Thursday, April 12, 2018

Is It Wrong To Pray To Jesus Christ?

Even though there are sound reasons for praying to Jesus, a caveat is needed. This qualification arises from carefully reading Scripture from Genesis to Revelation to discern where the accents fall. My wife is a fashion designer and tells me you need to listen to the fabric talk. For example, you don’t sew leather with an ordinary needle. Leather is tough material, so you need a special needle; otherwise, the needle will break. The responsible Bible reader listens to the Scriptures talk and talk in its own terms as its storyline unfolds from beginning to end. What does such listening reveal?

By the time we’ve finished listening to the entire story we find that Jesus is the one mediator between God and ourselves. He’s the go-between in God’s plan. Paul captures this idea well in his first letter to Timothy: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5-6). As we saw above, the Book of Hebrews captures this same idea in presenting Jesus as our great high priest set over the household of God.

It’s no surprise, then, that Jesus taught his disciples to pray to the Father in his name: “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). In praying to the Father, Paul, too, adopts the protocol that befits the presence of great majesty: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father” (Eph. 3:14). He was mindful, though, that this can only happen through the Son and with the enablement of the Holy Spirit: “For through him [Jesus] we both [Jew and Gentile believers] have access in one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:18). The Holy Spirit’s role is to give us such an affection for the Father and the Son that we’re motivated to approach the Godhead in this way. Prayer to the Father, it must be acknowledged, is where the weight of emphasis falls in the New Testament revelation.

If the fundamental blessing of the gospel is our justification, then the preeminent one is our adoption. We are children of God and joint heirs with Christ. Paul puts it magnificently: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:4-7). Abba, a word Jesus himself used in his own prayer life (Mark 14:36), is intimate but reverent. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Christian as a child of God is caught up in the communion of the Son with the Father.

We see two important truths, then, in prayer to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. First, Christian praying is Trinitarian praying. This is deeply important, for much Christian praying in my experience is Unitarian: “Dear God. . . . Amen.” Unitarian praying makes it hard to see why there’s any real difference in praying to the God of the Bible as opposed to praying to the God of, say, the Qur’an. Second, Christian praying exhibits the very structure of the gospel. Jesus stands at the center as the mediator, the Father as the addressee, and the Spirit as the enabler.

So can you pray to Jesus? Of course you can [since He is God]. But let me suggest if this is the predominant way we pray we may lose something of enormous importance. We may lose sight of the glorious gospel with the Father as the architect of our salvation, the Son as the achiever, and the Spirit as the applier.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I don't know if you could say it's "wrong," per se, because Jesus is God. But the Bible does say to pray to God the Father in Jesus name. John 15:16, 16:23-24; Eph. 5:2; Col.3:17

    If you think about it, Jesus is our priest, our intercessor, which is how in his name we can go to the Father. There is no example in Scripture of praying to Jesus or the Holy Spirit (although some point to Stephen in Acts praying that Jesus would receive his spirit, but that isn't really a prayer per se.)