It is not just Jehovah’s Witnesses that say we should only pray to God the Father. There are lots of Christians, even those who call themselves evangelical Christians who argue that we should not pray to Jesus. The primary reason for saying that we should pray only to the Father is the Lord’s prayer.
Matthew 6:9-13 (NKJV)9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.11 Give us this day our daily bread.12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Does this prayer, which all agree is just a model, mean that we are never to address the Son, Jesus in prayer? No. This is the model for prayer that Jesus gave to His disciples, but He didn't limit prayer to this model. If that was the case we should eliminate "in Jesus'name". Thanking God is not in the Lord's Prayer. Does that mean that, when we pray, we shouldn't thank God for what He's done? Of course not.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
We learn a lot from this prayer model but it doesn’t teach us everything we should know about talking to God. It is appropriate to pray to the Father directly; the Lord’s Prayer clearly shows that. However, just because we are permitted to pray, and even commanded to pray to the Father, it doesn’t mean that we are not can’t pray to the Son.
Jesus Said He’s The One Who Will Answer Our Petitions
John 14:13-14 (NLT)13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!
Yes, the verse 13 says “ask in my name”, but the next sentence says that if you ask Him that He is the one that will do it. Now Jesus is not engaging in double talk He is saying that asking in His name is asking Him. That sounds, to me, like He’s saying that He is the Father. I know that’s confusing and I will not deal with it in this post. I’ve written other posts that show, from Scripture, that Jesus is God. (See my Who Is Jesus series).
Yes Jesus is God, but there was a time in history when he left His glory in heaven and became a human just like you and me.
Philippians 2:5-8 (NLT)5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.
John 1:14 (NLT)14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
After Jesus died on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins, he went back to heaven He then sent the Holy Spirit.
John 20:17 (NLT)17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (See What Did Jesus Mean When He Said I Am Ascending To My Father And My God)
John 14:15-17 (NLT)15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
There is little argument, in the church, about the Holy Spirit being God. So the Father is God, the Holy Spirit is God, and the Son (Jesus) is God. If you talk (pray) to God in any of these three ways you are talking to God.
Prayers To Jesus In The Bible
Stephen while being stoned because of his witness for Jesus prayed to Him.
Acts 7:59-60 (NLT)59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
Paul prayed to Jesus
Paul’s prayer for removal of the “thorn in the flesh” was probably to Jesus because Paul, in his letters, referred to Jesus as Lord. When he referred to the Father he used the title God.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NKJV)8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.9 And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Paul said that he would glory in his weakness so that the “power of Christ” (the Lord) would be revealed in him. In this prayer Paul prayed to Jesus and Jesus answered him.
The Apostle John ends Revelation ends with a prayer to Jesus
Revelation 22:20 (NLT)20 He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
When we are in a difficult place, and it seems that we are about to lose it, we often just say “help me Jesus” that’s a prayer. When we say “thank you Jesus”, that’s a prayer. When we say “Lord have mercy”, that’s a prayer. I’ve heard many Christians say that they saw an accident coming and knew that it was going to happen and all they could say was “Jesus” that’s a prayer.
God Doesn’t Require Perfect Prayer
When we pray, we don't always know what to pray for or how to pray.
Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
It’s appropriate and perhaps preferred that we pray to God the Father but God doesn’t require that our prayer be perfect, or that they follow a strict regime or guidelines.
Luke 18:13-14 (NLT)13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Matthew 6:7 (NKJV) And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Most of our prayers should be made to God the Father in the name of His Son, Jesus, however there are no restrictions, in Scripture, to praying to the Son and acknowledging His sacrifice for us which authorizes us to access the Father in prayer.
In my next post I will look at what it means to pray in Jesus’ name.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.