Wednesday, 11 March 2009

To whom should we pray?

This post, as is often true, was sparked by two things: 1) A conversation I once had with my house-mate Dan and 2) A series of posts over at 'Classical Arminianism', particularly this one .

The question is, unsurprisingly, the title of this Blog: To whom should we pray? How often do you hear or say prayers such as 'Dear God' or 'Lord'not knowing to whom the prayer is directed? Now I'm not saying that this is wrong but merely using it as a spring board to discuss who we are to pray to. Soley the Father? Soley the Son? Soley the Spirit? Or pehaps to two of them but not the third, or is it all three of them? We will be looking at what the bible has to say on the matter to see if there are any principles to follow and if so then perhaps in a latter blog address why.

Here are a few references from the Bible showing who we should address our prayer to:

Genesis 20:17
"Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children."

I am who I am (YHWH)
Deuteronomy 9:26
"And I prayed to the LORD, 'O Lord GOD, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand."

Lord (Adonai)
Psalm 90:1
"[ BOOK FOUR ] [ From Everlasting to Everlasting ] A Prayer of Moses, the man of God. Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations."

Father (Abbi)
Matthew 6:9
"Pray then like this: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name."

Lord (Kyrios)
Acts 4:24
"And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, "Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,"

God (Theos)
Acts 12:5
"So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church."

Acts 7:59-60 (English Standard Version)
And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

The most common Old Testament seems to be YHWH (usually rendered LORD in most Bibles) where as in the New Testament Jesus seems to prefer to use Father and the rest of the NT seems to use God. The question now is, Should we read anything into this? Part of the problem is confusion on language. Elohim is plural (Trinity?)and Theos, it's Greek equivalent although is singular seems to be used as it's direct translation and therefore we should take it as meaning the same. YHWH is seen as Trinitarian but is not necessary to always take it as so. Lord, both in the Greek and Hebrew can mean any member of the Trinity in this context. The only references in the whole Bible to a specific are Jesus', and subsuquently the Gospel writters' use of Father and the few examples of Jesus' being prayed to. It is worth specifying that no-where in the bible is the Holy Spirit mentioned as being prayed to. Prayers are done through the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:26; Eph 6:18; Jud 1:20) but never to the Spirit.

So what we have established is that we can definately pray to the Father and to Jesus. The is no questions there but can we pray to the Holy Spirit? There are 2 things to mention here. 1) The Spirit is part of the Trinity which we should pray to (Elohim, YHWH, etc.) and 2) We are no-where forbidden to pray to the Holy Spirit.

Here is my conclusion:
1) We are called to Pray.
2) We should Pray to the Father through the spirit (power and words) in Jesus' name (authority)
3) We can Pray to both the Son and the spirit to thank them for what they have done and are doing.
4) It is the Father and the Son who send the spirit and therfore we should pray to them when we need the spirits help.
5) Our general prayers should be directed at the Father as it is him who sends and ordains.

What do you think?
Interested to hear your thoughts as always.
Till next time


  1. Im with you all the way here. I go to a church in Germany where almost everyone prays to Jesus almost all the time. (Which I did untill a few years ago, without any good reason why.)
    But if you pray to Jesus all the time you lose so much of the dynamic of the Trinity, and the marvel of the Gospel - that Jesus' righteousness is given us that we might stand before the Father, and the glorious news that Jesus prays for us to God the Father... its just generally slippery ground...

    BTW I found the eternal assurance post interesting and amusing, the latter only because i found it ironic that dead Calvinists have usually trumpeted this as "their" doctrine.. anyway I'll leave that squabble to someone else.

    (Hope you're well - did you make to NWA?)

  2. Hi Larry,
    Thanks for reading and posting. It's a real encouragement that I have brothers and Sisters who are willing to read my thoughts and check my theology. Hopefully we can come to a better understanding of God and his Gospel because of it, then of course live as 'better' Christians it its light.

    I found the same. I always use to pray to Jesus, then it was pointed out to me that 'Biblically' everyone prays to the Father, then I checked it out and well, you know the rest.

    Glad you liked the eternal assurance post interesting. I'm honestly glad for great, Godly Calvinists like you.

    I couldn't make NWA i'm afraid due to work. I heard it was a really good one though. Hope you enjoyed.

    In Christ!

  3. i didnt make it either - in blazing hot germany (its a hard life having school holidays!)

    Next year = Wayne Grudem and Jerry Bridges, the latter is outstanding on the gospel and personal living in grace. I cannae wait...