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And when you pray

Discussion in 'Bible Study Q & A' started by JasonG, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. JasonG

    JasonG Well-Known Member

    Ever since I was a little kid, I have prayed for this or that. When I became a Christian, my prayers became more serious as I began to pray for particular needs. However only recently have I begun to have questions about "HOW" I pray. What I mean is this:

    A typical prayer I probably prayed would go something like this, "Dear Jesus, thank you for this day .... " or "Jesus I ask in your precious name to ...." and even, "and Jesus I ask that you would ...."

    So what has me questioning? Well, I am wondering if I have prayed wrong all along. Meaning, is it wrong that I pray to Jesus? Or should I be praying to the Father? Recently something challenged my way of thinking by stating, "We pray to God the Father. Jesus is the avenue by which we are able to come to the Father." Hence why we pray "in the Name of Jesus". Even Jesus when teaching His disciples how to pray said, "Our Father". He never told His disciples to pray to Him.

    So my question is this: "Have I been wrong praying to Jesus?" I mean honestly, it is just the way I prayed. I never meant disrespect and I don't want to be sinful. And what about my kids who when they pray, usually pray the way I did/do. I mean I would address the Father but after examining my prayers, I would be praying to Jesus almost exclusively. Maybe this is a silly question and maybe it isn't but I am really wanting to know some of you think.

    Do we only pray to the Father THROUGH the Name of Jesus? Or do we pray to both the Father and the Son? And what about addressing the Holy Spirit? I am beginning to understand WHY the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.

    Am I even making sense?:scratch:
  2. Meg

    Meg Well-Known Member

    I am sure there is nothing at all with how you pray. I personally pray to Jesus Christ and recommend the same, as the only way to the Father is through His Son Jesus Christ

    John 14:6
  3. mattfivefour

    mattfivefour Well-Known Member

    Well, what did Jesus say? In John 14:12-14 He said:

    12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

    Clearly—in both verse 13 and verse 14—He taught His disciples to ask Him. In verse 13 the words are τοῦτο ποιήσω (literally "this [or 'it'] I will do"); and in verse 14 the words are ἐγὼ ποιήσω (literally "I, I will do" ... the two first person singular references being emphatic and thus most properly translated as "I, even I, will do it.") All manuscripts for verse 13 are in complete agreement word for word. And in verse 14 only the Westcott-Hort text differs slightly by omitting the emphatic "I" (ἐγὼ) and adding the demonstrative pronoun ""it" or "this" .... thus reading: "τοῦτο ποιήσω" ("this [or 'it'] I will do"). This latter could be from a clerical insertion due to the same phrase reading in the previous verse. Or, based on the earliest manuscripts, it could be the correct original reading. Regardless, it really does not matter. They all say the same thing: Jesus will do what we ask Him in His name.

    But then, in John 16:22-24 we read that He said:

    22 And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. 23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

    Jesus in the passage leading up to this is speaking of the sadness His disciples will feel when He is taken from them (by the Cross) which they did not yet understand; but, He says, they will feel joy when He returns to them (after the Resurrection) at which time, He says, "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it you." Thus Jesus here is clearly speaking of asking the Father in the name of Jesus and the Father will give it to them.

    It is important to realize that everything from John 13 through 17 inclusive is part of Christ's discourse in the upper room where the last supper was held. This fact mitigates against the first mention of to whom to pray being meant while Jesus was in this flesh and the second mention being later following His resurrection. After all, He was only going to be with them another few hours. Therefore we are faced with the issue of two apparently different messages in the very same speech: "Ask Jesus" or "Ask the Father".

    Now I do not have the time to go into a complete exegesis of these passages and to bring to bear ALL of the related verses in Scripture. So let me shortcut to a conclusion.

    As a basis for everything I am about to say, let us not forget that there is only one God. (Deuteronomy 6:4) He cannot be divided. However, He is existing in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Yet, for all that, He is still only One God. This is the "mystery" of God spoken of in Colossians 2:2-3. It is one with which the Church has tried to come to grips since its earliest days. The earliest Trinitarian creed (Nicene 325 AD) of which we have record, developed to combat the heresy of Arius who, in an attempt to protect what he viewed as monotheism, denied the deity of Jesus, states in part: "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father ... We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]. Who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. Who has spoken through the prophets."

    This was further refined in mediaeval thinking in the Athanasian Creed which says in part, "we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God; and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord ... The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding ... And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity, and the Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped."

