front of us in our lives.

God is holding his mirror up before us and showing a new picture with a perspective that was formerly unknown to us. Sometimes this feels shocking, almost electric! And it is because we are seeing with ‘new eyes’.

Our hearts, touched by God have been renewed by His touch. It is taught in scripture that we have eyes in our heart to “see” from. In such times of deep connection, we not only see with greater acuity but are also encouraged (given courage and strengthened by God) to move forward and fulfill His purpose.  Each of us has callings and purpose that move us into deeper and deeper degrees of our sanctification. This is our walk with God, the way of valor and love.

This is the beginning of true valor, it a heart touched by God that is able to fulfill His will. It is one that is compelled to action that has a purpose imbued by God. It is a life that praises God with heart, mind and being.

Prayer for Valor and Love

Today I look to you with a heart asking to know you more fully.
I praise the majesty of your approach.
All of me is silent as I wait for you. 

I let myself be washed ashore like a youth, my mortal will in surrender.
Let everything that was, be the past and may all become new again!
Make my heart in You. Touch me with your Love, your will, your purpose.

Only you, Lord can fasten me to your will and to your love,
Towards the All of YOU. Take me In and love my all. 
Fill me with your Peace. Fill me with Love’s Call.

Before You, I commit my heart towards your love and purpose.
Praising You. I thank you for filling my heart with your Comfort.
Raising all before You Lord, I thank you for filling me with Your Peace
and lifting the eyes of my heart to the steadiness of your Love.

In Jesus Name,

© 2019 L.Willows