Praying to the Holy Trinity

The revealed dogma of the Holy Trinity is the foundation of our Christian life. This is not a teaching that has been invented by men. It is beyond our comprehension and depends on what this Trinitarian God has shown us about himself. The religions of men insist on an absolute oneness in their god in which there is no community of love nor could there be. Or else they insist on a vast multiplicity of gods and demi-gods, spirits and emanations, in which there is no clear distinction between god or the gods and the created order. It is in Christianity that the necessary importance of the three divine persons in one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are experienced and represented in our own unique human personhood. We are invited to become part of the divine community of love, without ceasing to be the created beings which we are. The Trinitarian God we worship and who has created us in love and for love puts the relationship of love at the heart of all things.

We address the Holy Trinity in our prayers, and this is important because it reflects the truth and the ultimate reality of all things. We do not worship one God who is utterly alone, nor many gods. But one God who is three divine persons in perfect unity of being and distinction. We must not confuse these persons as if their identity did not matter. The Father is not the Son nor the Holy Spirit. The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is not the Father. The Holy Spirit is not some divine force but is a divine person. These things matter. We say in the Creed in our worship.

We believe in One God…. and then we describe this One God… He is the Father Almighty, … and he is … One Lord Jesus Christ, the only-Begotten Son of God… and he is… the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life.

These distinctions are important. Not because the define who the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are. God is beyond our human comprehension, even though he allows us to truly grow into union in love with him. But when we mix these distinctions up we affect our Christian understanding and spiritual life. If the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are just the same then God is essentially just one, and uses different names from time to time. But if he is just one then he exists without love in eternity. He is not love at all. But if these names represent a distinction with God so that there are three divine persons who are truly one God, then before anything and anyone was created, God was always and already love, an incomprehensible experience of love within the Holy Trinity which we are invited to share as far as we are able.

Jesus Christ is not the Father, he is the Son and Word of God who became man. The Father did not become man. Nor did the Holy Spirit. The Father does not dwell within us but the Holy Spirit dwells within us. Yet the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God. When we pray to God we are praying to the Holy Trinity. But we also need to follow the example of the prayers of the Church so that we do not neglect a real expression of our worship of the Holy Trinity. It is these prayers which help us to understand and experience the distinction in the three divine persons in one God which we need to express.

In the Agpeya we pray at the beginning of every Hour…

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

We begin our prayers by acknowledging and recognising that these three divine persons are one God and that we are in a relationship with them as divine persons, and not as a remote and isolated God. We offer praise and worship to the Holy Trinity saying…

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto the ages of all ages. Amen.

This is the one God who has made us, and we are invited to have a relationship of life and love with each of these three persons of the Holy Trinity who are the one God we worship. The prayers of the Agpeya, if we use them with attention and warmth of heart, reveal these three persons to us. In just a few examples we can see what this means.

We begin by addressing the Father and we pray the Lord’s Prayer. In this prayer, if we pray it with our heart and mind, we are reminded of the holiness of our Heavenly Father, and that all things are in his hands, and we turn to him to give us all that we need, and to forgive us our sins. We turn to him as a father, and we are reminded that just as our Father is in another place, so we belong with him as his own children. However we end this prayer with the reference to Jesus Christ our Lord, because he is also this one God, and it is because of what he has done that we are able to address God as our Father. We pray…

Our Father Who art in heaven; hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, in Christ Jesus our Lord. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

In the Agpeya we continue to address the Father with prayers of thanksgiving since it is from the Heavenly Father that all good gifts are given, even if it is through Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. So when we pray from the Agpeya we are brought to a remembrance on every occasion and in every day that our Heavenly Father is our…

Master, Lord, God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord, God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and we thank You for every condition, concerning every condition, and in every condition, for You have covered us, helped us, guarded us, accepted us unto You, spared us, supported us, and brought us to this hour.

This is a necessary truth that we must not allow to fade because we fail to keep the distinction between the three divine persons. Our Heavenly Father is the Almighty One. He is the Father in eternity of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is also God, and it is He who cares for us as a Father in every situation.

Nevertheless, we must also address the Lord Jesus in our prayers, and often it is because we are praying only to Christ that we neglect our deep and sustaining relationship with the Father. The Agpeya also guides us in approaching Christ so that we pray…

We worship You O Christ with Your Good Father and the Holy Spirit, for You have come and saved us.

We worship Christ, but not apart from the Father and the Holy Spirit, who are the One God, but distinct divine persons. It is only the Son and Word of God who actually became a man for our salvation and we remember this in our prayer. It was not the Father who became man and died and was resurrected, nor the Holy Spirit, but the Son of God. When we pray to the Lord Jesus Christ it is as our Saviour and the one who is active for our salvation each day, and so we offer a prayer such as this…

As the daylight shines upon us, O Christ Our God, the true Light, let the luminous senses and the bright thoughts shine within us, and do not let the darkness of passions hover over us, that mindfully we may praise You with David saying, “My eyes have awaken before the morning watch, that I might meditate on Your sayings.”  Hear our voices according to your great mercy, and deliver us, O Lord our God, through Your compassion.

We pray to our Heavenly Father as the one who is Almighty and the giver of every good gift, but we pray to the Son of God as one who is working out the will of the Father for our salvation and so we turn to him and ask for all that we need. In such a way we use the words of the Jesus Prayer as often as possible each day. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Nor do we neglect the Holy Spirit in our prayers, since he is also a divine person and one of the Holy Trinity, and is the One God we worship. The role of the Holy Spirit is not the same as the Father or the Son. He is bringing about within us the transformation into the likeness of God which is the fulfilment of the salvation which the Lord Jesus Christ offers us, and which is the will of the Father for each person he has made. Therefore we also pray to the Holy Spirit…

O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who is present in all places and fills all, the treasury of good things and the Life‑Giver, graciously come, and dwell in us and purify us from all defilement, O Good One, and save our souls.

The Holy Spirit is also our Lord, and is the Heavenly King, no less than the Father, since Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one God. But the Holy Spirit is a distinct person. He is the Spirit of Truth, and the Spirit of the Father, and the Spirit of the Son, because they are one, but he is a divine person himself and we should address him with reverence, worship and warmth of heart. It is the Spirit that we ask to come and fill us, and when he fills us we find that God is present, and that we are united with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, even as this is the divine purpose of the Holy Spirit in the creation.

These names matter because they represent divine persons that are not entirely interchangeable. When we neglect the Father in our prayers we lose an important aspect of the spiritual life and we fail to experience the loving parenthood of God. When we neglect the Holy Spirit in our prayers how can we hope to grow into union with God. Our Christian faith is Trinitarian because this eternal relationship of love between the three divine persons who are one God represents the truth that God is love. He invites us to enter into this communion of love, and has made us for this, and it is in our prayer to each person and to the Holy Trinity that we are reminded of this and experience it more completely.

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