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Praying to Jesus

Many professing Christians today, rather than pray to The Father, direct their prayers to Jesus whereas, when one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, The Lord replied, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven,.... This article explores whether there is any justification for praying to Jesus rather than to the Father: on the basis that any change must be supported by Scripture rather than by tradition or the innovation of men.

As quoted above, when one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, The Lord replied, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven,... (Luke 11:1-2...). This was during our Lord's ministration on earth. Later, shortly before His crucifixion The Lord Jesus gave His disciples further instruction, And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (Jn.16:22-24).

These instructions are very plain. During Christ's earthly ministry His disciples were to present their petitions to the Father. After His glorification they are to present their petitions to the Father in Jesus' name, And in that day ye shall ask me nothing...

Numerous passages in the New Testament show that the early believers obeyed these instructions: (e.g. Rom.8:15, Eph.1:15-17, 3:14, 5:20, Col.1:3,12, 3:17, Phil.4:20, 1Pet.1:3,17).

However, as stated, many who profess to be Christians now direct their prayers to Jesus. Arguments in favour of this change fall into three classes whereby Scriptures are cited in which:-

1) Jesus is supposedly prayed to: e.g. Psalm 116:4; Zech.13:9; Acts 7:55-60; and 1Cor.1:1-21
2) Jesus is worshipped: e.g. Matt.2:2,11; 14:33; 28:9; John 9:35-38; Heb.1:62
3) Jesus is called God: e.g. John 20:28; Heb.1:83.

As the footnotes show, these references neither nullify nor are incompatible with the above command to address our petitions to the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus.

Our Lord Jesus said, ... If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. (Jno:14:23-24).

Again, as our Lord taught the multitudes, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Mat.7:21-27).

It is clear from the above that we are not free to worship God in whatever way we please; but only in the way He has laid down, ... to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word (Isa.66:2).

Our Lord has told us how we must pray and this commandment has not been rescinded by Him, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven,...; (Luke 11:2) Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full (Jn.16:22-24), For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2 : 5).

[1] In each of these references the relevant words are 'call upon' and in both Hebrew and Greek the word has the sense of 'Invoke' the name of the LORD. This is entirely in harmony with Christ's command to pray to The Father. In Stephen's case (Acts7:55-60), when his work of witness was done, being full of the Holy Spirit, he saw the glory of God and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God and, realising he had his Masterís approval, he addressed the Lord Jesus directly. There are similar instances recorded where His people converse directly with The Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Paul on the Damascus Road and Ananias receiving instructions concerning him (Acts 9)). This shows Christ actively exercising the Power that had been given Him, but nowhere does he sanction the addressing of prayer directly to Him. The Lord Jesus gave His people a command of the manner and form of prayer (Matt.6, Lu.11). They were to present their petitions to the Father, as the Lord Jesus himself did (e.g. Jn.14:16). He has never countermanded this.

[2] All these cited references have the same Greek word translated 'Worship' which has the meaning 'do homage to'. This is entirely appropriate. Our Lord Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. We would bow in the presence of earthly kings, how much more should we do homage to the Son of God - but that is not the same as presenting our petitions to Him rather than to The Father in Christ's name.

[3] In John 20:28 Thomas is addressing Our risen Lord in person. Our Lord Jesus had been glorified that day. That is: His nature had been changed from the human to the divine - the firstfruits of the same promise that is given to us (1Cor.15:20, 23, 42-44, 51; 2Pet.1:4). In that sense He is now God rather than man but the head of Christ is still God (1Cor.11:3). Heb.1:8 is quoting Psa.45:6 - Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows (v.7). When the Lord Jesus was accused of making Himself God, He answered from Scripture, Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? (Jno.10:34-36). Again, there is no sanction in these quotations for present-day disciples to address their prayers to Lord Jesus. Jesus is Lord; The Son of God, in contradistinction to the man-made appellation: God the Son.

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