“And when you pray…”

Posted: October 13, 2008 by npulpit in Doctrinal Question

Great discussion last week over John’s baptism. Let’s keep the train a-rollin’ this week.

This is going to be short and to the point: Can a Christian pray to Jesus? the Holy Spirit? Or do the prayers a Christian prays have to be “addressed,” as it were, to God the Father only?

(Remember to cite any sources used and establish your conclusions with Scripture.)

  1. cthoward says:

    I’ll start with three simple observations:
    1) Stephen prayed to Jesus as he was being stoned. (Acts 7:59)
    2) Paul’s written prayers (sometimes called doxologies) include praise and thanksgiving directed toward Jesus (see 1Thess 3:11)
    3)The term maranatha, meaning “Come, Lord,” is a request that Jesus come (either in judgment, or in the second coming)…and literally is a request directed at Jesus Himself (see 1Cor 16:22-23). This same concept, using different language, is repeated in Revelation 22:20 where John asks Jesus to come.

  2. cthoward says:

    Another observation:
    If Christ is worthy of praise/worship (see Revelation 5) why wouldn’t He be worthy of prayer, especially since part of prayer is praise, and prayer is considered worship?

  3. Justin says:

    This will probably come across as simpler than Clint’s (although in a sense there’s nothing simple about the Trinity!)…

    1. Matt.28:19- Father, Son, and Spirit are equal

    2. Jn.10:30- “I and the Father are one.”

    Maybe I’ve been out of these discussions for too long. I still wonder why people think that praying to Jesus is some kind of unpardonable sin. I’m sure you guys can give me some perspective on that (???)

  4. npulpit says:

    I hear what you both are saying, but the next question I would have is why some people are so strongly against praying to Jesus? Just this last week I read an article by a man who was adamant that a Christian must NEVER pray to Jesus. So why this intense objection to something that seems to be advocted by Scripture?

    Or is it? Anyone out there strongly against praying to Jesus?

  5. Alex Flood says:

    I beleive we must keep in mind who we are praying to when we pray if we do indeed decide to pray to Jesus. If we are praying to the man side of Jesus, that is if our prayer is directed towards his humanity or if that’s how we consider him we we pray to him then that is not ok. But if we pray to Jesus as God, which he is, then that is ok. Jesus told us to pray to our father in heaven. Living the perfect example of how to function as a human we must take his example on how to pray. We must pray to God because man is powerless without him and Jesus recognized this while here on earth. So we must pray to God whether it be as the father or the son or the holy spirit as long as you understand you are still praying to God and only God. So in short, be sure you are praying to Jesus as God, not Jesus as man.

  6. cthoward says:

    As far as I can tell, those who disagree with praying to Jesus do so primarily on the basis that Christ is subordinate to the Father (e.g., 1Corinthians 11:3). Although Christ is equal with the Father, being God, they have differing roles. Also, Christ is said to be the Mediator in prayer (Romans 8:34; 1Timothy 2:5, although this passage seems, contextually, to be referring to Christ’s mediation in our redemption). If He mediates, then He is not the recipient of prayer, but something like a messenger…and you don’t address your letters to the mailman, you address them to the proper recipient and the mailman carries them
    ………or so the argument seems to go.
    These same arguments would follow, I assume, for the Holy Spirit.

  7. Brian King says:

    Justin White and others have observed this already, but I felt I also ought to take a crack at it with perhaps an additional thought.
    Heb. 1:8 “but of the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” Jesus is as much God as God the Father is God and the Holy Spirit is God. It sounds redundant, but God is God!

    Phil. 4:6 – “Let your requests be made known to God.”

    Again, God is God! From what we read all over the N.T. God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit are involved in the purposes that God has planned for His elect, the church.

    But interestingly enough, we, as mere mortals cannot comprehend how God will answer our prayers. We are just told to pray to God in faith that He will indeed answer.
    Our prayers must ALWAYS be addressed to God. Period. The Lord our God, the Lord is ONE! (Deut. 6:4)

    God has manifested Himself to us as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, but God is still God, ONE God.
    We should not be so naive to think that God (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) does not hear each of our prayers addressed toward God.

    Address your prayers to God, in faith, knowing who He is and leave it at that.

  8. npulpit says:

    Here’s another question: Do you think we (the church in general) have swung the pendulum so far the other way because there are those who “pray Jesus into their hearts?” Hence, we have worked so hard to demonstrate this as inaccurate we have totally denied anyone to pray to Jesus about anything?

