SHOULD WE PRAY DIRECTLY TO CHRIST?
April 1, 1998 Issue
by Bennie Cryer
Jesus taught His disciples to pray directly to the Father in heaven in the model prayer He gave them upon their request to teach them to pray, Luke 11:1-4. Does this limit us to just praying to God the Father? No, says the author of a book that has a section in it devoted to this subject. He writes, When we apply this sound principle of interpretation to the subject now under consideration, we shall discover that the Bible give ample authority for the believer to address both the Father and the Son directly in worship, praise, and prayer." (WORSHIP, By A. P. Gibbs, Subject: Direct Address To The Lord Jesus, Page 249). The author made an accurate statement that both the Father and the Son may be addressed directly in worship and praise, but when he attempts to tie prayer in with them he makes an error. For example in Colossians 3:16-17 we are taught that "singing" is to the Lord." This might be interpreted to mean we can sing songs that are addressed directly to Jesus such as "Lord Jesus Christ, Our Savior Thou" or "Lamb of God, Our Souls Adore Thee" and this would be acceptable. However, the author seems to forget that in the very next verse (17) Paul said, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him." This seems to exempt our praying directly to Jesus since we are ordered to give thanks "by him" and not to Him. The word "by" is "a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act; through", Strong's Concordance, so our giving of thanks is an act that is to be channeled through Jesus instead of being addressed to Him directly.
On page 254 the author (Gibbs) gives a list of scriptures that he believes teaches that" the believer may approach the Son of God directly in worship, praise, and prayer, without any medication whatever. "Four of the scriptures, Luke 24:50-53; Hebrews 1:6; Revelations 5:9-10; and Ephesians 5:19 have to do with worship and praise in song. The Scriptures do teach that we can worship Jesus. I suppose no one would question that we can sing to Jesus. I believe we can scripturally do so. One of the scriptures has to do with Stephen speaking to Jesus when he was being stoned to death, Acts 7:59- 60. Four of the scriptures have to do with Paul, his conversion, and the "thorn in the flesh" that he spoke to the Lord about, Acts 9:5-6, 10-17 (Ananias); 22:10; and 2 Corinthians 12:8-10. The final scripture he lists is Revelation 22:20 where John speaks to Jesus as he closes that prophetic book.
1. Stephen speaking directly to Jesus. Acts 7:59-60. This is not a good example for those who would teach we may speak directly to Jesus today. In v. 55 we are told that Stephen was full of the Holy Ghost and on this occasion that permitted him to view the glory of God with Jesus standing at His right hand. This was a vision that took place in the miraculous age of the church when Jesus manifested himself to His servants on various occasions. In this vision Stephen spoke to Jesus with two statements that we would consider petitions or prayer. Jesus is revealing Himself to Stephen in a special vision so Stephen speaks directly to Him just as others did in visions on several occasions in the New Testament. An example of a New Testament character praying directly or speaking directly to Jesus is needed when it was not in a special, miraculous vision in order for it to be an example for us today.
2. Saul's conversion and the conversation with Jesus on that occasion. Acts 9:4-7; 22:6-11. At the beginning of Saul's conversion process he certainly had a direct conversation with Jesus and in the midst of it a petition that .we might consider to be a prayer. "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" was the request. However, this occasion is similar to that of Stephen's and involves a special vision that was expected then among Christ's special servants. It certainly is not an example for a Christian today to say his prayers and address Christ directly in them. If we are to pray in the name of Christ that prayer must be by the authority of Christ and He taught us to pray to God the Father through or by Him as our advocate. I John 2:1-2. If we think Saul's conversation with Jesus is an example for us to follow today then we might as well take the conversation the Savior had with Ananias in Acts 9:10-16 as an example of how we are to initiate contacts with sinners and wait for Him to contact us directly to instruct us to go to a particular individual. We cannot take these visionary examples as examples to teach us how to pray today. Saul became the Apostle Paul and in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 he had another direct conversation with Jesus where the Son of God is answering him directly about the thorn in the flesh that Paul had requested to be removed. Again this is a vision situation that Jesus employed in dealing with Paul and the other apostles as He did with John in the next example.
3. The example of the Apostle John's prayer to Jesus in the closing verses of Revelations. In 22:16-21 a conversation takes place between Jesus and John. John's request upon hearing that Jesus was coming back responded, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus." This, like the previous examples, seems to take place in a vision during the closing days of the miraculous age of the church. It is not an example for Christians today to pray directly to Jesus any more than it is an example for continuous revelation being extended to this age.
4. 1 John 5:14-15. I have also heard that some attempt to use this as a proof text for praying directly to Jesus These verses read, "And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." Since the context shows the pronouns "him" and "his" in these verses are referring to Christ, the Son a God, this is proof that we may pray directly to Jesus. But such is not the case. First of all these verses teach that the petitions must be according to his will." Christ's will is that petitions and thanksgiving must be by him or through him as our mediator, Colossians 3:17; 1 Timothy 2., and not to him. The phrase . . .we know that he hear us' indicates that he is doing His work as a mediator, He hears our prayers, and our petitions are carried to the Father in heaven by Him.
WHAT JESUS TAUGHT ABOUT THIS SUBJECT
In the context that John 16:23-24 is found in Jesus had been giving some information concerning His heavenly origin, the work of the Holy Spirit, and His departure from the earth. They wanted to ask Jesus for some more information. He spoke to them about the matters that were in their hearts and then said, "And 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. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full." The first occurrence of the word "ask" in these verses is from a word found also in Mark 4:10, "...the twelve asked him of the parable." In other words, they wanted Him to give them the meaning of the parable which He did beginning with verse 14. This is similar to the meaning of the word in our text (John 16:23-24 where Jesus is telling them they will get their information from a source otter man Him. Before, they could ask Him directly. Afterwards, they would get their information from the Holy Spirit, John 1:13. However, when Jesus used the word "ask" the second time in verse 23 and then two times in the next verse He uses a different word that He also used in John 14:14, "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." This' is a word that refers to asking for any thing, not just for information. You may compare Matthew 21:22 with this thought. "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. The apostles were going to need many other things other than information. God's ordinary plan was for them to ask Him, as the Father in heaven for these things, through or by Jesus His Son. God and Jesus would see that their prayers were answered. Brethren, let us not tamper with God's plan and let us worship Jesus with worship He will receive today by praying through Him to our heavenly Father.
Other OPA Article Links:
Bennie Cryer 1998 OPA Main Page HOME