Whom to address in Prayer?
We must address the Father in Heaven. That’s what Jesus Himself taught: “Pray to your Father”… “In this manner pray: Our Father in Heaven!” (Mt 6:6,9).
During the days of Jesus on earth, the disciples straightaway asked Him whatever they wanted. But pointing to the new dispensation which Pentecost would usher in, Jesus said, “In that day you will ask Me nothing… whatever you ask the Father in My Name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My Name” (Jn 16:23,24).
Even though Jesus is the One who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, He has directed us to ask “the Father” for this gift (Lk 11:13).
The early Christians prayed “to” the Father (Acts 4:24-30). The apostolic teaching is clear: “THROUGH Jesus we have access BY one Spirit TO the Father” (Eph 2:18). Paul writes thus of his own prayer practice: “I bow my knees TO the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:14).
God Almighty is our Eternal Father. Christ Jesus is our Elder Brother. The Holy Spirit is our Executive Helper (Heb 2:10-12; Jn 16:17). We pray “to” the Father, “thro” the Son, “by” the power of the Spirit. The trinitarian Godhead is best understood in the context of prayer.
Our prayers are addressed to the Father who is in Heaven. They are advocated by the Son who is seated at His right hand. They are assisted by the Holy Spirit who is right here on the earth in us (Heb 7:25; Rom 8:26,34). What a picture! What a privilege!
Does it mean we cannot pray “to” Jesus? No. There are prayers in the Bible addressed to Him (Acts 7:59; Rev 22:20). But these are more an exception than a rule. The clear teaching in the Scriptures is to pray “to” the Father “through” Jesus. Let us not hesitate to shed down our traditions, though cherished long, to become more and more scriptural.
Can we praise Jesus? Of course yes. We should. But the ultimate worship is to the Father. Read Jn 4:23; Eph 3:21; 5:20; Col 1:3,12. Even when every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord, it is “to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:11).
Here’s the final stage: “When all things are subject to Jesus, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28).