Gleaning - Trinitarian Prayer
In today's Morning Prayer we read from Acts 13, taking particular note of verses 2-4; what they teach us about prayer and how we are to understand the Holy Ghost in the context of the Trinity. The New Testament is full of examples of how we are to think of the Trinity. This is but one.
"Now as they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them. [skip] And they after they were sent forth of the holy Ghost, came down unto Seleucia, and from thence they sailed to Cyprus."
In other words, we are to think of the Holy Ghost as the one who answers our prayers in both word and action. This is consistent with other Biblical texts. The Biblical pattern of Christian prayer is very precise concerning how we are to form our prayers.
- Pray to the one eternal God like this, "Our Father which art in heaven..." He is the king in whose court our prayer is heard. He is the only one to whom we may address our prayer.
- Pray in the name of the Jesus Christ, the Son of God who pleads our case before the Father. We approach the Father in Jesus' name because by no other name do we have standing before the throne of God.
- Pray by the power of the Holy Ghost and by His power alone, expecting in faith that God's answer will be delivered by the same Holy Ghost who proceeds from both the Father and the Son.
To be Christian is to be precisely Trinitarian
There is a singular pattern of prayer in the New Testament and we do not do well to follow that pattern loosely and carelessly. For example we don't pray "to" Jesus but rather we pray in His name and because of what He has done to give us standing in God's kingly court. Neither do we pray "to" the Holy Spirit but rather we pray by His help that God will answer according to the comfort which He affords us.
While we grant the title "Lord" and "Almighty" and "Eternal" to every member of the Trinity, we propose to understand the distinctions and to pray to our heavenly Father in the name of our savior Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Ghost our Comforter. Our three creeds are clear on the matter of unity and diversity. Here is how the Athanasian Creed puts it, "neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance."
- And the Catholick Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity;
- Neither confounding the Persons : nor dividing the Substance.
- For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son : and another of the Holy Ghost.
- But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one : the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal.
- Such as the Father is, such is the Son : and such is the Holy Ghost.
- The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate : and the Holy Ghost uncreate.
- The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible : and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible.
- The Father eternal, the Son eternal : and the Holy Ghost eternal.
- And yet they are not three eternals : but one eternal.
- As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated : but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible.
- So likewise the Father is Almighty, the Son Almighty : and the Holy Ghost Almighty.
- And yet they are not three Almighties : but one Almighty.
- So the Father is God, the Son is God : and the Holy Ghost is God.
- And yet they are not three Gods : but one God.
- So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord : and the Holy Ghost Lord.
- And yet not three Lords : but one Lord.
- For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be both God and Lord;
- So are we forbidden by the Catholick Religion : to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords.
- The Father is made of none : neither created, nor begotten.
- The Son is of the Father alone : not made, nor created, but begotten.
- The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son : neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.
- So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons : one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts.
- And in this Trinity none is afore, or after other : none is greater, or less than another;
- But the whole three Persons are co-eternal together : and co-equal.
- So that in all things, as is aforesaid : the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshipped.
- He therefore that will be saved : must think thus of the Trinity.