What does Trinitarian Prayer look like?

In continuing our series on Delighting in the Trinity: A Look at Trinitarian Prayer, today we focus on what is a Trinitarian prayer, what does it look like and start laying the groundwork for how to do it.

Trinitarian Prayer

A solid prayer life is instrumental in the life of a thriving Christian. As believers submit to God and bring their requests, petitions, concerns and thanksgivings to the Father, they notice that the fellowship and intimacy with the Triune God grows exponentially. They desire to talk with the Father, Son, and Spirit in all things about every aspect of their life. With the background on prayer and why it is good to pray, a Trinitarian model of prayer is to be presented. That is, a model of prayer that identifies and understands the distinct characteristics of each member of the Trinity and prays accordingly to each following the example of Christ.

The traditional theologically correct way of Trinitarian prayer is to pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This answers the question, “Who should I pray to?” As a piece of wood or slab of meat that has a distinct grain to it, so does prayer. “Praying to the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit is not just the ‘theologically correct’ way to pray but a way of praying that draws real spiritual power from being aligned with reality. The reality is that Christian prayer is already tacitly Trinitarian, whether we recognize it or not. Aligning with it means praying with the grain instead of against it.”[1] The “grain” that Sanders mentions runs from the Spirit through the Son to the Father. Prayer designed by God has the built-in structure of mediation and directionality that has been there and more than likely we have been missing.

Prayer follows a standard that reflects the order of the Trinity.[2] It is important to know what those roles are and how the roles of each Person of the Trinity are distinguished. We pray to the Father because He has absolute and uncontested supremacy, including authority over the Son and the Spirit. Yet, as finite creatures, the only way we can come to the Father is on the basis of Christ, who alone is the Mediator between God and men. We come in His name by His authority because of His grace. The words “In Jesus’ name, Amen,” are not empty words we tack on at the end of prayer, but are the difference between a prayer that reaches the Father and just mere words. The only way we come to the Father, in the name of Jesus, is by the power of the Spirit inside of us conforming us into the likeness of Christ helping us honor Christ by praying the will of Christ for His kingdom.[3] That is why we must pray at all times “in the Spirit.” Thus, Christian prayer recognizes the eternal order reflected in the Trinitarian relations among the Persons of the Godhead.[4]

[1] Fred Sanders, The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 212.

[2] Bruce A. Ware, Father, Son, & Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles & Relevance, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2005), 153.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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