To Whom Do We Pray?
by David J. Stewart
I received an e-mail from one of my web visitors in July of 2005 asking me to whom we should pray... Jesus, God the Father, or the Holy Spirit. The man said he was confused on the matter and asked for my help. Here is the Biblical response which I sent back to him...
Thank you for your e-mail. I apologize for the delay responding, I've had many e-mails this week.
I don't find any certain command in the Bible concerning which Person of the Godhead to pray to. Certainly, we must realize that to pray to Jesus, the Father, or the Holy Spirit is to pray to God, for there is only ONE God (Deuteronomy 6:4). The Apostle Paul speaks of the "mystery of God" in Colossians 2:2. The Godhead is a mystery indeed, but we believe it because the Bible teaches it, and the Holy Spirit bares witness with our heart that it is true. God has manifest (or revealed) Himself to mankind in the Persons of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
I pray to all three Persons of the Godhead, usually depending on the circumstances. When I pray for guidance, comfort, or power, I usually pray to the Holy Spirit because the Bible mentions the Holy Spirit with those things. If I want something from God, I'll usually pray to the Father, asking "In Jesus name" as the Gospel of John directs us to do so. Daily, I speak with the Lord Jesus, just as I would a friend, Who knows and understands what it means to suffer and be rejected and despised of men. I don't think it really matters to which Person of the Godhead we choose to pray, just as long as we understand that we are praying to ONE God and that we must come to the Father through the Son, i.e., in Jesus' name. Jesus is one with the Father, and the Holy Spirit lives within the believer's heart. The Holy Spirit is God within us. Thus, as a general rule, we pray TO the Father, THROUGH the Son, IN the Spirit.
This is not to say that we cannot pray directly to the Holy Spirit, knowing that He is the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9), or that we cannot pray to the Son of God, Who is called the “Everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6. The Godhead (Trinity) is a mystery that unbelievers cannot grasp, because it is spiritually discerned. Unbelievers cannot reconcile their finite human thinking with the eternal truth of God. But as true Christians, we understand (1st Corinthians 2:14-17; Luke 7:35).
Hope this helps a bit,
David J. Stewart
I received the following reply a few days later...
I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated the reply you sent, and how much it has helped guide me through the good and bad times I've encountered in my life since I received it. It has really made a difference.
Thank you, William ____
Thanks much William...
David J. Stewart
Here is a wonderful quote on the subject from Dr. Jack Hyles' excellent book, EXPLORING PRAYER WITH JACK HYLES . . .
I remember one night years ago when Dr. John R. Rice and I were at a Bible conference together. Before he preached, he prayed something like this, "Oh, Father, breathe on me. Lord Jesus, help me to preach tonight. Holy Spirit, give me power."
After the service a young preacher came to Dr. Rice and said, "You made a serious mistake while you prayed to God the Father, then you prayed to Jesus, then you prayed to the Holy Spirit." He continued, "The proper procedure is to pray to the Father through the Son in the Spirit."
Dr. Rice looked at him with a sheepish grin and replied, "Son, I've been in the family long enough until I know all of Them personally. I just talk to whichever One I need to talk to at the time." The old giant patted the young man on the shoulder and went his way.
There is nothing wrong with the child of God saying, "Jesus, I love You," "Father, supply my needs," and "Holy Spirit, give me power." Sometimes we can be so busy being theologically correct that we can be spiritually empty! Oh, for the heartbeat of the Christian faith! Oh, for the lilt and joy! Oh, for the tears and the burden! Oh, for the warmth and the tenderness!
SOURCE: Dr. Jack Hyles, EXPLORING PRAYER WITH JACK HYLES, chapter 35
The most important thing is that we understand it is only on the basis of Christ's blood sacrifice that we are entitled to approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:15,16). Amen!