PRAYER – A TRINITARIAN ACTIVITY, BY KIANG P LEE

“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of” –  Alfred Lord Tennyson

Greetings again Friends!

Prayer is the spiritual lifeblood of the Christian life. Without it we will languish spiritually and have listless Christian lives. But prayer, like everything else man does, has to be done right. If we are ‘praying wrong’ then apparently we will face the common obstacle called unanswered prayer. Then we begin to question ourselves about prayer and its benefits. Of course, there is no such thing as an unanswered prayer, there’s only the right and wrong way of praying. Just because we don’t know how prayers are answered, does not mean they are unanswered. Let’s talk prayer today!

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Praying Hands by Albrecht Durer (Wiki Commons) 

Prayer, as a subject of Christian living, can be considered and undertaken from various points of application. But I will keep to the foundational perspective of prayer, for it’s from the ‘trunk of tree’ perspective that we get to know if we are ‘praying right.’ First and foremost, prayer is a Triune activity, not a ‘solitary’ activity. Too many Christians are still praying ‘solitary’ prayers because they don’t know how to live the Triune Life.* (For an explanation of this term, “Triune Life,” go to the appendix below) Readers of this blog will know by now that in every issue concerning Christian faith, whether spiritual or physical/material, we always default to the Triune approach to find answers. By Triune I mean the involvement of the Tri-Personal Being of God in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not just Father, not just Son, or Spirit, for any one could easily be turned into “solitary” Personalities because we are naturally that way ourselves. No, all three are singularly expressed in the One Triune God-life.

Let’s begin with the prayer Jesus taught the disciples. It starts off this way, “Our Father in heaven…” (Matt.6:9) Right from the outset, Jesus places the Triune stamp of approval on His prayer model. If God is Father, then He is not alone, He is Triune for He has His Son and His Spirit with Him. Jesus said, “I and the Father are One” (John 10:30). And, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate (Spirit) to help you and be with you forever” (John 14:16). When we invoke the Father’s name in prayer, it means we are petitioning the One Tri-Personal Being of God. He’s not a solitary Father figure. The Tri-Personal God is held in one indivisible substance in their Love for each other. He is Tri-Personal because He is Love; and He is Love because He is a Tri-Personal Being. “God is Love” and thereby He is other-centered in His Triune existence (1 John 4:8). Man is self-centered and lives the ‘solitary life’ in himself. God (Love) is other-centered, man is self-centered. Love cannot exist in “solitary” confinement, by its very nature it thrives only in relationship – Loving relationship.

The self-centered life (solitary life) is driven by fear, not Love. Jesus said, “Anyone who Loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will Love them, and We will come to them and make our home with them. I am in the Father, and the Father in Me” (John 14:23, 9). The “Triune Life” enables humans to encounter the Triune God in and through Jesus.

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“Perfect Love” Comes to Man By the Life of the Trinity. Rublev’s Icon of The Trinity (Wiki Commons)

Here is the predicament of man in his prayer life, he has taken God to fit the grid of his solitary, self-centered, frame of reference. In his prayer he has placed God in his box to fit his self-centered way of life. God is Love and other-centered in His Triune Being, while man is altogether self-centered in himself, under influence of the devil. The Bible asks, “Can two walk together unless they agree?” (Amos 3:3). How can these two polar opposites be harmonized? It cannot, someone has to change. God is Love, so it is man who must change. Jesus calls people to a changed life, He said, “You must be born again (from above)” (John 3:7). We were born of the flesh with its self-centered way of life, now Jesus calls us to be born anew in the Spirit in God’s other-centered Triune way of life. (John 3:8) Paul says, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor.1:9). God our Father has called us to live the “Triune Life” through His Son thus forsaking the “solitary life” in the self. 

God’s covenant promise to man is, “I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit within you; I will remove form you your heart of stone” (Ezek.36:26; Heb.8:10). The presence of the Holy Spirit is the evidence of this new life. Paul said, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Rom.8:9b). He goes further, “The Spirit Himself  joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children” (Rom.8:16). From these passages we see that this changed life is lived in the move of the Spirit. We live it by faith, thereby, 99.9% of the time the Spirit is leading us without our conscious realization of His work. I call this the ‘miraculous life’ of the Spirit. Many times, only in retrospect, do we see His sure and unmistakable hand in our lives.

