As I’m taking roughly 45 weeks preaching through John’s Gospel, we arrived at Jesus’ longest prayer in John 17. There, Jesus prays to God as “Father”, which is his common pattern. After each service, as Grace and I were visiting with and praying for our people, many of them had the same question, “Should we pray to God the Father or can we pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit?”
That is a common question. As a general rule, most of our praying should be to God the Father. Jesus taught us saying in Matthew 6:9, “Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven”. Jesus modeled praying to God as Father repeatedly as some 165 times in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), He refers to God as Father which is His favorite name for God.
Sometimes, it is fine to pray to Jesus. There is an occasion when an early church leader named Stephen prayed to Jesus as he was dying. We read in Acts 7:59 that Stephen saw Jesus in heaven and “he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’”.
Christian prayer is most often Trinitarian. Practically, this means we pray by the Spirit, through Jesus Christ our mediator, to God the Father. Praying by the Spirit is clearly taught in the Bible. Ephesians 6:18 says we should be, “praying at all times in the Spirit”. Jude 1:20 says we should be, “praying in the Holy Spirit”. Praying through Jesus Christ is what He meant teaching us to pray, “in my name” (John 14:13-14).
There are times, however, when it is sensible to pray to Jesus or the Spirit. For example, if you are reading the Bible and reminded that Jesus died in your place for your sins on the cross, it is a good thing to stop and thank Him for doing that work on your behalf. Or, if you love someone who is far from God and not paying any attention to the bad decisions that are harming their life and relationship with God, you can pray to the Spirit to convict them of their sin as that is one of His ministries (John 16:8).
Which member of the Trinity do you feel most familiar with? How can you get to know the others?