Monday, November 30, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Prayer and the Trinity

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 30 Num. 12
“Prayer and the Trinity”
First Published: April 3, 1997

Last week we began a study of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:3-14 (you will, perhaps, want to take up your Bible and read that glorious prayer now). We proposed there that if we are to become mighty in prayer, then God must be at the center of our prayers. And additionally that God will not be at the center of our prayers if they lack adoration and thanksgiving.

Today, I want to draw your attention to the first of seven qualities of Paul’s prayer. Have you ever noticed how Trinitarian this prayer is? The unified work of the Trinity is constantly in view throughout the prayer.
Verses 3-6 concentrate on the work of the Father (notice especially verse 3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ”) and end with a doxology: “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (6). Verses 7-12 focus on the work of the Son (note especially verse 10: “the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth”) and end with a doxology: “to the praise of His glory.” Verses 13-14 highlight the work of the Spirit in our assurance (see especially 13b-14a: “you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance”) and also end with a doxology: “to the praise of His glory.”
Furthermore, even though specific sections of the prayer emphasize the works of one or another Person of the Holy Trinity, have you noticed how Paul intermingles his references to the three Persons? By doing so, he is able to underscore both the oneness and the threeness, the unity and the diversity of our Almighty God.
For instance, in verse 3 he is blessing God the Father for His blessings on us, and he cannot refrain from mentioning that the God is the Father of Christ and that all His blessings are enjoyed “in Christ” alone! Again, in verse 5, Paul is emphasizing the Father’s work of adoption and he cannot resist reminding us that the Father makes us sons “through Christ” -- In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself. And again in verse 13, where Paul is speaking of the sealing (assuring) work of the Holy Spirit, Paul intermixes reference to our union with Christ -- In Him [in Christ], you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation -- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.
Do our prayers reflect much praise of the Trinity? Are we aware of how gloriously our Triune God’s work is interwoven in the plan of salvation? Do we ever concentrate on that work as a subject for adoration in our prayers? If not, use Paul’s prayer as a model to enrich your expression of your grateful ardor to God for our Trinitarian salvation.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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