“When you pray, say “Father…”
Fred Sanders has written an extremely helpful book explaining the doctrine of the Trinity entitled The Deep Things of God, How the Trinity Changes Everything (Crossway, Wheaton, Illinois, 2010). His book introduces the reader to a wide variety of other helpful material which expanded this readers understanding and appreciation of the place of the Biblical Doctrine in practical Christian living. I introduce this blog entry with a reference to this book because Sanders concludes his book with a chapter on the impact of the Trinity on the prayer life of the believer. Over the past several months I have been finding myself increasingly convicted regarding the need for believers to join together in prayer for a renewed outpouring of the Spirit of God in revival. As I have been praying about this, and seeking to encourage others to join together in prayer for revival something interesting has been happening with me. It is as if the Lord has enrolled me in School once again. The course of study is the development of a life of Intercessory Prayer which is fully Biblical. I have been finding myself thrust into situations where I have been forced to learn what it is to truly pray.
It is here that Fred Sanders has been so helpful because he introduces us to Biblical Triune Praying, which he calls praying with the grain. I want to whet our appetites for this type of praying with an extended quotation from Sander’s chapter on prayer, pages 211-212.
“It is because of God’s triunity that we have communion with God in prayer. Once we understand that the Christian life is constituted by the Trinity, we have an opportunity to pray in a way that is consistent with that constitution. If the Spirit unites us to the Son and reconciles us to the Father, we have an invitation to pray accordingly: to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. This is not just the “theologically correct” way to pray but a way of praying that draws real spiritual power from being aliened 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.
Wood has a grain to it. The long fibers that make up a piece of wood all run in one direction, and a wise woodworker will always find the direction of the grain before starting to work. He can work along the grain or cut across it, but he avoids planning or sanding against that grain because that is to invite a clash with the directionality built into the piece of wood. Paper has a gain as well, which is why you can tear straight lines down the page but not across it. Cat fur has a grain, and if you stroke a cat against that grain, the results are not good for felines or humans. When you work with the grain of the wood, or the paper, or the cat, things go well. When you go against the grain, either because you are oblivious to the structural forces involved or because you consider them negligible, things do not go as well.
The act of prayer has, metaphorically speaking, a grain to it. Prayer has an underlying structure built into it, complete with a directionality that is worth observing. This grain is Trinitarian, running from the Spirit through the Son to the Father. It is a built-in logic of meditation, designed that way by God for reasons deeper than we are likely to fathom. But we do not need to understand it in order to benefit from its solid structural integrity. Nor do we need to take special lessons in praying in a properly Trinitarian fashion. The possibility of praying in a more Trinitarian way is all promise and no threat, all invitation and no danger. Christian prayer is already thoroughly, pervasively, structurally Trinitarian whether you have been noticing it or not. The only thing you have to add is your attention, to begin to taking notice of what’s Trinitarian about prayer.”
What Sanders introduces here is the fact that prayer is an invitation to join with the Father, Son, and Spirit in their communion. We have help as we seek this because God’s Word tells us that both the Son and The Spirit are interceding for us. This is the thing I have been learning about prayer for revival. It is at its heart a seeking to know God as He has revealed Himself to us. Are we truly seeking to know and love Him?