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When Im on My Knees: Devotional Thoughts on Prayer for Women Anita Corrine Donihue · 2003 · ‎Snippet view Found inside – Page 212

Nothing can ever keep me from You, my Lord, my Redeemer.

Are they the same thing? Is "away" being omitted here, or is "away" redundant and therefore not used in "keep me from you"? I am trying to understand why I hear this phrase often.

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    They can mean the same thing, but since "away" refers to some absence as a consequence of distance, I think in this scenario, it's more apt to say "from you" instead of "away from you." She's not talking about absence as a consequence of distance but is saying something more along the lines of "Nothing can ever keep me from You in prayer" or "Nothing can ever keep me from having You in my heart." May 21 at 14:03
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    to keep someone from something or someone is old-fashioned for keep someone away from someone or something. Today, we wouldn't say: He kept me from my son. We'd say: He kept me away from my son. It's sounds like the King James version of the Bible.
    – Lambie
    May 21 at 14:22
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    @Lambie: If what you're saying there is it's "old-fashioned" to omit away from the construction keep someone [away] from something, I disagree. Per this NGram, it's never been particularly common to include away, and that's still the case today. May 21 at 15:01
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    @FumbleFingers You can Ngram anything at all. My ex kept me away from my children versus My ex kept me from my children. Really? Do you mean: My ex kept me from seeing my children. [modern parlance]
    – Lambie
    May 21 at 15:06
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    @Lambie: As you say, one can NGram anything. One can also come up with any number of examples that work better or worse with the extra[neous] preposition. It was always extremely unlikely in Don't let me keep you AWAY from your work, for example. Maybe your ex+children example is just an "atypical" context. May 21 at 15:16
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Yes, the word "away" is being omitted here. In general (it's hard to explain specifically), the omission of the word "away" removes partially the sense of physical distance between the speaker and the object, and makes it more of a metaphorical distance (although also somewhat of a physical one). In this particular context, the object of the "keeping" is God, who is not actually a physical thing, and so the notion of a physical distance between the speaker and God is somewhat nonsensical, hence the meaning is more of a spiritual distance (in context) [^1].

As for general usage, I would say that the word "away" should always be included when one is talking about physical distance (e.g. "I want my stalker to keep away from me", or "I'm going to keep this ball away from the other team"). When talking about metaphorical distance, the word "away" can be included or not (e.g. "nothing can keep you from me" is a phrase usually used by someone in love, where the distance is both a physical one, but also a metaphorical one in terms of sending one's loving feelings to another; the phrase "nothing can keep you away from me" has a similar meaning in context but is much more referring to the physical than the emotional distance).

There is, of course, the third meaning raised in the comments which is where "to keep" takes the meaning of the verb "to prevent", e.g. "I don't want to keep you from your work" ("I don't want to prevent you from doing your work"). In this context, "away" can also be included ("I don't want to keep you away from your work"), but it is not common to do so, because the physical distance aspect is not as great (the latter has more of a meaning of the person being physically separated from their work and being prevented from going back to doing it, while the latter means more that the person is preoccupied with something else, even though they may physically be at their desk, which is the more common usage of that phrase). The phrase, for example, "the goalie keeps the opposing team from scoring a goal", would not make sense with "away" included, as the meaning of "keep" in this phrase is 100% "to prevent" and has no relation whatsoever to distance.

[^1]: With relation to God in particular, religious people often equate the spiritual difference between oneself and God with a physical one, and so, in the context of specifically God, one can include "away" even though the context is not physical at all.

(I don't know how to do footnotes on this thing, hopefully my formatting works, if anyone wants to edit this answer and create a proper footnote it would be appreciated)

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