In Praying, J.I. Packer wrote, “True praying is an activity built on a theology.”¹ What is this theology upon which our praying rests? What is it about God that makes praying possible, effectual, and joyful?
God is one being in three persons. We call this the Trinity. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and yet he still exists as one God. Each person of God relates to the others in ways revealed in the Bible. For example, the Father sent the Son, the Son glorified the Father, and the Holy Spirit was given to us by the Father at the request of the Son (John 3, 14, 17). This is a great mystery, one that we will never fully understand in this life, though we joyfully affirm it to be true.
This theology of God as three persons in one being is the foundation of our praying.
We pray to God our Father. When Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he first told them to say, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.” The great privilege of a Christian is to be a child of God who calls him “Father.” Due to our earthly relationships, there may be some relearning that needs to happen for us to sense the joy of approaching God as Father, but it will be worth it. Our Father is good and wise, so he does good in the way that is best for us. Someday we will see this clearly. Today we walk by faith in our Father’s love.
We pray through the work of God the Son. God becomes our Father and we become his children by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is God the Son who took on humanity and came to die for our sins. His death makes prayer possible. Every time we say, “Our Father”, we do so because Jesus removed our sin and opened the door for us to pray.
We pray in the power of God the Spirit. Christians have the Spirit of God residing in their hearts. The Holy Spirit prompts us to turn to God in prayer and call him our Father. When we pray, we are doing so “in the Spirit”.
How can this theology of God encourage our praying? First, keep in mind that you don’t have to be a theologian to pray well. The best praying happens when a child calls out to the Father in faith and hope.
Second, think enough about the God to whom you are praying to appreciate how each person of the Trinity is involved in your prayers. Take time as you bow your head to acknowledge that God your Father is listening, God the Son has made this prayer possible, and God the Spirit is empowering you to pray.
Third, pray. If God so loved you and me that he (in each of his persons) went to such lengths to save us and enable us to approach him in prayer, then the only proper response to this grace is to take full advantage of it by actually praying.
These are the things we will consider and rejoice in as we worship together in July. I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
¹ Praying, J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, InterVarsity Press, 2006, pg. 37.