Last night we had an interesting turn of events as the Alpha course considered the issue of prayer, the statement:
'Christian prayer is to the Father, through the Son, by one Spirit,'
caused a bit of a kerfuffle as people asked whether it was wrong to pray to the Son or to the Spirit.
'Are we only to pray to the Father then?' one asked, 'How does prayer work? How do we pray?'
Prayer is, of course, the name we give for our communications with those in places of power and authority, the ultimate person in that category being God. In the legal world, once all the facts have been laid out there is a prayer - a request for justice and recompense, comfort and satisfaction added to the thing.
So how do we view this communication?
Having yesterday celebrated twenty years of marriage I guess it has to be made on the same wavelength and in language - although I sometimes wonder what God makes of all the buzzwords, jargon and 'God language' we cloak our chats with Him in, especially those who seem to think God only reads the KJV and speaks in that same vogue!
'O Lord, Thou knowest whatest we havest partaken of and are found mean and in the poverty of our undoneness . . .'
Nah - God wants a face to face, mano e mano, full on conversation. To talk through the day gone, the things present and the stuff to come. Two-way communication with you speaking as who you are, nothing cloaked, all in the clear and open and honest; and He (I believe) talks the same language as you.
So how do we explain prayer? Can we pray to the Son; can we chat to the Holy Spirit? Does the Father get all our mail and hold all the conversations?
A knotty problem for those seeking to form an understanding of one of the staples of Christian living and whilst the words, 'Christian prayer is to the Father, through the Son, by one Spirit,' are indeed right - they might not be helpful. So here's a few of the analogies I've tried in my quest to bring clarity and understanding.
'God - Father Son and Holy Spirit' is the focus of our prayer and because sin separated us from being one with the Father we needed someone to bring us back into relationship with Him and this is done by the Son taking upon Himself the task of restoring that relationship by His, once and for all, atoning act on the cross. So it is by Jesus that we are able to be in the Father's presence.
Putting in in earthly terms and using marriage as the example, it is like a couple who have split because of the behaviour (AKA wrongdoings or sin) of one of the two parties. The Son acts as someone who brings about a restoration of the relationship, making the two one once again.
Now the Holy Spirit, that much misunderstood and nightshirt like spook image that some wrongly have of Him (for He is definitely a 'He' and not and 'It') works in this relationship as one who comes alongside and helps support the wayward, and now restored, party in the relationship to step away from and avoid the things that caused the breakdown in the first place. He helps direct our thoughts and gives us the information and advice we need to keep the thing flying properly.
Back to the earthly terms bit, the Holy Spirit becomes that best friend we all need; that person who tells us the truth when we need to hear it and gives that advice with stops us crashing and burning.
Which leads me nicely into the analogies:
Father = Runway, Jesus = Air Traffic Control, Holy Spirit = Co-pilot
As we seek to put ourselves on the runway it is Air Traffic Control who makes this possible by giving us permission to approach; the Co-pilot who calls out heights, works throttles, lowers gear and does the stuff that stops us crashing and burning. This is how it works with our prayer for we approach the Father because the Son gives us access and the Holy Spirit works with us to lower the workload and reduce the errors as we approach.
One God but when looked at more closely we find that, like the spectrograph below, that God shows up as having three distinct components - each different and yet making the one and being equally part of that one element: God.
Ten minutes gone and tea drunk - off out (but more later)