Thirty years ago, most of America’s influential evangelicals resided below the Mason-Dixon line. In recent years, however, the power balance has shifted.
Purpose-driven pastor Rick Warren is situated in sunny Southern California, mega-church minister Bill Hybels has built a Chicagoland empire, and Tim Keller has helped make New York City a growing haven for the faithful. Keller is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including “The Reason for God,” and was named one of the most influential religious figures by New York Magazine. He’s become successful by being smart, a phenomenon that makes the oft-dismissed faithful giddy.
But the revered minister has now shifted his focus to a more personal topic: prayer. Tomorrow, he releases a new book, “Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God,” which is already pre-selling strong on Amazon. Here, Keller offers practical advice on the topic and defends his claim that prayer is “the key to everything we need to do and be in life.”
RNS: People in nearly every civilization throughout history have had an instinct for prayer. A recent Pew study found that 17% of non-believers even say they pray regularly. What do you make of this?
TK: Prayer is a response to the knowledge you have of God, and everyone has at least some knowledge of deity, according to Romans 1. Reformer John Calvin taught that, because we are made in the image of God, we all have a divinitatis sensum or some sense of God’s reality. And Puritan theologian John Owen said that the natural impulse to pray is present in all people.
RNS: Does God hear the prayers of a non-believer, in your opinion? Does God respond to a non-believer’s prayer?