Pray to Whom?

As Christians, we should pray to whom? In what posture? Does it matter?

To those who have grown up in a Christian family, these are non-issues. We have heard and seen how it is done all our lives. Even growing up in a nominally Christian country implies that everyone has a vague idea of how Christians pray. They pray to God, using the name of Jesus, and they can sit or stand, but kneeling is considered more reverent by some. To people born and raised in a pagan country where there are many gods to pray to, these are serious questions. They want to know the answers.

Let's take time then to cover these preliminiary questions. Right now, Christians pray to whom?

Christians speak of the trinity of our God, and that can confuse some. But God has provided many illustrations of three in one to help us see and accept this. Some use an ordinary man; he can be a son, a husband, and a father all at the same time. Others say that each one of us is an illustration of the trinity; every human being alive has a body, a soul and a spirit.

(Although let me point out that we are a spirit who inhabits a body while here on earth. We are not a body that has a spirit. When our body dies, our spirit continues to live). But we are off on a tangent - let's get back to this question - pray to whom?

In the most basic law that God has given us, the ten commandments, the very first one says we are to worship God and only Him. No other gods. "You shall no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them;"

You may think that sounds rather arrogant and proud, but wait - study the Bible and as you get to know more about God and His great majesty and power, the vastness of HIs domain over all the universe, and that He truly has made everything, has all authority, and has had no beginning or ending, and that we are but creatures He has made - then you will begin to understand that no man-made god can ever compare to the One True eternal God. To pray to any other thing or creature is the height of ignorance and foolishness - or absolute rebellion.

In the early Church era some false teachers, gnostics, arose who taught that God so great none of us can approach Him in prayer, so we must pray to angels as intermediaries. Yet, if you read all the way through the Bible you find that anytime someone tried to worship an angel, the angel quickly stopped them and assured them that they must only worship God.

The Catholics of Christendom have taught this too, saying that we must pray to Jesus' mother Mary, and ask her to pray to God for us. Or to ask saints to pray on our behalf. This is not correct.

"For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--" (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Jesus taught His disciples to pray to God, the Father, in His - that is, in Jesus' name.

Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman at the well, in John 4, when discussing worship with her, "A time is coming, and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." So God really does want us to worship Him and pray to Him directly, but we must do so from the depths of our being, our spirit, and in all sincerity or truth. No pretending!

Because of the trinity, that is God is Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit, many Christians feel it is okay to pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself prayed to God the Father, and addressed God, as Father. That is the example He taught His disciples, and therefore our pattern. Once we have received Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we come before God in Jesus' name and righteousness, and are adopted into God's family, so YES - we can call God our Father too!

I don't think God is offended if we express some direct gratitude to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit, but as I just stated, we do well to address God in our prayers, remembering that we have the permission and authority to do this if we come in Jesus' name. Because of the adoption and our position in God's family, purchased for us by Jesus through His death and resurrection.

We pray to whom? To God, our Heavenly Father, remembering that we come in Jesus' name, not our own. Jesus purchased this for us by shedding His blood on the cross! The Holy Spirit makes it real in us. This is truly wonderful beyond our full comprehension, but we can believe it, receive it, and enjoy a very rich and lively new life in Christ.

Let us worship both God and Jesus with full abandon and delight. As we do, and we allow Him to abide in us by His Holy Spirit, we shall experience great joy and power to know and DO God's will.

Let's not play too shy, and think we must get someone else to pray for us, such as saints or angels. God wants to deal with us directly if we accept Jesus as our ONLY way to come to Him. Jesus is the one door and only one, by whom we pray to God.

Having said all that, there have been people who loved Jesus so much their prayers are full of 'Dear Jesus,...' all the time, and their prayers are answered. Perhaps they didn't understand the doctrine of the trinity, but they knew instinctively that Jesus is also God, and that God would understand and sort out the semantics of their words. I suggest we be forgiving on this point and teach when the question comes up - pray to whom? Pray to God in Jesus' name.