    Like I said, it is a mystery, and we as mere mortals have to leave it as such. Our finite minds cannot comprehend it. But such as we can comprehend it is described in such creeds as those above.

    Now, with that as a basis, let us understand, therefore, that ALL prayer from a child of His is a prayer to God. But I believe that there is an order that we can see in Scripture.

    If we take the information we are given in John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; and Hebrews 4:14-16, we can see that we approach the Father through Jesus. Specifically, we approach God—indeed, we have the right of that approach—on the basis of what Jesus did for us on the Cross. Everything necessary for our salvation (past), our sanctification (present), and our glorification (future) was obtained as part of His victory at Calvary. So everything we have or ever will have is through Jesus. And this, then, is the only ground on which we can approach the Father who appears, in His role in the Godhead, to superintend all of His Creation. Therefore we can pray to the Father on the basis of what Christ did: hence, we pray to the Father in Jesus' name ... that is to say, on the authority given us by our heart-faith acceptance of what Christ did for us at the Cross.

    Thus, myself, in keeping with the order I see in Scripture, I address my petitions to the Father, through the Son (ie: in His name, which merely means "with the rights that He, Jesus, has given me."), and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Yet this is conscious, formal prayer and petition. At all times I speak with Jesus and sometimes even to the Holy Spirit since He indwells me and is the Spirit of Christ. Remember, we are dealing with ONE GOD! Indivisible, though existing in three persons.

    Bro, the best piece of advice I can give you is: Do not get bound up in legalism. Man loves to create legalistic formulas that bind. God instead reveals truth to set us free.

    Jesus is my brother and closest relative (Matthew 12:50); He is my friend (John 15:14-15); He is my shepherd (1 Peter 2:25; 4:5; Hebrews 13:20); I talk with Him every day. I walk and talk with Him in close communion, constantly. I share my heart's thoughts and my desires with Him. Thus, prayer being conversation with God, I am praying to Jesus as well. I know that as my mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), and my intercessor (Hebrews 7:25; Romans 8:34) He takes my petitions to His Father as well, sharing with Him all that I have spoken. Further, The Holy Spirit (who is not some force but indeed the third Person of the Trinity) who dwells within me also intercedes for me at all times. (Romans 8:27). He knows my deepest needs, even those I cannot express. (Romans 8:26) After all, He is also referred to not only as the Holy Spirit, but as the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 1 John 4:2) and as the Spirit of Christ.(Romans 8:9; Philippians 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11).

    Thus, ultimately, all prayer is to God. But when we properly discern the roles of each of the three Persons who are the One God, it behooves us, I think, that when making formal petitions to Him we make it as I outlined above: to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit. However, do not let that be a legalistic trap. None of that precludes us talking to any one of them. They are all the one God who loves us so much that He did all that He has done that we might have the privilege of fellowship with Him. What is important is not a proper grasping of the Trinity, which is a mystery; but what is important is what is in your heart toward God. He hears ALL the prayers of ALL of His children ... however imperfectly we may speak or address them.

    I pray this brief response will help.
  4. LivnForChrist

    LivnForChrist Jesus Christ is Lord

    Excellent answer Adrian. :thumbup
  5. JasonG

    JasonG Well-Known Member

    First off, I have to say to mattfivefour - Thank you. Your response made me smile ear to ear. I am currently enrolled in an online Seminary to become a pastor and the more I study and read and learn it seems that I have more and more questions and the more things challenge the way I have always thought. That being said, I love your response. Thank you.

    As I mentioned, the more I study and read the more I feel the above quote applies to my life. I do not want to fall into this trap. Please pray for me in this regard. Legalism is bondage and I don't want that it my life, nor do I want to intentionally or unintentionally pour that into someone elses life.

    Sometimes I feel so much pressure to be right in everything I think and do. Not for the sake of being able to say "I'm right and you're wrong" but because being so wrong is so very dangerous. And I see these sites, blogs and posts about pastors who are false teachers. Lord help me to never be counted among them. But I see that and it terrifies me that I may learn something incorrectly and thus begin to teach it as such. To be honest, I believe that's happened to a lot of the preachers who have been called false teachers. I have trouble believing that they all are intentionally leading people astray. I study my bible every day. I am reading book after book, writing paper after paper, taking exam after exam .... and yet I am afraid that I won't get it right. (That made me tear up writing that).

