In his beautiful little anthology on prayer John Moses, citing Mother Mary Clare, says that prayer is to be understood as God’s activity in us rather than thinking that prayer finds its origin in us.1 It is usual to approach prayer as an activity that we do, perhaps as a response to God, but nevertheless originating within us as our activity alone toward God. Indeed, often the content of our prayer reflects this misunderstanding of prayer as our activity rather than God’s. However, the insight that prayer is God’s activity in us before it is our activity is a thoroughly Trinitarian insight. It doesn’t make sense to think that God is praying in us if God is an undifferentiated monad. In her discussion of the incorporative model of the Trinity and Romans 8, Sarah Coakley says that this activity of the Spirit in conforming creation into the life of the ‘Son’ is the Trinity. Reflection on Christian experience is that this activity of God in us praying cannot be reduced “to that from which it flows”.2
In this understanding, prayer becomes less a chore and more a presence; less work, more grace. Prayer of this kind is – dare I say it – evidence of the truth of the trinitarian structure of the church’s theology and practice. Romans 8 then becomes the paradigm of discipleship. Picking up the cross and following Jesus is not masochism but another way of saying that our calling is to more and more live for God as Christ in his Spirit.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwells in you. (Romans 8:11)
- John Moses, The Language of Love, p. xii.
- Sarah Coakley, God, Sexuality and the Self, p. 112.