How does this affect our prayer life? The truth of the matter is, in this life of faith, it is actually Jesus and the Spirit who prays for us – we do not pray solitarily by or for ourselves. This is the “Triune Life” when it comes to our prayer life. The ‘solitary life’ is gone forever and buried in the waters of baptism, and from its watery grave a new person arises – our true self in the Spirit’s power, living the “Triune Life.” Paul said, “We were buried with Him through baptism into death (solitary life/false self) in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may have a new life (true self/ “Triune Life”)” (Rom.6:4, emphasis mine).

Jesus Prays for Us

Now listen to the promise in the Bible which confirms how Jesus and the Spirit prays for us. Paul said, “Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes (prays) for us” (Rom.8:34). We often forget that Jesus is our ever-present High Priest in heaven, who is our Intercessor at the Father”s right hand. And the role of the High Priest is to mediate between fallen man and God. As humans, we will never stop trespassing, and God will never stop forgiving through His Son’s mediation. Where there is a High Priest, there is of necessity an altar. One cannot do without the other. The altar is the place where sacrifice is made and presented before God. Jesus is both man’s permanent sacrifice (altar) and everlasting High Priest. He sacrificed for our sins once for all when He offered himself as the perfect sacrificial lamb. (Heb.7:26-28) We do not know how to pray perfectly in our fallen state of existence, but Jesus does. We do not know how to Love the Father perfectly in our depraved hearts, but Jesus does. They have been in their perfect and holy Love-relationship from eternity. (John 17:23-24)

As High Priest, He takes our prayers as our Mediator and perfects them in Himself, and presents us blameless before the Father – every time we pray:- “How? you ask. In Christ. God put the wrong on Him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” (2 Cor. 5;21, MSG). The Bible says, “This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all the same testings we do, yet He did not sin” (Heb.4:15, NLT). An example of Jesus’ prayer for us in heaven can be seen in His prayer at the last supper in John 17. This remains the most important and inspiring portion of scripture relating to Jesus’ prayer for all believers. No human could have prayed that prayer but Jesus alone, and He continues to pray for us today in heaven. I encourage you to read it. Here are two verse from His prayer for you to the Father, “My prayer is not for the world, but for those You have given Me, because they belong to You. All who are Mine belong to You, and You have given them to Me, so they bring Me glory…now protect them by the power of Your name so that they will be united just as We are…keep them safe from the evil one. Just as You sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world. And I give Myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth” (John 17:9,11,15, 18). That prayer for is believers like you and me is just magnificent as it is awesome in all its scope and reach.

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Jesus Prays to The Father for His Disciples and Believers at Last Supper, Read John 17 (Wiki Commons)

Jesus encourages us, saying, “I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask for anything in My name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14). Too many of us apply this passage from our narrow self-centered solitary approach. He told Philip, “He who has seen Me, has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Prayer always has this Trinitarian objective – to be in the presence of God’s Triune glory. This is the most awesome place from which all prayers are answered. You don’t need all your self-centered “gimme” prayers in the presence of divine glory. You need God’s authentic goodness for your life. You need God’s glory in your life. All the uncertainties of life, our worries and anxieties, our weaknesses and our burdens, our troubles and distresses, melt away in His glorious presence. Peter encourages us, saying, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you” (1 Pet.5:7, NLT). If we were somehow siphoned off into God’s presence, we would be so awe-struck by His glory we would be lost for words. We would know that His glory is all that’s required for life and living. Peter goes on to say, “In his kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus” (1 Pet.5:10, NLT).

God’s Glory

What is God’s glory? Moses had spent some time in communication (prayer) with God. Then he made this interesting but perceptive request, “Please, show me your glory” (Exo.33:18). This was God’s reply, “And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you (Exo.33:19a, NASB). So, God’s glory encapsulates all His divine goodness. All prayers are answered out of God’s goodness. But it goes on to say that His goodness is dispensed through His sovereign will: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Exo.33:19b, NASB). God’s goodness and sovereignty goes together and can’t be separated for He is God. His sovereignty decides if your prayer is for your ultimate good at this juncture in your life. God never denies good from us, the Psalmist said, “The LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psa. 84:11). “God is Love,” therefore, it’s impossible for Him to act in any way except for our total good in everything He does for us. (1 John 4:8) God is sovereign because He is omniscient and knows what’s best for each of us, in relation to His calling and destiny for us.

