As conventionally understood, prayer has become a one-way attempt to influence this Other whom we call God. If we do it right, the folklore goes, this will compel God to listen to us. I always feel sorry for poor God, who is getting all these contrary messages from contrary people, all of whom are groveling and faith-ing!
Whom does God listen to? When God’s getting thousands of prayers on the outcome of the Super Bowl, does another game go on in the heavenlies, with God having the angels tally up the prayers on each side to determine the outcome?
As long as we keep the power in our own pocket, the whole thing falls apart. It basically becomes silliness. But in a Trinitarian understanding of reality, prayer is always entering into mutuality, a kind of relatedness in a loving, trusting way.
I don’t know what to pray, or really even how.
Yet prayer is happening in me and through me. When I want to pray, I ask, “What is God desiring in me now?” If the response that arises doesn’t display some of the fruits of the Holy Spirit as Paul lists them—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness [“faithfulness” NIV, NKJV], gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23 NJB)—I doubt if that’s the prayer of the Spirit.
In a Trinitarian understanding of reality, prayer is always entering into mutuality, a kind of relatedness in a loving, trusting way.
But if this deep flow inside of me reveals a desire for healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation, maybe not always in the form I understand or even want, I can say with full authority, “Go with this flow and make this your prayer.”
But remember: It is first of all God’s prayer, and it’s only secondarily yours. That’s why the great Christian prayers are always prayed to the Father; all liturgy is addressed to the Father.
Why? Because we are in the Spirit. We are standing in the authority that this homing device is operating within us, and we always offer our prayers through the Christ.
Why did these early luminaries in the faith use this preposition, through? Because you are standing there in persona Christi, as the body of Christ with the full authority of Christ. It is not just “your” prayer. Again, that’s why we don’t pray to Christ; none of the great prayers of the liturgical churches are addressed to Christ. Have you ever noticed this? Check it out; it’s shocking, really.
Why are the great written prayers all oriented this way? Why not pray to Father, Son, and Spirit?
Because this upsets the symmetry.
You’re standing there as Christ in the Spirit addressing the Father; the prayer is flowing through you. What is God desiring through me today? What is God appealing for? All I can do is stand in that relationship and second the motion.
God, I want it, too. I desire what you desire, and I offer my prayer through Christ our Lord.
In prayer, you are standing there in persona Christi, as the body of Christ with the full authority of Christ.
Did you enjoy this blog post? Then you will love Richard Rohr’s book The Divine Dance!