Yeshua taught us to pray “Our FATHER in heaven…”. Does that mean we should limit our prayers to just God the Father? Is it alright to pray to Yeshua (or Jesus) as well? While we’re at it, let’s ask: how about praying to the spirits of the deceased? So many pray to Mary, or the apostles, or to a dead pope. Is that OK?
Most of the sabbath-keeping COG (Church of God) groups I know pray almost exclusively to God the Father. Ditto for many Hebraic Roots groups and Messianics – though more of them do also pray to Yeshua. So the prayers almost always start with “Father in heaven” or “Dear God…”. My impression is that many of these groups do not, or would not be comfortable addressing their prayers to Jesus or Yeshua. On the other hand, my impression is that most Protestants pray to Jesus most of the time, or so it seems to me – but they also pray to God the Father. Most prayers in Protestant groups would begin with “Lord…” or “Lord Jesus” or they may say “God” or “Father” as well. Catholics seem to pray often to Mary, who died almost 2000 years ago—and of course they pray to “God” or “Lord” as well.
So what is right and wrong in this picture? What is “allowed” by scripture, which should be our guiding light in all matters scriptural?
Click on “Continue reading” to get the scriptural answers.
And it would be interesting to hear from any of you about this. Feel free to use the comments section with the blogs. I’d love to hear if this blog changes or adds to your prayer habits in any way.
First of all, let’s start with the topic of praying to someone who has died – whether it’s a loved one, or a saint, or a dead relative. I see no scriptural examples or teaching that God wants us to ever pray to a person who has died, no matter how holy that man or woman may have seemed. In fact, we are commanded NOT to pray to the dead or to try to conjure them up in some kind of séance. God condemns this. There are entire TV shows that feature people who try to get in touch with those who have “crossed over” to the spirit realm. Don’t be fooled by this. It is not of God. Scripture is against any “Channeling” or contacting the spirits of the dead. Scriptures in a minute…
A séance is an attempt to speak to the spirit world, specifically the spirits of “departed souls” – people who have died. I believe strongly that praying to supposed spirits of the dead is opening yourself up to demon influence and you’re warned to stay away from that. Here’s what God says:
Leviticus 19:31 – we are not to seek out spirit-mediums or sorcerers or be defiled by them.
Leviticus 20:6 – those who do seek them out will be “cut off” from Israel.
Deuteronomy 18:10-13—very clearly lists all those who conjure up the dead and says all of that practice is an abomination to God.
Saul, Israel’s first king, did seek out such a medium, when God did not answer him (1 Samuel 28:3-7). The rest of the sad story is revealed in that chapter.
So we are not to pray to anyone but God. We are not to pray to angels. We are not to pray to deceased loved ones. We are not to pray to deceased prophets or saints. This includes trying to pray to Mary, or any dead saints, the dead apostles, or dead prophets, etc. Nor should we pray to deceased popes. When I was in Rome 40 years ago, we could go below the main floor of the Vatican and see the tombs of former popes. We witnessed many people praying to those dead popes!
Now what about praying to Yeshua (Jesus)? He himself taught us to pray to “Our Father in heaven…” We are to pray to God. Yeshua was “the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” and all things came into existence, or were created, by the Word – by Yeshua (John 1:1-3). Paul makes it even clearer by stating that the One who created all things was not just “the Word” – but Paul names him: it was Jesus Christ! God “created all things through Jesus Christ” – Ephesians 3:9. See also Colossians 1:16-17 and Hebrews 1:2-3 and so many more scriptures tell us that the God who commanded “Let there be light” in Genesis 1 – was none other than Jesus Christ, or Yeshua (his Hebrew name).
So Yeshua is also God. Yeshua was worshiped by many – even as an infant or young child. Angels worshiped him. The healed blind man of John 9 worshiped him. All of that was alright – because Yeshua was also GOD. Only God can forgive sin – and Yeshua forgave sin and sinners many times, because He also was and is God.
Now let’s take it up a notch. Scripture also says that the people of Yeshua’s day had never heard God the Father’s voice nor seen his form (John 5:37; 1 John 4:12). So who was the Being who said – in Exodus 20 – “I am the LORD (YHVH) your GOD (Elohim). You are to have no other elohim (gods) before me”? We’re told in Deuteronomy 4:12 that when the commandments were given, they heard the voice of the LORD (YHVH), the One calling himself “God”. Are we getting this? It wasn’t God the Father. No, that was Jesus Christ!
And therefore, who was God to whom the prophets spoke and prayed? It was Yeshua. It was the one most call Jesus Christ. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-10 and see how ancient Israel in the wilderness “tested Christ – and so were destroyed by serpents” (verse 9). It says “Christ”. Way back then! The One we know as Jesus Christ or Yeshua was the One they were dealing with when they prayed to, or complained against – GOD.
So can we pray to Christ? Apparently Moses did many times. So did David. So did all the prophets. It was Christ who came to visit Abraham in Genesis 18 – because remember, no man has seen the form of the One we now know as God the Father – but Abraham clearly saw the form of this one, the LORD – YHVH—who appeared to him (Genesis 18:1). That was Christ.
If Yeshua is and was God as John 1:1-3 says, and we are to pray to God, then yes – of course – it’s alright to also pray directly to Yeshua, the Son of God. I still pray to our Father most of the time for much of my prayer time, but I certainly also speak to Yeshua in just about every prayer. And many, many times I have entire prayers where I’m speaking my heart to my Savior and listening for his voice, his answers. It’s fantastic and just so wonderful. “My sheep hear my voice”, He said.
But are there scriptures that show God’s children praying to Yeshua? Yes, there are.
Stephen the first martyr after Christ’s resurrection, as he lay dying, prayed: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). And then he knelt and cried out loudly, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (v. 60).
Scripture identifies the one we call “Lord” in the New Testament as Yeshua, as Jesus Christ. There is one God – the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:4-6). Though Yeshua is also God, HIS God is God the Father. Remember when He was resurrected, Yeshua said, “I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). In fact I recently wrote an entire blog addressing the point that Yeshua has a GOD, though Yeshua is himself also God. Go check that one out if you missed it.
In Acts 9, at the calling of Paul (formerly called Saul), we see him speaking to Yeshua and calling him “Lord”. Later, Ananias in Damascus also speaks to – or prays to – Yeshua (Acts 9:10-16).
Remember we must confess with our mouths “the Lord Jesus” (Romans 10:9-10). And with every prayer we utter, we are supposed to pray “in Jesus’ name” – as if Yeshua himself was the one praying our words. We pray by his authority. We come boldly before the throne of grace in HIS name, through Him, and IN Him.
So, can we pray to Jesus (Yeshua)? Absolutely. In fact the New Testament closes with John praying to Yeshua. We read of John hearing Him say “Surely I am coming quickly”. John responds with “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” – Revelation 22:20. That’s just another example of praying to our Savior directly.
We could go on and on… but if you’ve never prayed directly to your Redeemer and Elder Brother Yeshua, try it. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. Your prayers will be enriched if you remember to talk to our amazing Savior directly from time to time – and even often.