The First 15

Monday July 6, 2020

by First Methodist Mansfield

Prayer in the Trinity


Matthew 28:19-20

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.


These “sending forth” words of Jesus to his disciples include an expression of God as Trinity – three persons in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Apostles’ Creed mirrors this same trinitarian theology:

  • “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;”
  • “And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord;”
  • “I believe in the Holy Spirit,”

God as Trinity is a great and marvelous mystery. We have no way to fully understand how God can be three and one at the same time, but as early as AD 325, the Council of Nicaea began the work of defining our doctrine and teaching on God as Trinity and they used these three Greek terms:

  • homoousios (three persons who are same in essence)
  • kenosis (self-giving, Christ taking on a human nature, as he humbled himself for us)
  • perichoresis (mutual submission to one another in the community of being)

Author and theologian, James Bryan Smith, in his book The Magnificent Story, writes, “Though the Trinity is beyond our comprehension, I believe it is best understood experientially. I have found my deepest connection to the reality of the Trinity through prayer… I have felt the Spirit pray through me, and I have felt Jesus pray for me. True prayer must be trinitarian: we pray in the Spirit, through Jesus, to the Father.”

We are all created in God’s image, the Trinity’s image. But, we often struggle to remember who we are and we forget the magnificent, grace-filled invitation we have received to be present in that holy community whose image we bear. Think about it in this way…

If the Trinity sat at a table together, there would always be a chair open for you.

  • Take a few moments to reflect on these three Greek words used to describe the Trinity: homoousios (same in essence), kenosis (self-giving), and perichoresis (mutual submission)
  • How do these expressions help you grow in your understanding of the loving relationships of the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit?
  • How do these expressions help you grow in your understanding of God’s design for your life in community?

Prayer for Today

As you pray, take time to sense the presence of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit here with you now. Try using the practice of the Sign of the Cross, a symbolic act of recognizing the Trinity and your participation in it. As you move your hand from your forehead, over and just below your heart, you say, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son.” The downward movement is symbolic of kenosis, the self-giving descent of Jesus to be with us. Then you move your hand across your chest and say, “and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” This sweeping across the chest symbolizes the movement of the Spirit in our hearts. The Sign of the Cross is a reminder of the trinitarian community we are graciously welcomed into each time we pray.

The First 15

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