Scripture Reading: Revelation 5:8-14
1. When insincere questions were asked of Jesus He exposed them (Matt. 12:38-39) or refused them (Lk. 23:9).
2. Jesus always “answered them well” – Mk. 12:28.
3. Our aim is to give Bible answers to Bible questions so that faith can be established & strengthened.
Question: Is it scriptural to pray to Jesus?
· Disagreement among brethren on the subject. We certainly won’t settle every issue tonight! (Truth Magazine, Nov. 21, 02: Donnie V. Rader & Weldon Warnock; Searching the Scriptures, 1981: H.E. Phillips & Hoyt Houchen)
· Balance is necessary on the topic in order to avoid extremes:
o Not advocating a change in practice: Prayer to the Father…in the name of Jesus is scriptural (my personal preference & practice).
o Some stamp “Do not sing” on songs that speak of prayer to Jesus
o Some do nothing but say “Jesus, Jesus…” (Pentecostals, etc.)
· Consistency with & harmony of the scriptures is sought as we study & apply God’s word on the subject.
· We can conclude that, while not demanding that we pray to Jesus, the scriptures allow for the action to occur (that is, it is not sin to do so). Therefore….
· Conscience of brethren must be respected in the absence of an exclusive pattern (Rom. 14).
o I address my prayers to the Father in the name of Christ.
o In light of Scripture, I cannot say one is sinning if he addresses Christ in prayer.
o I also allow the right of others to pray to our “Lord Jesus” as did Stephen & others.
I. THE “ONLY PRAYER TO THE FATHER IS ACCEPTABLE” VIEW.
A. “Jesus Taught Disciples to Pray to God, the Father” – Matt. 6:9; Jno. 15:16.
1. But, if this is an exclusively binding pattern for prayer, then:
a. How is it that Jesus promised to answer prayer - John 14:13? (Since He answers prayer, doesn’t that imply that He hears prayer?) – cf. Jno. 16:23: What the Son gives, the Father gives (unity).
b. John 14:14 - NASV, ASV (footnote) & NIV: “…ask me…” (supported by oldest & best mss. evidence)
c. Did the apostles violate this instruction? – Acts 1:24; 2 Cor. 12:8-10; Rev. 22:20
d. Did Stephen sin when he prayed to “Lord Jesus”? – Acts 7:59-60
2. Matt. 6:9 – Teaches us to acknowledge/respect the paternity of God when we pray.
a. Isa. 9:6 – Don’t forget that the Prince of Peace is also “everlasting Father” – The Provider of all things!
b. Jesus didn’t pray to himself, nor did He say pray “only” to the Father.
3. When there are passages which show prayers also being offered to the Son of God we cannot establish an exclusively binding pattern when we are taught to pray to the Father.
a. For example, being taught to worship the Father does not eliminate worship of the Son - Jno. 4:23 (since other passages establish it is also right to worship the Son, Matt. 28:9).
b. Likewise, we may pray to the Son as well as the Father because other passages establish that right – Matt. 6:9; Acts 1:24; 2 Cor. 12:8-9.
c. Since we have evidence that prayers were, at times, addressed to the Son, we cannot establish an exclusively binding pattern of the Father only.
B. “We are to Pray in the Name of Christ to God the Father” – Jno. 15:16; 16:23-24.
1. Of course, this is not a liturgical formula for prayer any more than “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” is for baptism! (Matt. 28:19)
2. Recognition of Christ’s authority (Col. 3:17).
3. Question: Did the apostles, Stephen, Paul & John have authority to pray in ways we do not?
4. Or, did they pray without divine authority when they addressed the Lord Jesus in prayer?
5. Or, did they do that which is allowable, though not demanded?
-Can we pray to the One to whom they prayed? Yes!
C. “Jesus is Our Mediator – We Go to the Father Through Him.”
1. Jesus is indeed our Mediator – the One who makes our access to the Father possible – 1 Tim. 2:5-6. His work of redemption establishes Him as our Mediator – Eph. 2:14-18 (18).
2. Jesus is our Intercessor – Come to God through Him - Entreats on our behalf (Heb. 7:25).
3. Where does this truth preclude & prevent addressing prayer to Christ?
4. Are we to believe we cannot speak to our Mediator? We cannot speak to our Intercessor?
II. PRAYER TO JESUS IS ALLOWABLE, SINCE:
A. Jesus is God (Deity).
1. Yes, but in passages which speak of “God” is Deity (Godhead) without specific reference to person (text must specify & limit to the Father before we can do so), we cannot automatically assume "Father."
2. Jesus is Creator (Jno. 1:3).
a. Acts 4:24 – God the Creator is prayed to by the brethren.
b. Acts 4:29 – The Creator is addressed as “Lord” (kurios).
c. Therefore, praise & petitions offered to God (deity) include the Son.
3. When we pray to “God” it includes the entire Godhead.
B. The Lamb of God is Worshiped With Songs and Prayers – Rev. 5:8-10, 11-13.
1. May we sing praise to Christ – but are forbidden to pray praise (adoration) unto Him?
2. May we sing a prayer of praise to Christ - but are forbidden to speak a prayer of praise to Him?
C. The Lord was Petitioned For Relief by Paul – 2 Cor. 12:8-10.
1. 2 Cor. 1:2 – Paul distinguishes “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
2. 12:8-10 – The Lord (who is “Christ,” v. 10) is petitioned (v. 8). Was Paul wrong to do so?
3. When we are infirmed/distressed, may we petition the Lord as Paul did?
III. MUST I ADDRESS JESUS DIRECTLY IN MY PRAYERS?
A. No, Not Demanded, But the Scriptural Evidence Shows it to be Allowable.
1. As one respected brother wrote: “My personal preference and practice is to pray to our heavenly Father in Jesus’ name. However, in light of the above references, I cannot say that it is unscriptural to call upon Jesus as Stephen, Paul and John did.”
2. If a brother or sister cannot do so in clear conscience, then do not do so (nor compel them to do so) – Rom. 14:23.
a. Not a sin to eat meat, but if one thinks it is, for him it is wrong & he must not do so.
b. Likewise, if one cannot sing or pray to Jesus in conscience, do not do so.
c. However, such a one must not bind his conscience on others (Rom. 14:3).
1. I hope this study will be helpful & not harmful in any way.
2. Promote brotherly kindness & unity as we study this & all other Bible subjects. (Eph. 4:1-3)