01 August, 2009

May We Pray to 'The Father' Only? Or Can We Pray to Christ and the Spirit?

A number of years ago I was talking with a saint who was well into his 80s. He was Netherlands Reformed by birth, but had wandered into the Presbyterian camp in his later years. During a conversation on prayer, I remember him saying that he has never prayed to Christ or to the Holy Spirit because the the model of our prayers (the Lord's Prayer) does not allow it.

Thomas Watson answered this pious objection, 308 years before this conversation took place between Mr. W and myself. Watson says,

Though the Father be named in the Lord's Prayer, yet the other two Persons are not excluded. The Father is mentioned because he is the first in order; but the Son and the Holy Ghost are included because they are the same in essence. As all three Persons subsist in one Godhead, so, in our prayers, though we name but one person, we must pray to all. To come more closely to the first words of the preface, 'Our Father.' Princes on earth give themselves titles expressing their greatness, and 'High and Mighty'. God might have done so, and expressed himself as thus, 'Our King of Glory, our Judge'. But he gives us another title, 'Our Father', an expression of love and condescension. That he might encourage us to pray to Him, he represents himself under the sweet notion of a Father. Sweet is the name of the Father. The name Jehovah carries majesty in it: the name of the Father carries mercy. (Lord's Prayer, 3)

So, we see, that we can pray to the Father, the Son, or the Spirit, and when we do so, we are praying to each because they share the same essence. The name 'Father' was not given to exclude prayer to the Son or the Spirit- but instead, was given as an encouragement that we can approach God, through Christ, as a Father, and not merely as a judge.


Anonymous said...

Act 7:59-60 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon [God], and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Act 2:21 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

1 Cor 1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

Rom 10:12-14 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Anonymous said...

John 16:
23And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

24Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

The pattern for Trinitarians is to pray to the Father in the name of the Son, with the help of the Holy Ghost.