Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Praying with the Grain

Reflection on the book: "The Deepest Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything" by Fred Sanders (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010)

In explaining "how the Trinity changes everything" Sanders makes a relational connection between our understanding of the Trinity and the way we engage with the triune nature of 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 Holy Spirit.  This 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 recognise it or not.  Aligning with it means praying with the grain instead of against it.” (Sanders, p. 211)

The idea of “praying with the grain” is really about understanding the nature and distinct identities of God and engaging with them in a way that reflects an intimate relationship.  When I converse with an acquaintance, the conversation rarely moves beyond polite introductions, comments about the weather or superficial enquiries about well being.  However, when I connect with a person out of a deeper relationship, the conversation follows the grain of the friendship into the realm of feelings, family and faith.

Praying with the grain allows me to address God as “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15) and converse with Him as a son would with his dad. When I connect with the father love of God in prayer, my heart aligns with His heart. 

Praying with the grain invites me to engage with Jesus who provided access to God through His surrender to His Father’s will. When I surrender to Jesus in prayer I am dying to myself and quit trying to bridge the gap between my brokenness and God’s holiness by my own will, intellect and actions.

Praying with the grain immerses me in the Spirit who empowers me to pray according to “what the Spirit desires” (Romans 8:5) and informs my prayers by interceding on my behalf (Romans 8:26).  Praying in the Spirit connects me with the indwelling presence of God.

This “theologically correct” way to pray, as Sanders puts it, empowers my prayer life by being aligned with the Trinitarian reality of God.  It invites me into the “always already conversation going on among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (Sanders, p. 214) and enables me to communicate with God in the fullness of the Trinity.

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