Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jesus taught us to pray this way

The moment I know of a book that sounds remotely interesting to me I want to buy it and put it on my bookshelf. It takes active restraint to be patient enough to finish what I am currently reading (or at least getting close to finishing) before I purchase the next book in my never-ending que. But sometimes I am not always able to resist the urge and therefore some books have sat on the shelf for years without being opened. One of these books I was finally able to get to: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce A. Ware. After The Forgotten Trinity I figured this book would be a walk in the park, but I took away quite a few points especially in practically applying the Trinity to my life.

In fact, I didn’t make it too far in the read before I came face to face with something I hadn’t really considered before in-depth. I’d like to provide a lengthier-than-usual citation, but it is well-worth the read:

“Recall for a moment the opening line of Jesus’ instruction regarding how we should pray. “Pray then like this,” he said. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.” May I suggest something both clear and radical? If Jesus taught us to pray to the Father, then we ought to do this. For one reason or another, we sometimes follow a different practice. We may encourage our children, especially to open their prayers with, “Dear Jesus,” despite the fact that Jesus said to pray “Our Father in heaven…” Perhaps we do not think about prayer as we should because we do not understand the doctrine of the Trinity. As Jesus taught us, we should pray to the Father through the Son. Jesus Christ is the mediator. He is the one through whom we address the Father. He is the one who brings us access to the Father. He is the one who brings us access to the Father. Our prayers bring spiritual benefit only when we pray in his name. And prayers that bring fruit in the kingdom are those offered in the power of the Spirit. We pray as the Spirit prompts and urges us to pray. So prayer rightly understood-Christian prayer-is prayer to the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Spirit. To pray aright, we need a deep appreciation for the doctrine of the Trinity.” (Pg. 18).

My experience growing up was filled with Christians I looked up to who many of the time would begin prayer by first addressing Jesus. I quickly adopted the same practice. What I found for myself was that this practice allows one to easily forget about the Father – at least in remembering to address Him first, or at all. Looking back, I did vividly remember when a good friend of mine would pray a little differently: “Father, we come to You through Jesus, …” I thought this was the strangest thing I had ever heard because everyone I knew prayed primarily to the Son.

Bruce Ware makes an excellent point in his book that since Jesus taught us to begin our prayers by addressing the Father, we ought to first address the Father in our prayers. By this, I don’t think he means that we can’t address Jesus and the Holy Spirit in prayer because they are both divine Persons, sharing the one Being of God. What Ware is getting at is that the relationships and roles of the three divine Persons of God help us in how we ought to pray to each of the Persons and in what order. Scripture instructs us that the Father receives ultimate glory and is at the forefront of our attention. This is expressed even in prayer, by which we gain access to Him through the Son. Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and men, especially in prayer. Finally, we do this through the power of the Holy Spirit who guarantees our salvation and keeps us until the Day of Christ Jesus.

One would only come to this understanding by recognizing the truths of the Trinity as taught in the New Testament. The Apostles and prophets of the New Testament wrote about the one true God, who made Himself known as three distinct Persons. Three Persons, yet one true Being … and this not to be self-contradictory. The Trinity was one of the presuppositions plainly written throughout the New Testament. So many Christians know that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God, and yet are distinct Persons. But they could not explain the Trinity to a non-Trinitarian to save their life. And that’s okay – we’re all a work in progress. But, one of the wonderful blessings of knowing the doctrine of the Trinity is that this is how God has revealed Himself, and God wants His people to know Him. Accurate information about the true and living God has direct impact on all of life, even on every day things like prayer.

Wrapping up, if you find yourself unfamiliar with what the Trinity really is I would like to purposefully recommend the two books I previously mentioned to help you in your understanding of God. I didn’t feel like I had a good understanding of the Trinity until I read James White’s The Forgotten Trinity. Please read this book. Next, I would recommend Bruce Ware’s book as well.

25Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; 27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 16:26-27, NASB).

As always, thanks for visiting my little corner of cyberspace,


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