    I love the LORD. I love Him with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength. And there are so many people out there who are just looking to catch me (or any pastor) saying something wrong so they can call them out for being a wolf in sheeps clothing. For teaching a false doctrine. This frightens me. Not because I am afraid of "them" but because what if they are right?

    I'm sorry for going on and on. I just want to thank you for your response. I love you so much in the LORD and I was truly hoping that you would be the one to respond. (Not because I don't want anyone elses opinion but because you always respond in a particular way that encourages and teaches me).

    God Bless
  6. mattfivefour

    mattfivefour Well-Known Member

    My brother, as I read your post I discerned your servant's heart and your pastor's heart. I say this because your words reveal that. You see, you said exactly what I feel.

    For years after I was accepted Jesus as my Savior in 1973 I taught and preached. My head was filled with the knowledge of His Word but little of it was ever applied to my heart. It was all for my glory, though I did not see that at the time. The Lord brought me through severe trials, even to my leaving the church and His Word, until He got me to the point where I had come to the end of myself and to where I was willing, at last, to accept Him not just as Savior but as Lord. I learned you cannot have the one without the other! (If you are interested in my testimony, I will give you the Rapture Forums link to it.) After He called me to Him I returned to church and to the study of His Word. In fact, I could not cease either from reading it or from praying. But in my church I would not open my mouth. I was so scared of speaking with a wrong motive or of saying something that was not in accordance with His Word. Then, one prayer service, I remember being so led of the Holy Spirit (impelled is more like it) that I stood up to share. I remember with a faltering voice and tears in my eyes I told the people why I hesitated to speak ... that it was a terrifying thing to take the Word of God in your mouth and to speak it to others. It was a terrifying thing to say, "Thus saith the Lord." For if He has not indeed said what you have said He said, how horrible the consequence! That was my fear then ... and, now, 6 years later, it still governs all I do. Yet it is a healthy fear ... like fearing to put my hand on a hot stove or to cross a highway without looking. Well, from that point on, and in that continuing attitude of healthy fear for the Lord, He began to give me messages to share with the church ... until He restored me to what He had originally called me to be. In late 2006, as I have shared before on RF, I remember lying in bed at about 2 or 3 in the morning and having God put together the seeds of a message from His Word. Then I began thinking of all of the wonderful knowledge that God had given me. As I lay there in the dark, staring at the ceiling, marveling at all of this knowledge of His Word, the Holy Spirit spoke distinctly into my mind. He said, speaking of His Word, "Knowledge stored up in the mind is vanity; but applied to your heart it is wisdom." Wow! That hit me so hard and so true! Five and a half years later it still rings as fresh in my mind as the minute He spoke it to me! Before I can preach to others, I must preach to myself. If something isn't real in my life, how can I preach it to others? To do so would be to be a hypocrite. And also when God gives us something to share it must first be applied to ourselves for it to have power in its communication to others. All of this adds to the fear of the Lord I feel and the healthy respect for His Word. I often recall the words of Paul, "Lest having preached to others I myself might be castaway." Lord, may that never be! May I always be humble and obedient, Lord! And I am often in tears that I might not disappoint or fail Him.

    So you see, bro, as I read your words, I heard the echoes of my own heart. You are on the right track, Jason. Stay on it and you will be all right. God will ALWAYS lead you aright ... and should you ever err in some point He will gently reveal it to you so you may correct it.

    Yours in Christ.

    Your fellow servant.
  7. SteveJM

    SteveJM Well-Known Member

    Mattfivefour, I'm so glad to know you brother. You bless my heart. I've had many moments like yours, in the middle of the night. That sweet communion with our Heavenly Father, while all is quiet and dark, is wonderful. Your words and experience resonate with me fully.

    Brother, Jason, my prayers are with you, and I appreciate your words as well. So many speak without thinking, and teach without careful study. It is a great responsibility to be a pastor, just as it's a great responsibility for all believers to have a right answer for our hope, to those who ask. I look forward to hearing more from you here at the forum.
  8. JasonG

    JasonG Well-Known Member

    Thank you for your words brother. They were a huge blessing to me as I read them. Thank you so much.

    And thank you Steve (and everyone else who prays for me).
  9. livin_in_the_Son

    livin_in_the_Son Well-Known Member


    Your post moved me! I can understand your fear, because I feel it about leading my children astray. I think that since you have such a respect for the calling you have, and such a love for Our Lord, that as long as you continue to seek His wisdom first, you will be just fine.

  10. JasonG

    JasonG Well-Known Member

    awww .... we should all just have one big group hug. :meet:

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