Is Praying to Jesus Authorized? – Mike Demory

Mike Demory

In our Pentecostal age of emotionalism, we hear individuals in public prayer addressing Jesus, or switching between the Father and the Son, while even going so far as to pray to the Holy Spirit Himself. The argument is often given that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all God therefore any one of the three can be addressed. When we speak of “prayer,” we are not talking about a personal face-to-face conversation between two or more individuals as was the case between Stephen and the glorified Christ (Acts 7:59). If this particular example is to be used as the authority for “praying” then to be consistent, one would have to argue that every conversation is a prayer.

Prayer should be the life blood of the Christian that ever connects him to God. Unlike many societies today who spend special time in prayer, Americans tend not to devote as much time to prayer. The Jews had specific times three times per day to pray as do Muslims. Jesus’ example in Luke 11:1-13 and Matthew 6:9-15 are not to be considered a specific prayer that is to be prayed, or sung, as is common with some religious groups, but rather a simple format or blueprint that shows what prayers should include. Please notice what is incorporated in these two examples that instruct our prayers to be addressed to none other than; “Our Father.” No where do we find Jesus instructing His disciples to pray to Himself, the Holy Spirit, Allah, Buddha, Mary His mother or to deceased saints.

There are those who will argue that we find examples where men are “praying” to Jesus or where Jesus Himself instructs others to ‘pray’ to Him because the phrase, calling on the name is found. Context must always be maintained when considering any Bible subject and the phrase calling on the name is no different.

This phrase has been used from justifying the “sinner’s prayerto praying to Jesus. While it is true that the word calling is used some 32 times in the New Testament, this word has nothing to do with a “sinners prayer,” let alone praying to Jesus or to anyone else. Calling on the name is used no less than ten times to refer to the process of salvation (Acts 22:16; 9:14, 21; Rom. 10:13, et al), while other times it is reference to Christ’s authority.

Think about it rationally for a moment, why would Jesus, who said He was the “Way, the Truth and the Life,” tell us we are to pray to the Father (Matt. 6:9), and then confuse the issue by inserting words that appear to teach otherwise? The only rational answer can be that it is men who are confusing the issue. Third Century martyr Origen wrote, “Now if we are to take prayer in its most exact sense, perhaps we should not pray to anyone begotten, not even to Christ Himself, but only to the God and Father of all, to whom even our Savior Himself prayed … and to whom He taught us to pray.” Yet men continue to be irrational in their interpretation of Scripture by the mere assertion that a particular thing refers to praying to Jesus. Whether they point to the use of the word Maranatha, or the idea that because we sing songs of praise to Jesus, that means we may then pray to Him is dishonesty gone to seed. The claim (assertion really) is made that Acts 7:59 is proof that one may pray directly to Jesus because the text states that as the Jews were stoning Stephen he “called” on God saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Advocates of Jesus prayer opine that called means prayed (NIV translation), because Stephen used the words “Lord Jesus,” meaning he was praying directly to Jesus. The fact of the matter is that Stephen lived in supernatural times, that cannot be emulated today. If we can use his example as praying to Jesus, then we should expect the heavens to open, and be able to see Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, as did Stephen.

Other irrational arguments assert that the church fathers spoke of praying to Jesus or that there are hymns such as “Just a Little talk with Jesus,” “I Must Tell Jesus,” and “Tell it To Jesus Alone,” that imply praying to Him. We must ask the question—Your point? Neither of these is authoritative as they come from men and not God.

So the real question is this, “To whom do we address in prayer?” Despite all the force feeding of the subject into passages of Scripture, or seeking out the opinions of men, it is the duty of every person to seek only what Saith the Lord (Acts 17:11). In the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus while teaching the multitudes, instructs them that their prayers should not be repetitious or vain; and that they should be addressed to God the Father (Matt. 6:1-9). He gave no alternatives, no middle ground to whom we are to address our prayers!

The Apostle Paul understood the concept of praying to God the Father when he wrote to the Ephesians instructing them of the “giving of thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20); and again to the Colossians when he said, “and whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father by Him” (Col. 3:17). The term “in the name of” is equivalent to saying “by the authority of” as is the case of the Jewish leaders asking Peter “by what name” or “by what authority” have you done this? (Acts 4:7). The giving of thanks is always to be directed to God the Father—through or by the Lord Jesus.

In conclusion, there is no authority from God whatsoever to pray directly to Jesus or anyone else. If it is the case that we can use one example of conversation to make the case for prayer, then we must use all examples of conversation to do so which then opens the door to praying to just about anyone, if not, why not? There are three persons in the Godhead, each have a role to play. God the Father being the Great Architect deserves all glory and honor due His name. While we love and appreciate what Jesus has done, and praise is also due Him, it is to the Father alone that we are commanded to direct our prayers. As Paul said, “for this cause I bow my knees unto the Father” (Eph. 3:14).

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