Who are we supposed to pray to?

(I know it should be “whom” but that sounds so stuffy.)

Ever heard someone pray–or prayed yourself–something like this: “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you, Jesus, for dying for us and we ask you Heavenly Father, to help us, Lord–“?

Who are we supposed to be addressing our prayers to? Ever confused about that? I have been.

It was novel to first-century Jews to have Jesus modeling for them a prayer to G-d as Father: “Our Father who is in heaven–.” That’s Who Jesus prayed to. He always called Him Father.

Except once.

Dying in agony he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He himself was God. He claimed to be YHWH, the “I AM” or Ever-Present One, the name-which-is-too-holy-to-pronounce, the name committed to Moses to reveal to the rest of the Jews as their deliverer.

But in going through death as one of us (and for us), he experienced our separation from the Father. At that moment he addressed his Father, who with the Holy Spirit shared deity with Jesus as one God–as God.

I don’t fully understand what I just wrote. But I know that Biblically, in the awesome mystery of the three-in-one Godhead, the Trinity, it’s true.

Jesus is God’s son and Jesus bought us with his own life so we could be God’s children, too, by faith in him. (Yet Jesus is also our Lord.) But first he modeled for us what life is meant to be like when it is flowing from our Father into our innermost being.

Jesus set up base camp among us, limiting himself to just the resources we have–nothing supernatural* up his sleeve, nothing in his hat that we don’t have available when we’re drawing sap (sustenance) from Him–to show us how being plugged into God as our Father works: “I do only what I see the Father doing. I say only what the Father teaches me to say.”

As God’s children,  Jesus’ resources become our resources so that he could tell us with complete accuracy, “the works I do you will do.” His Father becomes our Father, His access to the Father is made available to us. He gives us his VISA and hands us the red phone. Pick it up anytime and tell Abba what’s on your heart. Ask Him for anything. Charge it to My account. Tell Him I sent you. You won’t have to depend on me (or any created being) to go to Him on your behalf. He loves you as much–exactly as much!–as I do. You can go to Him directly. My name will get you in.

This is my best guess as to what Jesus meant by John’s Gospel, chapters 14-17. I have put actual Scripture in quotes. The italicized bits are me, paraphrasing like crazy. Take them or leave them. Better than either, ponder them.

*with rare exceptions, like the Tranfiguration.

Matthew 6:9-13; Mark 15:34; Exodus 3:14; John 5:19; John 8:28; John 14:12; John chapters 14-17


About Jessica Renshaw

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3 Responses to Who are we supposed to pray to?

  1. Dimple says:

    Simple, yet profound.
    God bless you, Jessica.

  2. …with rare exceptions, like the Transfiguration – and the many miracles He performed, and the thousands of healings, both physical and spiritual, that He accomplished, and the many times He demonstrated His omniscience, etc., etc. (Some people try to claim that, while on earth, Jesus abandoned using any of His attributes as deity. Obviously, that’s not so. But understanding the balance in the God-man between His deity and His humanity takes a more nuanced understanding than most of us humans are capable of…)

    By the way: since all three Persons are God, it’s OK to pray directly to any of them. Traditionally, though (just to keep ourselves organized!), we usually pray “to” the Father, “through” the Son “by” the agency of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Stan Zorin says:

    Your comment somewhat missed the mark. The ancient cultures were aural, their people had superior memory faculties compared to our own in our age, their minds could contain the whole memorized books. It was normal for somebody in that age to hear a long speech and then repeat it word by word. When somebody wanted to make an argument or give an exposition of some facts or point to a truth there was no need to make a speech and quote whole texts or documents, one simply quoted a first line from them and then was sure that people who listened would fill in the rest from their memory. Jesus acted naturally, he used the fact that people were well versed in the religious texts to sum up, to give the final proclamation of his ministry and the final revelation of his earthly ministry about himself; he simply quoted the first line of the 22nd psalm [or 21st, the numbering varies. The ‘Masoretic’ numbering (22) is commonly used, especially in the USA, but we should use ‘the Septuagint’ numbering (21) since the New Testament, when quoting the holy texts, quotes predominantly from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Jesus himself quotes the Septuagint in Isaiah 29:13. The second and the third person of the Trinity pointed to it as the right canon of the scriptures.]
    Those who were willing to understand him did comprehend, the 22nd/21st psalm was a messianic text, it was a prophecy of the suffering Messiah and Christ stated its fulfillment.
    The links to the texts that I quote here :

    “So here is the context: in Jesus’ time, there was no such thing as a numbering system for chapters and verses of the Bible. If you wanted to reference a section of the Torah, you did so by stating the first line of the the section you wanted to reference. What Jesus is doing here is referencing Psalm 22 (alternately numbered as psalm 21 in some bibles) for the scribes and pharisees present. What is contained in this psalm?
    1) A reference to being forsaken… a direct reference to those who stood at the foot of the cross and taunted for Christ to save Himself… not to say that He WAS forsaken, but to pay attention to what comes next in the psalm
    2) A messianic prophecy which clearly was fulfilled on Calvary
    3) A message that the psalmist, and Christ by extension, were NEVER abandoned by God, but rather that by passing through the darkness of their trials they were fulfilling Gods plan and bringing about the abundant glory of God.
    Imagine, then, being a scribe… having looked at psalm 22 for years and wondering what David, who was never captured and tortured in such a way, could possibly have meant… to be standing there taunting Jesus when He references that psalm… to realize that psalm 22 is clearly a prophecy, that it is unfolding before your eyes, and that the son of David, the Messiah, is dying on the cross right before you in accordance with the plan of God…”


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