I’m often asked whether it is proper for us to pray to Jesus Christ. It’s an interesting question.
I’m sure that a Trinitarian would answer: “Of course, we should pray to Jesus. After all, Jesus is God.” Given that logic, it follows that Christians should also pray to the Holy Spirit because, according to a Trinitarian, the Holy Spirit is God. I wonder how you would you start off a prayer to the Holy Spirit? When we pray to God, Jesus told us to start off our prayer this way: “Our Father in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9) So we have a very precise instruction on how to address God: “Our Father in heaven…” He didn’t tell us anything about how to address himself “Jesus God in heaven” or perhaps “King Jesus”? Nah, too formal. Why not “Our brother in heaven…” Except brother is too vague. After all, you can have many brothers, but only one Father. And if we are going to follow trinitarian logic, how do we pray to the third person of the Godhead? I think it is important to maintain the familial aspect of our relationship with God, don’t you? So Yahweh is Father, and Yeshua is Brother, so that would make the holy spirit…what? Another brother? Nah. I know… “Our uncle in heaven…”
I know I’m being ridiculous, but I’m just taking the ramifications of the Trinity to their logical conclusion. You see, I’m not a Trinitarian. Big surprise, I know. No, I like the simpler explanation that God gives us to help us understand our relationship with him—that of a father/child relationship. It’s something to which we can all relate. There’s no mystery to it. But it seems that organized religion is always trying to confuse the issue. Either it’s the Trinity, or it’s something else. I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and they don’t teach the Trinity, but they have another way of messing with the father/child relationship which God is offering to everyone through his Son, Jesus Christ.
As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was taught from infancy that I wasn’t privileged to be able to call myself a child of God. The best I could hope for was to be his friend. If I remained loyal to the Organization and behaved until my death, and then got resurrected and continued to be loyal for another 1,000 years, then when the millennial reign of Christ ended, then and only then would I become a child of God, part of his universal family.
I no longer believe that, and I know that many of you listening to these videos agree with me. We now know that the hope held out to Christians is to become adopted children of God, in line with the provision our Father has made by means of the ransom paid through his only-begotten Son’s death. By this means, we can now address God as our Father. But given the pivotal role Jesus plays in our salvation, should we also pray to him? After all, Jesus tells us at Matthew 28:18 that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” If he’s the second in command of all things, then doesn’t he deserve our prayers?
Some say, “Yes.” They will point to John 14:14 which according to the New American Standard Bible and numerous others reads: “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
It is noteworthy however that the original American Standard Version doesn’t include the object pronoun, “me”. It reads: “If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do,” not “if ye shall ask me anything in my name”.
Neither does the venerable King James Bible: “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
Why do some respected Bible versions not include the object pronoun, “me”?
The reason is that not every Bible manuscript available includes it. So how do we decide which manuscript to accept as faithful to the original?
Is Jesus telling us to ask him directly for things we need, or is he telling us to ask the Father and then he, as the Father’s agent—the logos or word—will provide the things the Father directs him to?
We have to rely on overall harmony in the Bible to decide which manuscript to accept. To do that, we don’t even have to go outside of the book of John. In the next chapter, Jesus says: “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” (John 15:16 NASB)
And then in the chapter after that he again tells us: “And on that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” (John 16:23, 24 NASB)
In fact, Jesus takes himself out of the petitioning process altogether. He goes on to add, “On that day you will ask in My name, and I am not saying to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” (John 16:26, 27 NASB)
He actually says that he will not request of the Father on our behalf. The Father loves us and so we can talk to him directly.
If we are supposed to ask Jesus directly, then he would have to make a request of the Father on our behalf, but he explicitly tells us that he doesn’t do that. Catholicism takes this a step further by including saints in the petitioning process. You petition a saint, and the saint petitions God. You see, the whole process is intended to distance us from our heavenly Father. Who wants to ruin our relationship with God the Father? You know who, don’t you?
But what about those places where Christians are depicted speaking directly to Jesus, even making petitions to him. For instance, Stephen called out to Jesus directly when he was being stoned.
The New International Version renders it: “While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”” (Acts 7:59)
But that’s not an accurate translation. Most versions render it, “he called out”. That’s because the Greek verb shown here— epikaloumenon (ἐπικαλούμενον) which is a general word simply meaning to “call out,” and is not ever used in reference to prayer.
proseuchomai (προσεύχομαι) = “to pray”
epikaloumenon (ἐπικαλούμενον) = “to call out”
I won’t attempt to pronounce it—is a common word simply meaning to “call out.” It’s never used in reference to prayer which in Greek is a different word altogether. In fact, that Greek word for prayer is never used anywhere in the Bible on connection with Jesus.
Paul doesn’t use the Greek word for prayer when he says that he pleaded with the Lord to remove a thorn in his side.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.”” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 BSB)
He didn’t write, “Three times I prayed to the Lord,” but instead used a different word.
Is the Lord here referred to, Jesus, or Jehovah? The Son or the Father? Lord is a title used interchangeably between the two. So we can’t say for sure. Assuming it is Jesus, we have to wonder if this was a vision. Paul spoke to Jesus on the road to Damascus, and had other visions which he refers to in his writings. Here, we see that the Lord spoke to him with a very specific phrase or very specific words. I don’t know about you, but when I pray, I don’t hear a voice from heaven giving me a verbal response. Mind you, I’m not on a par with the Apostle Paul. For one thing, Paul had miraculous visions. Could he be referring to Jesus in a vision, much like the one Peter had when Jesus spoke to him on the rooftop concerning Cornelius? Hey, if Jesus ever speaks to me directly, I’m going to answer him directly, of course. But is that prayer?
We might say that prayer is one of two things: It is a way to request something from God, and it is also a means of praising God. But I can ask you for something? That doesn’t mean I’m praying to you, does it? And I can praise you for something, but again, I wouldn’t say that I’m praying to you. So prayer is more than a conversation wherein we make requests, seek guidance, or offer thanks—all things we can do of or to a fellow human. Prayer is the means by which we communicate with God. Specifically, it’s the way that we talk with God.
To my understanding, that is the crux of the matter. John reveals about Jesus that “to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God.” (John 1:12, 13 BSB)
We don’t receive authority to become children of Jesus. We’ve been given the authority to become children of God. For the first time, humans have been given the right to call God their personal Father. What a privilege Jesus has made possible for us: To call God, “Father.” My biological father was named Donald, and anyone on earth had the right to call him by his name, but only I and my sister had the right to call him “Father.” So now we can call God Almighty “Dad,” “Papa,” “Abba,” “Father.” Why wouldn’t we want to take full advantage of that?
I’m not in a position to make a rule regarding whether or not you should pray to Jesus. You must do what your conscience tells you to do. But in making that determination, consider this relationship: In a family, you can have many brothers, but only one Father. You will talk to your oldest brother. Why not? But the discussions you have with your father are different. They are unique. Because he is your father, and there is only one of those.
Jesus never told us to pray to him, but only to pray to his Father and ours, his God and ours. Jesus gave us a direct line to God as our personal Father. Why would we not want to take advantage of that at every opportunity?
Again, I’m not making a rule about whether it is right or wrong to pray to Jesus. That’s not my place. It’s a matter of conscience. If you want to talk with Jesus as one brother to another, that’s up to you. But when it comes to prayer, there does seem to be a difference that is hard to quantify but easy to see. Remember, it was Jesus who told us to pray to the Father in heaven and who taught us how do pray to our Father in heaven. He never told us to pray to himself.
Thank you for watching and for your support of this work.
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