Paul wrote, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1 Cor. 14:15c). It is possible to sing error, as well as to teach error. Jesus taught us how to pray saying, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven…” (Matt. 6:9). When the disciples of Christ asked Him to teach them how to pray, our Lord said, “…when ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven…” (Luke 11:2). Paul instructs us in clarion tones, “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father…” (Eph. 5:20).
I am unable to find one single reference to New Testament Christians ever addressing a prayer to Jesus Christ. We address our prayers to God the Father, and do so by the name of, i.e., by the authority of, Jesus Christ, His Son. “Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name…” (John 15:16d cf. 14:13; 16:23). The inspired Paul wrote, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all…I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord…” (Rom. 1:8; 7:25).
Contrast the Bible’s teaching with the admonition of the songs, I Must Tell Jesus and Just A Little Talk With Jesus. The former says, “I must tell Jesus! Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.” Jesus alone? What happened to the Father? The latter song teaches clearly, “I go to Him (Jesus jlw) in prayer, He knows my every care, and just a little talk with Jesus makes it right.” How can it be right to address Jesus in prayer, when it was Jesus Himself that taught us to pray “our Father”? Just because a song appears in a songbook does not assure scriptural teaching.
Years ago I became involved in a discussion on whether or not it is right to sing the song, Just A Little Talk With Jesus. The brother told me that he liked the melody! I responded that lots of our brethren like mechanical instruments of music. I asked if we could bring in the piano and organ and use them next Sunday. He said, “No.” Then, he argued that Stephen “prayed to Jesus.” I asked where Stephen ever prayed to Jesus? He read Acts 7:59-60. It is an assumption to say that Stephen’s words (“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”) was a prayer to Jesus. Stephen was not engaged in prayer. He was preaching. He was being stoned for telling the truth. In Acts 7:55 we learn that Stephen “…being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.”
Jesus Christ was a witness to the brutal death of Stephen. Christ initiated this heavenly vision. The words that Stephen spoke to Jesus Christ should not be misconstrued as a prayer. The text nowhere states it is a prayer. If so, where? If you are going to “pray” in the same manner that he “prayed” you must see Jesus in a heavenly vision. If not, why not?
Some will contend that to “call on the name of the Lord or Jesus” is a prayer to Jesus (Acts 2:21; 9:14, 21; Rom. 10:13; 1 Cor. 1:2). Sometimes this phrase simply identifies the followers of Jesus. His “name” is often used to show that we have the Lord’s authority or approval. If these passages are referring to a prayer prayed to Jesus (or even God the Father); then we have found authority for the so-called “sinner’s prayer.” That denominational terminology has affected many among the people of the Lord today.
In John 14:13-14 Jesus made it plain for all to see, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in My name, that will I do.” As already seen, Jesus taught us to pray to the Father through His name. In John 14:15 Christ says that if we love Him we will keep His commands! Let your fingers do the walkin’ and let the Bible do the talkin’. “And I will pray the Father…” (John 14:16). There are myriad passages of Jesus praying to His Father. However, I have been unable to find even one passage of scripture wherein Jesus Christ prayed to Himself! Not the first one. It’s not there.