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Activity of the Everlasting Trinity 16th April, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Books, Prayer, Spirituality.

I am so blown away by Foster’s book Prayer! I have talked about this passage with so many people since I read it that I decided I really have to share it with more.

That said, here’s another incredible excerpt from his book (p98-100 emphasis mine).

The wonderful news I am trying to explain is this: while we are full participants in the grace-filled work of prayer, the work of prayer does not depend on us. We often pray in struggling, halting ways. Many times we have only fragmentary glimpses of the heavenly glory. We do not know what to pray. We do not know how to pray. Often our best prayers feel like inarticulate groans.

This is why the promise of Scripture comes as such good news: “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).

Do you realize what a relief this is? The Holy Spirit of God, the third member of the Trinity, himself accompanies us in our prayers. When we stumble over our words, the Spirit straightens out the syntax. When we pray with muddy motives, the Spirit purifies the stream. When we see through a glass darkly, the Spirit adjusts and focuses what we are asking until it corresponds to the will of God.

The point is that we do not have to have everything perfect when we pray. The Spirit reshapes, refines, and reinterprets out feeble, ego-driven prayers. We can rest in this work of the Spirit on our behalf.

But it gets even better. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that Jesus Christ is our great High Priest, and, as you know, the function of the High Priest in ancient Israel was to intercede before God on behalf of the people (Heb. 7-9). Do we realize what this means? Today, as we carry on the activities of our lives, Jesus Christ is praying for us. Tonight, as we sleep through the long darkness, Jesus Christ is praying for us. Continual prayer is being offered at the throne of God on our behalf by none other than the eternal Son. You are being prayed for right now. I am being prayed for right now. We can rest in this work of the Son on our behalf.

But the best is yet to come. Hard as it may be for us to imagine, God is in everlasting communion with himself through our stumbling, bumbling prayers. P.T. Forsyth writes, “When we speak to God it is really the God who lives in us speaking through us to himself…. The dialogue of grace is really the monologue of the divine nature in self-communing love.” How incredible! How beyond belief! “We pray, and yet it is not we who pray but a Greater who prays in us”. One poet puts it this way:

They tell me, Lord, that when I seem
To be in speech with you.
Since but one voice is heard, it’s all a dream
One talker aping two.

Sometimes it is, yet not as they
Conceive it. Rather, I
Seek in myself the things I hoped to say,
But lo!, my wells are dry.

Then, seeing me empty, you forsake
The listener’s role and through
My dumb lips breathe and into utterance wake
The thoughts I never knew.

And thus you neither need reply
Nor can; thus, while we seem
Two talkers, thou art One forever, and I
No dreamer, but thy dream.

And so we have the activity of the everlasting Trinity focused around our frail prayers. God the Spirit is interpreting our sighs and groans before the throne of heaven. God the Son is interceding on our behalf before the throne of heaven. And God the Father, who sits upon the throne of heaven, is using our prayers to form a perfect soliloquy––God speaking to God.

With such divine aid, are we not able to relax our tightfisted hold on life? Are we not able to release our urgent desire to succeed in prayer? Are we not able to yield to the divine Center? Are we not able to trust him to lead us into a richer, fuller communion? Are we not able to come unto the Prayer of Rest?



1. JJ - 17th April, 2008

Wow…I’ve got to read this book! This spoke straight to my heart today. Thanks for writing it.

2. JJ - 17th April, 2008

Oh wait…I have this book…must have been in a different place when originally read it!

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