My soul is yearning for your living stream
My heart is aching for you
All that I long for is found in your heart
You are.. everything I need..
You are the thirst, you are the stream
you are the hunger living deep inside of me
You are the food that satisfies
You are provision for the journey of our lives…
You Are Everything Brian Doerksen from the album “Today” (2005)
Christianity is unique among world religions for more than the revelation of God in Christ, even for more than the resurrection. Our faith is unique because we are Trinitarian. This means that we believe that in some sense God is three — a unity of persons — a community of love.
A lot of ecclesiology — the meaning of our existence as the Body of Christ in the world — is found in those words. It’s at least part of the reason that the book of 1 John is devoted to love and unity. In the mind of this disciple who walked with Jesus in his earthly existence for three years, God is not known if God is not loved. And we love God, even though we have not seen God, because His Spirit dwells in us and makes God known.
Our faith is unique in this — God is not distant in the heavens above. He is imminent – radically present — because he dwells within us. How can God be both in the heavens above and radically present? No other faith can make this claim, because no other faith has a God who is three-in-one. In John 14 Jesus reminds us that although he is leaving, we will not be orphans! Father, Son and Holy Spirit: this God can be both transcendent above and radically among us, working in the world.
And because God is three-in-one we must also relate to Him uniquely. I wanted to make a few notes on the uniqueness of our relationship to this God who is revealed to us as three-in-one. The nature and being of God determines how we know God, and also how we relate to God. And even more, this unique nature determines how God acts in the world. The Trinity is not then merely an ideal or a complex idea — it is a practical knowledge because God lives out his being through us in the world as three-in-one.
Nowhere is the reality of God’s nature and the way God acts in the world as God more obvious than in the books of Luke-Acts. In both the Gospel and in the continuing work of God in world, we see the power of God in the world, manifest through the church, in the person of the Holy Spirit. We are Jesus hands and feet in the world in the power of the Spirit, making the Father known. As William Cavanaugh put it, “We are God’s body language.”
And what I wanted to reflect on here is the nature of Christian prayer. Christian prayer is Trinitarian. Even where we are not aware that this is true, there is no Christian prayer that is not Trinitarian. And the implications are profound. So much that we call prayer is not intentionally Trinitarian, and it is weaker for that lack.
I opened this post with a quote from one of my favorite songs by the Vineyard song-writer Brian Doerksen. There is a lot to love about this song, but what I love the most is its embodiment of Trinitarian reality.
He is the beginning of our longing for God and its end.
He is the thirst. Add he is the fulfilment.
He is the life that flows in us, and its expression outward into the world. From him, to him, and through Him are all things.
At the end of chapter 12 of Luke we hear Jesus say,
“For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me
commanded me to say all that I have spoken.
I know that his command leads to eternal life.
So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
The Spirit indwells the body. By the Spirit we are connected to the Head of the body. To pray in Christ is to pray words that God inspires, back to God. To pray in the Spirit – the only truly Trinitarian prayer – is to pray as the Spirit enables.
A closer look at Paul’s words about prayer in Romans 8 follows this same expression. The Spirit himself intercedes for us. Yet it is WE who are in view in the passage, groaning with expressions we don’t understand. It is the Spirit who intercedes when we pray the words God gives.
Many believers think this passage refers only to the gift of tongues. The idea is that we pray what we don’t know in a language we don’t understand. I think the meaning is actually much wider than this.
There are times when I have not had any words to pray. I have a situation in mind, but I don’t know what to pray. In those times one of two things happens. First, I remain silent and simply hold the person or situation before God. I bring them to my awareness and into God’s presence with me. And then I ask God to make himself known. Sometimes I then am directed to pray. God originates that prayer and I know it will be effective. Other times, I know that God knows the need and I simply ask him and trust him to work as it pleases him.
Prayer that is Trinitarian – uniquely Christian – originates with God and then makes its way back to God. Prayer that does not originate in the Spirit is simply words put out on the wind. Some of it God will pick up and sort out. Some of it simply misses the mark. Often it is prayer that originates in our own wants and desires. It does not have the kingdom of God in view.
Pray in the Spirit at all times. In 1 Corinthians 2 Paul writes,
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep
things of God. For who knows a person’s
thoughts except that person’s own spirit within?
In the same way no one knows the thoughts of
God except the Spirit of God. We have not received
the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God,
that we may understand what God has freely given us.
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom
but in words taught by the Spirit,
explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.