Understanding How the Trinity Helps Us in Our Praying
“In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).
Despite the fact that the Trinity is all one essence, the three Persons that make up the Trinity all have unique ministries when it comes to our praying. We get the help of one all-powerful God who ministers to us through three different expressions of Himself. Each Person makes His own contribution. Having some insight into this mystery is greatly helpful in alleviating a lot of the confusion surrounding how we ought to pray.
We can summarize the work of the Trinity is this simple statement:
We pray to the Father through the Son by the Holy Spirit.
This can be expanded to say the following:
First, concerning the Father:
Prayer is always to be directed to the Father. He is the One who alone has the power to answer prayer. In His hands are all times, kings, and nations (Proverbs 21:1). All good and perfect gifts come down from the Father above (James ). The Father knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matthew ). Jesus Himself prayed to the Father (e.g. Luke ). Instructing His disciples to pray, He said to begin praying saying, “Our Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Prayer is always directed to the Father in heaven whose will it is that we must pray according to (Romans ).
Second, concerning the Son:
Of ourselves we would have no right to approach the Father in any way, including in prayer. In the Old Testament, only the high priest was allowed to go into God’s presence in the Holy of Holies in the temple and only once a year. They even tied a rope to his foot in case God killed him on the spot for some uncleanness in him. Approaching the Holy Father whose name is Holy is something that we can only do in the New Testament because of what Christ has done on the cross. When He died, the veil in the temple, which guarded the way into the Holy of Holies, was torn in two (Mark , Exodus 26:33). This symbolized the fact that now all Christians are priests of God and able to approach the presence of God (Hebrews 9, 1 Peter 2:5, 9). Indeed Christ lives within us, and God has made His abode with man. The role of the Son is to intercede on our behalf so that we can approach the throne of grace to get help in the time of need (Hebrews ). We can even approach God’s holy throne with confidence because of our righteousness in Christ (Hebrews ). Christ, as Romans says, searches the hearts and minds of believers to get the mind of the Spirit (we know this is referring to Christ because of v. 34 which explains that Christ’s present ministry is one of intercession). He then carries our requests, in a sense, to God. Jesus is the means by which we have direct access to God. He makes sure that our prayers reach the Father. Just as He made the way for us to have eternity with God in heaven, He too enables our prayers to reach God’s throne. As Jesus says in John 14:13-14, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” This command to ask in His name is repeated again in John 15:16 and John 16:23-24, 26. We pray to the Father in the name of Jesus, through Whom alone we have access to the Father in prayer.
Thirdly, concerning the Spirit:
The Spirit, says Romans , helps us in our weakness because we do not know how to pray as we should. Left to ourselves, even as believers, we need the ministry of the Holy Spirit to be able to know what to pray. This is why it is so important to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit within our hearts. With groanings that are too deep for words, the Spirit expresses the thoughts and intentions of our heart to Christ who offers them to God. The Spirit’s communication transcends words and gets to the true thoughts and intentions of our hearts. We need the Spirit to give us what to pray, to help us to pray, and to adequately express what our words fail to say. The Spirit leads us in our prayers, enables us to pray, and takes the essence of what we are saying to Jesus who gives it to the Father. When we don’t feel like we know what to pray, we are in a good place, for that is when we will actually trust in the Spirit to lead us to what we should say and think.
There is a three-fold work of God in our praying. We are not alone. God who indwells us is listening to us, if only we do not hinder our own prayers by going against His will and commands. He will lead us to pray according to His will so that we can be sure that we have what we have asked (1 John ). It is a beautiful thing yet so mysterious, for though all three Persons do something different, they are all doing it together. However it works, let us be glad that it does work. We have a powerful God on our side who wants to hear from us. He involves us in His plans and purposes. Let us listen to Him, yield to Him, and call out to Him in prayer. Let us pray to the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit.