Q. Do theologians have any ideas about the why and the how of Christ’s prayers to the Father when he occasionally went off by himself to pray? The Gospels tell us nothing of the subject of His prayers. Given absolute unity of the Trinity in eternity, what could there possibly be left to say in prayer between the Son and the Father? Communication between the persons of the Trinity certainly didn’t require words and was undoubtedly instantaneous.
R.B., via email
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D:
If all of us were mind readers, there would be little, if any, need for conversation. We talk to one another to reveal our thoughts and our feelings. But not only that. We converse to create some kind of unity with others, however superficial or deep it may be. On a profound level, spouses of long standing can and sometimes do communicate with one another simply by sharing presence.
As you say, Jesus had no subject to communicate which the Father did not know. He, the perfect Man, was perfectly at one with the Father. But, as Man, He needed to be free from distraction at times. Free to be renewed in His human strength by focusing on His being “of one substance with the Father.” That, I think, is one basic reason why He went apart to pray.