  9. David Creek says:

    I think there’s some validity to that. As far as obeying the Gospel is concerned, we seek to teach what the Bible says but if we aren’t careful, our prayer lives can suffer as a result (if we allow the Sinners Prayer to make us think we can’t pray to Jesus, period).

    This is probably going to stray a bit off topic, so I’ll keep it relatively short in respect to this discussion, but it’s interesting because when we think about it, God doesn’t always answer prayer with a “Yes.” As we all know, sometimes it’s “Yes,” sometimes it’s “No,” sometimes it’s “Wait,” and sometimes it’s “Yes,” only something far greater than we could ever imagine (like praying for His will for a future spouse and then meeting Amanda who is that kind of example of just that).

    Yet so many believe and teach that all that it takes in order to be saved is to say a prayer and invite Him to come into your heart.

    We know God is not willing that any should perish, but desires that all should come to a knowledge of the Truth, but does God ALWAYS answer prayer with a “Yes?”

    I think all of us in the Church could benefit with lessons and sermons about prayer – what it is, why it’s so needed, and seeing how Jesus told us to pray.

    Your comments have been very good. Thanks brothers.

  10. Brian Baell says:

    Hey readers,

    When you are done discussing on this topic, is it possible that we discuss on “Falling Away” because I think nowadays it is one of the most challenges is to keep Christians from falling away from the grace of God. How can we make sure that we continue to nurse new babes in Christ, including strong-spirited Christians?

    In His,

    Brian Baell

  11. Jason Stockton says:

    Hello, I realize that most if not all who have posted on this subject are in agreement that it is acceptable to pray to Jesus. I simply could not resist throwing more wood on the fire.

    I believe the foregoing posts have merit sufficient to conclude the discussion. However, it would be great if we had an example of someone praying to Jesus in the biblical texts. I think there is an example which is not ironclad but should be considered.

    2 Corinthians 12:8 (ESV)
    8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.

    In the context it is easy to conclude that the “Lord” is Jesus. The word used for “pleaded” could have been translated “called upon for help (or comfort).” While I can envision a few arguments that would discount this as a claim for an example of Paul praying to Jesus, in my mind it can also be solidly argued in the positive. I am only adding this as fuel for the conclusions already reached.

  12. cthoward says:

    Thanks, Jason….I hadn’t thought of that example. And, I believe you’re right. The meaning of “Lord” in 2Cor 12 is not rock solid…but the context seems to lean toward Christ (since He is mentioned just a couple verses later).

    But, anyway…..this is probably about as much as your fuel will burn…since, as you say, it seems we have reached a conclusion….Thanks for the comment, though.

  13. David says:

    Interesting, isn’t it, that many of our songs do just that.

    “Jesus keep me near the cross…”

    That’s a prayer to Jesus.

    I suppose this is something we in the Church have been inconsistent about. We pray to Him through song (perhaps not realizing it, thinking it’s just a song when it isn’t) but rarely ever pray to Him anytime else.

    This was a good topic to consider. It’s been a while since i last stopped to think about it.

  14. cthoward says:

    Actually, Creek, some do realize that, and they choose not to sing those songs. I know a preacher who does not like “Just a Little Talk with Jesus” for this very reason…because it refers to prayer to Jesus.

    But, you’re right…most don’t realize it. And even some of our newer “devotional” songs are addressed to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

  15. David says:

    That’s sad. Well, those i know who don’t sing “Just a Little Talk With Jesus” don’t like it because to them it sounds a lot like “praying Jesus into your heart” in order to be saved (“I once was lost in sin…”) but I doubt thats what its really about.

    Yes, i especially love how so many of the new songs are personally addressing Him. Beautiful.

  16. Danny says:

    I am a little late with this discussion, but here is my comment anyway!

    As we have seen in these comments, there is adequet scripture to prove that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all One!

    However, when I pray, I thank each One for the role they play in my life!

    The Father – thanking Him for the opportunity to be one of His children, and for sending His Son to die for me so that I may live!

    The Son – thanking Him for his sacrifice that I may have salvation, and for His blood that was shed and cleanses me daily!

    The Holy Spirit – thanking Him for daily guidance, especially into a closer relationship with the Father!

    I pray this prayer because I believe that even though they are all One, each One has a specific role that is important in our lives.

    That’s all I have to say about that!

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