I. Prayer to Jesus is not commanded.
A. Proverbs 30:6
Nowhere in the word of God is prayer to Jesus even once commanded.
B. Colossians 3:17; Ephesians 5:20; John 15:16
On the contrary, prayer is to be addressed to the Father, in Jesus’ name.
C. John 16:16, 23
Not only is prayer to Jesus not commanded, it is expressly forbidden.
D. John 14:14
Some may appeal to a certain statement by Christ for evidence of a command to pray to Him, but that presents a problem. The passage is alternately rendered as follows: “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (esv, nasb, niv), and “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (asv, kjv, nkjv). The fact that various translations offer opposing interpretations of this verse is sufficient to demonstrate the weakness of the argument. The point is altogether nullified considering that Jesus’ own prohibition against prayer to Him (John 16:23) is upheld in every version.
II. Prayer to Jesus is not exemplified.
A. 2 John 9
Nowhere in the word of God is prayer to Jesus even once exemplified.
B. Romans 1:8; 7:25
On the contrary, prayer is to be addressed to the Father, in Jesus’ name. Observe the examples.
C. Acts 7:54-60
Some may appeal to Stephen’s dying utterance (59-60) as an example of prayer to Christ, but this instance is not germane insomuch as Stephen was addressing someone he could see at the time (55-56).
D. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9
Another supposed example is that of Paul’s three pleas for the removal of his “thorn in the flesh”.
1. Acts 4:24, 27, 30
The first problem with this argument is the presumption that “the Lord” in context is Jesus rather than the Father, which is presumptuous. The apostles had prayed to the “Lord” on prior occasions, by whom they meant the Father for they spoke of Christ in the third person.
2. Luke 1:11-20, 26-38
The second problem is that Paul received a verbal response to his request, indicating a dialogue unlike anything we may reasonably expect in prayer. If conversations with visible individuals who answer verbally qualify as prayers, then we can pray to the angels, too. That which proves too much proves nothing at all.
III. Prayer to Jesus is not implied.
A. Revelation 22:18
Nowhere in the word of God is prayer to Jesus even once implied.
B. 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 7:25
On the contrary, prayer is to be addressed to the Father, in Jesus’ name. Observe the implications. Since Jesus is the Mediator between men and God, whose purpose is to intercede on behalf of men, he is the one through whom men access the Father. Instead of excluding the Father in prayer, Jesus is the transmitter through whom men pray to the Father.
C. John 5:17-19, 23; 17:5, 20-23
Some may appeal to the fact that Jesus and the Father are “one” to suggest the implication that a prayer to one is a prayer to the other. However, unity must not be confused for indistinguishability.
1. Ephesians 5:31, 22, 25
Husband and wife are also “one”, yet each has a role distinct from the other.
2. John 17
If a prayer to Jesus is a prayer to the Father and vice versa, then Jesus prayed to Himself while on earth, which makes little sense considering that He repeatedly referred to “You” and “I”.
D. John 1:1; Philippians 4:6
Another argument advanced in favor of prayer to Jesus is that since He is God, and since prayer is to God, then Jesus ought to be prayed to.
1. Acts 5:3-4
By that logic, men should pray to the Holy Spirit, too, since He is also God.
2. Romans 8:26; Jude 20
However, that is not the role of the Holy Spirit in prayer.
By Bryan Dockens
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