Prayers: To whom should we address them?
We’re clearly told that as believers we’re to make a habit of praying. We have a simple but important command on that.
I Thessalonians 5:17
17 Pray without ceasing. [Emphasis added]
Because we as believers have access to God, this represents an ongoing opportunity.
18 For through him [Jesus Christ] we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. [Emphasis added]
This means that at ANY time or place we can make requests of Him through prayer.
6 Be careful for nothing [stop worrying about anything]; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [Emphasis added]
As noted in this verse, prayer time should always be a time of thanksgiving. But to whom should we address our prayers? Who are we to think of as the recipient? I’ve always been amazed at the way people begin their prayers. If you’ve spent much time around people praying, you’ve probably heard some interesting things. Have you ever thought about the examples we have in Scripture on this? Apparently, most people haven’t [or they’re not paying attention and learning from it] because you’ll hear everything from Lord, Dear Lord, Jesus, Lord Jesus, Dear Jesus, Oh Holy Spirit and more. My personal favorite was a youth pastor I heard about that once started his prayer with “Hey God!” Many prayers are even addressed to Mary, the mother of Jesus. But what do the Scriptures tell us about this?
I guess the first thing you need to know is that you won’t find an example of even one prayer in all the Bible that addresses God with any of the above examples I just gave. Not one! So why do people do this? Where do people get the idea that any of these are appropriate for prayer. You may think I’m nit-picking to bring this up, but I don’t think so. I think we need to make the object of our prayers the One to whom we need to be respectfully addressing. Don’t you? Furthermore, I think we’ve been given an abundance of examples for this. Obviously, it is God to whom we are speaking.
3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,
4 Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, [Emphasis added]
But to which member of the Godhead are we to address our prayers? Let’s look at a few examples our apostle Paul gives us.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. [Emphasis added]
12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: [Emphasis added]
18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. [Emphasis added]
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, [Emphasis added]
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and [even] the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; [Emphasis added]
Even in the so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” what did Jesus give the apostles as an example? Answer: “Our Father!”
So, where did people get the idea that prayers should ever be addressed to anyone but God, the Father? As with a lot of religious things people believe, it was made up. It isn’t of God.
When I was in college, I remember reading a book called, Know Why You Believe. Hopefully we all know WHAT we believe, but it’s so important that we know WHY we believe it. In this case, what do the Scriptures tell us? Answer: All our prayers are to be addressed to God, the Father, and no one else.
We also find in the Scriptures that it is through Jesus Christ that we’re able to go to the Father with our prayers. In other words, it is because of the merits of Christ, and not our own, that we pray to God the Father. This is what praying “in the name of Christ” is all about.
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; [Emphasis added]
It is because of Him and our united relationship with Him as our Savior that we can expect to get a response to our prayers. It is because of this that we’re in a position to be confident, even bold, about getting a response to our prayers.
12 In whom [speaking of Christ] we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. [Emphasis added]
By the faith OF Him means we’re making our appeal based on His merits, and not our own. It is Christ who is then also our mediator in our prayers. This merit was provided through His death, burial, and resurrection in our behalf.
I Timothy 2:5
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [Emphasis added]
It is Christ who has the perfect standing before God to enable us to have effectiveness in our prayers. It is His righteousness and not our own that’s given us that.
II Corinthians 5:21
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]
We are in no position at all to approach God on the basis of our own merits. Again, this is why all our prayers are to be offered in Christ’s name, not our own.
When we pray it is also by the help of God, the Holy Spirit.
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. [Emphasis added]
This reminds us that quite often we really don’t know for sure what we should be requesting in our prayers. But the Holy Spirit knows exactly what is needed in any given situation. Therefore, regardless of what we ask in prayer, the Holy Spirit intercedes in our behalf to ask exactly what really is needed in any given situation. That’s why we can be at ease with what the outcome will be with our prayers. Please note the next verse after what we just read.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
What He requests may not be what we think we want, but it will be exactly what He knows we need. Therefore, we just need to get on with the praying, trusting God to know what is best, and what is ultimately His will in the matter. The indwelling Holy Spirit links us to God the Father through Jesus Christ our Savior and Mediator.
Therefore, we can conclude that all our prayers are to be addressed to God the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is when we do this that we can know we are praying in the most effective way possible.
Sometimes believers hinder themselves in prayer by getting all bogged down in focusing on their own sinfulness. There are several things we should realize about this.
1—There will never be a request we ever make in prayer where we deserve an answer because of our own merits. Again, this is why we are to pray in the name of Christ our Savior. Whatever answer we get will be based on His merits, not our own. That’s why it is sometimes said that when we pray we approach the throne of grace.
15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. [Emphasis added]
2—All our sins are forgiven because they were all judged in Christ when He suffered and died for them. It was Christ, therefore, who has already paid the penalty for them. This means they are already forgiven. This is the reason it is foolish to ask for forgiveness of sins in a prayer. Why would we ever ask for something we already have?
7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; [Emphasis added]
Again, let’s get on with the praying, making it a habit. Because of God’s grace we’ve been given personal access to Him through prayer. It is only because of our own ignorance [not knowing any better] and arrogance [thinking we don’t need to pray] that keeps us from praying every day. As the old hymn says,
What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!