Then God gives Moses a vital aspect to his prayer request, “I will cause all my goodness (glory) to pass in front of you… Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the Rock. As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the Rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by, then I will remove My hand and let you see Me from behind. But My face will not be seen.” (Exo.33:21-22, NASB/NLT). The ‘Rock’ is symbolic of none other than Jesus. The Rock brings us into the presence of God’s glory. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). There are over 40 passages in the Bible declaring Jesus as our Rock, “The LORD lives, blessed be my Rock” (Psa.18:46; 1 Pet.2:6-7).

Moses’ Trinitarian Encounter

I hope we got the significance of this scenario: Moses was in the presence of the Triune God. All the power he saw around him in the mountain was the act of the Spirit. It tells us we enter the Father’s glory through none other than Jesus, our Rock, in order to receive the Father’s goodness (glory). Jesus is the complete reflection of the Father’s glory, “For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him (Jesus)” (Col.1:20).

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God’s Glory Seen in His Creation, “The heavens proclaim the Glory of God. The skies display His Craftsmanship” (Psa.19:1). (Wiki Commons)

Jesus answered Paul’s prayer for healing, saying, “My grace (glory) is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (2 Cor.12:9, NLT). His grace is His divine glory. Yet, the Bible says the Spirit reveals to us the deep things (glory/goodness) of God. (1 Cor.2:10). In Jesus prayer at the last supper before His crucifixion, He prayed thus, “I have given them the glory You gave Me, that they may be one, as We are one” (John 17:22). Goodness comes from our one union with the Triune God in  the “Triune Life.” When Adam and Eve lived in God’s glory in Eden, they lived the perfect human life that was and never has been experienced by humanity since. They lived the “Triune Life.” Try to imagine yourself as an empty riverbed. All that a dry riverbed requires is water. Water changes everything – it brings a river to life, it brings life, energy, and all good things to the dwellers in the valleys in the river’s flow. That is how God’s glory can be likened metaphorically. His glory is like “living waters” which changes everything for good, where no evil or wickedness could endure. (John 7:38-39)

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Dove, Symbol of Holy Spirit (Wiki Commons)

Herald* Prays for Us

The Spirit who resides in us “forever,” is the One who helps us to pray on earth, and takes our prayers to Jesus to be presented to the Father in heaven. (John 14:16) Paul said, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes (prays) for us through groaning that cannot be expressed in words” (Rom.8:26). Listen, it is impossible for a human to go before God and pray on His own in his fallen state of human existence. Our Father knows this, hence, He gave His Son and Spirit as gifts to be man’s “intercessors” – Jesus as our Savior, and the Spirit as our Helper. Think about this, if the Spirit is of one substance in the Triune Godhead in heaven, while, at the same time is with and in humans “forever” on earth, then He is transporting us spiritually into God’s glorious presence on a constant basis, especially in prayer. (1 Cor.6:19-20; John 14:16) In other words, Herald’s* (Spirit’s) oneness in the Triune Godhead makes our presence in Jesus and the Father’s glory possible. So, in essence and reality, man walks on this earth but he is energized from heaven. This is the “Triune Life” of God we are called to live as believers on earth today.

What I present here, you can say, is the most vital missing link in the Christian’s prayer life. Remember, as fallen Adamic humans we will always default to our “solitary” ways, but as Immanuel humans (Jesus-infused life) we allow the Spirit to live the “Triune Life” in us. I hope you will receive the “Triune Life” in Jesus so the Spirit can bring you into fellowship with your Loving Father in heaven.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to write me in the space provided below, or email me on bulamanriver@gmail.com.

Blessing:

Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessing of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven you and make all things concerning you possible in Triune Living as a Bulamanriver.** May you be strong in the Lord’s joy.

Kiang, (Your Servant in Christ)  

* Herald is the name I have come to personalize the Holy Spirit in my life. He is Friend, Helper, Intercessor, and Miracle-Worker, to each and every believer.                        

** Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book.

All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.

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