Day 32 Acts 2:42
To whom do you pray? I have heard and also begun prayers with the words “Dear Lord,” or, “Our Father.” There have been times when I have called upon the Holy Spirit in prayer. All three are part of the Trinity – God, three in one – and all are central to our faith and lives. But, to whom are we supposed to pray?
In Matthew 28:18-20, we read:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
We are to baptize in the name of all three members of the Trinity. Are we also to pray to all three members of the Trinity? If so, do we come to them in the same way and for the same reasons? Or, are we to only pray to one person of the Trinity and let them convey our words to the other two?
When teaching his disciples how to pray, Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Then, in Matthew 6:9, Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven…” Our Lord said we are to direct our prayer to God the Father. When Jesus prayed, He prayed to the Father. Something to remember is that Jesus came to us so that He could break down the barrier that had been erected by sin between us and God the Father. So, for Him to direct us to pray to the Father, He was indicating that there was no longer going to be a spiritual wall separating us.
Which leads to another question. If Jesus meant that we are to pray only to the Father, then why did he say such things as, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (John 14:13-14)? He also said, ““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28), and, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). All of these are invitations to come to Jesus. Now, to those walking with Jesus at the time He said these things, it was an invitation to come physically. For us who read these words as invitations to all who believe in Jesus, it appears we are invited to come and to call upon Him in the only way we currently can: through prayer. So, it seems that we may approach both the Father and the Son in prayer.
If we, then, can pray to both God the Father and God the Son, it would seem logical that we can also pray to God, the Holy Spirit. The interesting thing in this is where the Holy Spirit is. In John 14:15-17, Jesus said:
If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
When Jesus ascended back to the Father in heaven, the Holy Spirit that He had promised was given to believers. He was more than just a presence near us; the Holy Spirit was sent to abide in us. This explains how intimately He is involved in our prayers as we read in Romans 8:26-27.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
So, praying to the Holy Spirit takes on a different sense than we would normally imagine. In fact, in Jude’s letter to the church, he described how the Christians prayed in the Spirit. He wrote:
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. (Jude 20-21)
Not only does Scripture indicate that believers pray in the Spirit, but we also see where the Spirit communicates with the believers. In Acts 13:2, we read, “While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” Remembering that prayer is two-way communication – our speaking to God and God speaking to us – then this is one more example of how we connect with the Holy Spirit in prayer.
As we have considered the primary question “to whom do we pray,” and the many facets Scripture gives concerning prayer and the Trinity, it is easy to see why someone could be confused. But when we look at Scripture as whole, one thing is apparent: God wants us to come to Him. Whether we are addressing God the Father, Jesus the Son, or the Holy Spirit, we are approaching God in prayer. So, while Jesus instructed His followers to pray to the Father, He also said, “No one comes to the Father accept through me” (John 14:6). And since the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26), then we can share our needs with Him, as well.
To whom should we pray? Let your heart guide your words to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – to the person of the Trinity you wish to address. All three are with you and available to speak with you. How your relationship may differ between the three persons of the Trinity is a topic for another day. For now, know that you can pray to all three persons of the Trinity. Take time this week to talk with each one.