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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Can we pray to the Son and the Spirit?

One thing that did not make it into Sunday’s message was the subject of which member(s) of the Trinity it is appropriate to pray to?  The Lord’s Prayer begins with the words, “Our Father in heaven…” Are we to pray only to God the Father or is it also okay to pray to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit?
Not long ago, I heard a respected Bible teacher say that the dominant New Testament pattern is to pray to the Father in the name of the Son in the power of the Spirit.  This made sense as I did a quick mental review of New Testament theology.  In John 16:23, Jesus indicated that after His departure, the disciples would pray to the Father “in my name.”  Eph 5:20 also shows this pattern, exhorting us to give thanks “to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  If we were to look at all the prayers in the New Testament, we would find that it is usually the case that prayer is addressed to the Father. 
However, looking at all the prayers in the New Testament might give us a skewed view of this because the majority of the prayers in the New Testament were prayed by Jesus, who obviously would not pray to Himself.  A close look shows that there is evidence that it is appropriate to pray to the Son.  It is to Jesus that Stephen prayed in Acts 7:59, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”  Paul addresses a prayer to God the Son in 1 Cor 16:22, writing, “Our Lord, come!”  In the message on Sunday, I mentioned the prayer of the apostle John at the end of Revelation, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
This would indicate that it is acceptable to pray to either the Father or the Son.  But what about the Holy Spirit?  Well, we do not find any prayers in Scripture addressed to the Holy Spirit, but we also do not find any passage forbidding such prayers.  The Holy Spirit is a person, and He relates to us in a personal way as our “Helper”.  In John 14:16, Jesus tells the disciples, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.  He goes on to note that His disciples “know” the Spirit and that the Spirit would teach them all things (John 14:17, 26).  Paul teaches that the Spirit bears witness with our Spirit that we are the children of God (Rom 8:16).  Because the Spirit relates to us in such personal ways, it would seem strange for it to be improper for us to talk to Him. 
So there is explicit material in the New Testament supporting communicating directly with the Son and no material forbidding speaking directly to the Holy Spirit.  For me personally, I would feel free to pray directly to either one.  That being said, because the predominant pattern in the New Testament is to address prayer to the Father, I think praying to the Father should be the main emphasis in our prayer life.  
Posted by Greg Birdwell

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