24 July 2008

Prayer...in the name of...?

I wrote a similar article on this back on the old blog, and am rehashing it now because I have noticed the issue more and more since writing the original post.

There seems to be a epidemic going around today in prayer. I believe people are not really stopping to seriously think before they pray. It has become too much of a habit for us to just "jump" into prayer without contemplating the serious reverence and awe for what we are doing. We are coming into the direct lane of communication with the Almighty, and should be doing so in boldness because of Christ, but in reverence because of the Father, our Creator. The manner and attitude with which you enter into prayer is directly related to your belief and respect for the one you pray to.

But, the next question I would like to consider, is exactly how should we as Christians pray? What does the Bible say about the logistic of prayer? Are we to pray to the Father? the Son? the Holy Spirit? take turns with all three, or combine all three into one prayer?

I find it more and more common to hear people these days praying to Jesus, and ending with "...in your name we pray" or even "...in Jesus name we pray." Does anyone stop to really think of what they are doing and saying?

What does the Bible instruct us to do when it comes to prayer? Is it just a haphazard smorgasbord of choices and we can do as we please? I have only begun to give it more serious thought, but upon my initial examination, I find that we have been given a pretty clear instruction on the details.

Jesus says in Matt 6:6 "But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Then, in giving us the Lord's Prayer, we are taught to pray saying "Our Father..."

So in both instances, Jesus instructs his followers to pray to the Father.

John 16:13 "Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you."

Here we are told by Jesus to ask of the Father, in his (Jesus) name. So, in all of these cases, it is evident that we are to pray to the Father, in the name (authority/power) of Jesus. Jesus is the bridge that opened the conduit for us to directly approach the throne in prayer, so it is through his power and authority...in his name, not our own, not a priest, nor any other intercessor, that we lift prayers to the Father.

So, what about the Spirit?

John 14-16 give us much about the coming Comforter, and in all cases it appears that the Spirit is just that, a Comforter, and not one that seeks to be directly addressed in prayer.

John 16: 13-14 "When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you."

The Spirit's job is to glorify and speak of the Son, not to be glorified or addressed in prayer.

Rom 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."

Are we to pray to the Spirit? The evidence seems to be that the Spirit assists us in praying, and is not the one being addressed in prayer.

Richard Baxter (
1615-1691) sums is up quite well:
True Christian prayer is, the believing and serious expression or acting of our lawful desires before God, through Jesus our Mediator, by the help of the Holy Spirit, as a means to procure of him the grant of these desires.
Christian Directory, Chapt 23, Direct I
All I am saying is, stop and think before you pray. Who are you addressing, and in whose name do you come? Honestly, it just seems kind of odd to me to pray to Jesus in his own name. Anyone else have thoughts on the subject?