To whom do we pray? The Father only? Is it okay to pray to Jesus or to the Holy Spirit?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture 

Question: When we pray and thank should it be to GOD or to his Son Jesus? I have always been confused/unsure about that; I usually end my prayer with "To the Father, Through the Son and the Holy Spirit I pray, Amen." Is that right? We can only talk to God through Jesus, right? Also where I get confused is that in the bible says Jesus is Lord and also that God is Lord? that's why I have trouble understanding who to thank and whom to pray to. Please help clarify this for me. Thanks and God Bless.

Answer: What a great question! It shows me that you are serious about praying — but also that you are serious about not offending God. So I say, “Amen” to the former and “Don’t worry” to the latter. Here’s what I mean.

When it comes to prayer, I find it helpful to step back and ask myself a few questions. First, am I giving God any information by praying? I mean, if he’s omniscient, then he knows everything that’s on my mind already — so, prayer can’t be about giving him information. Second, am I filling in a form? Because on a form, it is important to put things in the right boxes, to be inclusive and to check my spelling. No, God doesn’t care about “form” either — and especially under the new covenant. So what’s going on with prayer? When we pray, we are communing — but in so doing, we are communicating with God — that’s all (… and that’s plenty!)

I still think that the best type of prayer is just curling up on God’s lap (but with no list) — just enjoying his fellowship as a small child would with his father. In that case, nothing particular would be communicated — just love, and no one, in particular, would be addressed; God would be merely understood to be there in fellowship. Now, there is nothing wrong with petitioning God (as with a list) while praying; this is a natural part of prayer — one that Jesus himself taught. But when Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer, he did so by giving a model — and in that model, he said, “Our Father…” So, does that mean that we must always and only address the Father in prayer? No.

I can tell by your question that you love God and that you are orthodox in your beliefs — but specifically that you believe in a God who is a Trinity. Part of that belief is that all persons of the Godhead are equally eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, etc., and as such, they may all be legitimately addressed in prayer. But I too (and especially in public prayer) typically address the Father… and in the name of Jesus… and in the power of the Holy Spirit… which does at least two things: it lets my listeners know what’s going on, and it articulates the common understanding of their roles in the Godhead. But, except for the incarnation (which was unique to Jesus), all persons of the Trinity do all those godly things; they all hear prayer, affect answers — and all are worthy of our praise. As such, you can never go wrong by addressing any person of the Trinity in prayer.

I am very happy that you found my website, but I serve at a larger Christian apologetics ministry named Got Questions Ministries. Please visit their site when you get a chance because they have exponentially more information than do I.  In fact, I will include the link to a short article that addresses this very question — and I thank you for touching down with me. I pray that these comments help you.

Here is the link:

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