Wednesday, May 17, 2017
To Whom Do We Pray?
Now, wait a second. Prayer is not wrong. Let's get that straight right off the bat. The ability to pray is a gift from God. You and I can "approach God's throne of grace with confidence" (Hebrews 4:16). But who should we pray to? Do we pray to God? To Jesus? Who?
Let's start with examining how Jesus Himself told His disciples they should pray. Matthew 6.
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen." - Matthew 6:5-6
That seems pretty clear. We are to pray to God, our Father, who is in heaven. Let's keep reading.
"Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him." - Matthew 6:6-8
Again, Jesus tells them to pray to The Father. Let's keep reading. It doesn't get any clearer than what you are about to read next.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven," - Matthew 6:9
That sounds pretty definitive to me! So how come I hear people saying they pray to others besides God? I'm confused. Why do some of us pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit? How do we pray "in Jesus' name" if we are already praying to Jesus? Isn't that redundant?
I found this description at GotQuestions.org. It seemed pretty reasonable to me.
"Perhaps the best way to understand the role of the Trinity in prayer is that we pray to the Father, through (or in the name of) the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. All three are active participants in the believer’s prayer. "
Seems reasonable to me. We pray to God, in the name of the Son, through the Holy Spirit.
I have Catholic friends who pray to Mary. These friends also pray to saints or anyone who can intercede on their behalf. Is that right? Isn't Jesus our intercessor?
Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 4:14). There is no longer anyone who stands between us and God, behind the veil. Back in the day there was a high priest who went before God on our behalf, behind the curtain. He walked into the Holy of Holies and spoke directly to God.
When Jesus died the curtain was torn, top to bottom. Top to bottom - from heaven to earth. We no longer need anyone to intercede for us in our prayers to God. But we DO need an intercessor between us and God when it comes to our sins. The punishment for our sins should be death, but Jesus interceded for us on the cross, taking our punishment upon His shoulders.
"51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open." - Matthew 27:51
Who do we pray to? We pray to God, in the name of Jesus, through His Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us the God's Holy Spirit interprets out prayers and makes them presentable to God.
"26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God." - Romans 8:26-27
Jesus intercedes for us. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us. Can we be in any better position when we come before God on our knees in prayer?
Yolanda Adams - The Lord's Prayer
Intercession - Eric Ludy