Can We Pray Ever to Jesus?

by Terry Wane Benton

This question is asking us to discern whether there is a pattern in scripture so restrictive that it never allows us to say a word to our mediator (a strange restrictive pattern that allows everyone to usually talk to their mediator or advocate but not in this case) or say a word to our Advocate and older brother. No doubt there is the normal pattern of addressing the Father through the name of Jesus or by His authority. But the question is whether that normal pattern is so restrictive in nature and intent that we feel we must never address praise or thanksgiving or glory to Jesus. It is here that we must be careful. Can we find the early disciples following such a restrictive concept?

"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry" (I Timothy 1:12).

Can Paul “actually” thank Christ Jesus? Or is he just saying “I’m thankful?” “I thank Christ Jesus” is a much different phrase than “I am thankful about Jesus and what he did for me.” Did you thank Christ Jesus? Not if you are just thanking the Father for Jesus. Thanking Jesus is certainly authorized. Else Paul would not have departed from the restrictive pattern here. He did not understand that there is a restrictive pattern allowing us to only address the Father in prayer. So, whereas the usual or normal addressee is the Father, the pattern is not restrictive, meaning you can never address Jesus.

After Judas committed suicide, eleven disciples met to choose a replacement for him. In so doing they put forth two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed. "Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show of these two the one whom thou hast chosen, to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place" (Acts 1:23-25.).

They prayed to the one who chose the original twelve. It was Jesus who chose them from the beginning and who chose the replacement. I find this a clear example of praying directly to Jesus.

If the president authorizes a phone call from me, and we talk, by whose authority have I called him? His own. Likewise, Jesus allowed these disciples to appeal directly to Him and He responded, not rebuking them for sinning by addressing other than the Father.

Then in I Corinthians 16:22 Paul closes his letter including "Maranatha" = "Oh, Lord come". I understand that Christ is the one who will be coming, not the father (I Corinthians 15:23 and cognates). How is this petition to Christ not praying? Again, the usual pattern is to address the Father, but it is not a restrictive pattern because we see several approved exceptions to the pattern.

It would be hard to press for a restrictive pattern that says that all that is in the pattern is addressing the Father and nothing about addressing Jesus when this should also be considered in the pattern of evidence. We can say “Oh, Lord come.” That is an address to Jesus. So, the pattern of sound words does not restrict us from ever addressing Jesus. It is clear that the early Christians usually directed the point of address to the Father, but they did not feel it was so restrictive that they had to always consciously be careful to never say a word to Jesus. Some have tried to make such a restrictive doctrine that you would think that Stephen would have said “Father, would You please tell Jesus to receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59) or “Father, would you please tell Jesus that I thank Him” (I Timothy 1:12) or “Father, would you please tell Jesus to come” (I Corinthians 16:22). All we need is one scripture that does not fit such a pattern, and we have provided several. Thus, we cannot restrict the pattern in such a way that puts us in conflict with such clear examples. We should surely not do so to the division of the church.

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