What about praying to Jesus or the Holy Spirit?


(Paul Ojanen) #1

For a time, soon after returning to church as an adult, in a Pentecostal church, I was praying to all three persons of the trinity. Though it felt like I was praying to God the Father most of the time.

Then later, after reading the Bible again and finding myself back in Reformed churches, I slipped into only praying to God the Father, explicitly to Him, and explicitly in Jesus’ name.

Looking back at both cases, I was modeling myself after my elders and teachers. And how the Bible models, from what I know.

Nowadays, it really irks me when someone prays to Jesus, especially when it’s clear they only ever pray to Him. Today I heard a liberal, female woman lead a congregation in prayer, “Dear Jesus,…in the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.” Now that just doesn’t make sense; Jesus isn’t our mediator to Himself. Or am I getting too systematically theological?

Can we pray to Jesus? Can we ask the Holy Spirit for things? Or should we thank the Father for Jesus, rather than thanking Jesus? Should we ask the Father to send the Spirit, for Him to have the Spirit work?


(Ross Clark) #2

In terms of praying directly to the Holy Spirit, the directly liturgical traditions have historically done this; it is not just Pentecostal practice (to note, I grew up in that background and came to faith in it). If the Holy Spirit is God, then I’m not exactly clear as to why praying to Him directly is an issue.


(Daniel Meyer) #3

Dear Paul,

Jesus taught us to pray ‘Our Father’; we also have an example of praying directly to Jesus in Rev. 22:20 (and maybe Acts 7:59-60). I am not aware of any Scriptural examples of praying to the Holy Spirit.

Love,


(Aaron) #4

For what it’s worth, the current draft of the Evangel Presbytery Book of Church Order states in 51.B.1.l: “Our prayers should be addressed to God the Father and concluded in the Name of the Son, according to Scripture (Luke 11:2; John 14:13-14)”


(Tim Bayly) #5

I do believe it is proper to address all three Members of the Trinity in prayer. What is more important to me is to watch trends and large sample sizes for the absence of addressing the Father (which is clearly true today) and praying in the Name of Jesus (which today I think often is an indication of the lack of any sense that we NEED any mediator at all. Those trends should concern us, I believe. Love,


(Paul Ojanen) #6

Thank you, men. This isn’t as complicated as I thought.


(Zak Carter) #7

I started intentionally addressing God the Father as “Father” in my prayers several months ago after many years of thoughtlessly addressing him as “Lord” (not as a conscious rejection of his fatherhood on my part, but an unintentional neglect). Though it’s not wrong to address Him as “Lord” (the Psalms do it), doing so exclusively, or almost exclusively, made my prayers cold and overly focused on my performance as a servant. When I started addressing God as “Father” there was suddenly a warmth and affection in my prayer life that had been missing for a long time.


(Matthew Hoover) #8

I’ve noticed people regularly ending prayers “In Your Name I pray”. That seems worse than omitting Jesus’ Name; it not only shows confusion about what that phrase communicates, but my guess is that it is often offered up in public prayers as a way to hide the exclusivity of the Gospel.


(Zak Carter) #9

I don’t know your context, but my experience in hearing people end prayers with “In Your Name I/we pray,” and having done it myself, I’m more inclined to say it results from neglecting intentionality in prayer than trying to hide anything. Lots of sincere Christians are functional Modalists simply because they haven’t been made to think about the Trinity and their Elders haven’t modeled Trinitarian prayers in the church’s liturgy. They conclude prayers with “in Jesus’ name, Amen” simply because that’s what you do, kind of like hitting “send” on an email. But eventually that seems rote, so to insert a bit of spontaneity they switch things up with “In your name, Amen.” Often it feels more personal so it becomes a habit, even if it doesn’t actually make sense when you think about it.


(Jason Andersen) #10

An anecdote.

Having spent more time than I care to admit among neo-Pentecostalists (i.e. Bill Johnson, NAR-types), I became very aware of a particular imbalance that tends to arise in prayer. Rather than coming to the Father in the name of the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit; it was more that we were coming to the Holy Spirit, addressing our prayers to him, by invocation of the name of the Son.

I think it’s crucial to affirm what the Holy Spirit comes to do. The Holy Spirit does not come to make much of himself. He comes to bear witness to the Son. The Spirit comes to convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment. The Spirit comes to fix our gaze on the risen Christ. I’ve observed it to be a rule that whenever a church becomes fixated on the Holy Spirit, Christ begins to take a back seat, and the gospel very shortly becomes replaced with mysticism. Jesus is merely our access to the power of the Holy Spirit — our ticket to ride the cool stuff of the Christian life — rather than the Holy Spirit being that agent who joins our hand in union with Christ.

The gospel is not the good news of the Holy Spirit. It is the good news of Jesus Christ.

In summary, I think our primary way to understand our prayers is that we are coming to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to restore us to the Father, by joining us to himself; and the Holy Spirit is he who makes that happen. Jesus is the one who mediates our access to the throne room of the Father.

Can we address Jesus and the Holy Spirit in our prayers as well? Of course. But I think this is the right way to frame our thinking in prayer. And it’s remarkable how much you can learn about a person’s understanding of God by simply listening to them pray.


(Ross Clark) #11

I’ve observed it to be a rule that whenever a church becomes fixated on the Holy Spirit, Christ begins to take a back seat, and the gospel very shortly becomes replaced with mysticism. Jesus is merely our access to the power of the Holy Spirit - “our ticket to ride the cool stuff of the Christian life” rather than the Holy Spirit being that agent who joins our hand in union with Christ.

Coming from a Pentecostal background, I would more or less agree with this assessment of things. The use of prayers like “Come, Holy Spirit” in a traditional (liturgical) or even AoG context, has generally struck me as proportionate, and a recognition that the Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity; and thus, “With the Father and the Son, He is worshipped and glorified”.

But yes, with the Bill Johnson types - and I see plenty of this on the Charismamag website - you are completely right.