Monday, June 09, 2008

Should We Be Praying to Jesus?

As followers of Jesus should we pray to him? The answer is yes. The best synopsis in support of this is in Putting Jesus In His Place: The Case For The Deity Of Christ, by Robert Bowman and J. Ed Komoszewski. Here’s their reasoning, briefly.

In the Old Testament the only object of prayer is God. God is the one who answers prayer (Psalm 65:2). “Prayer” is, essentially, communication with God.

Because we see, in the New Testament, prayers being given to Jesus, the pray-er approaches Jesus as God, since the only object of prayer is God. Since Jesus’ cultural-religious context was monotheism (belief that there is only one God) to pray to Jesus is only possible if Jesus is himself divine.

In Acts 1:24-25 we see the first Christians praying to Jesus. Before choosing a new apostle the early Jesus-followers prayed like this: “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” By addressing their prayers to the “Lord,” we can conclude they meant Jesus. This is because:

1) Luke most frequently used “Lord” to refer to Jesus.
2) Peter had just referred to “the Lord Jesus (Acts 1:21) prior to this prayer to the “Lord.”
3) It was Jesus who had previously personally chosen his apostles.

In Acts 7:59-60 Stephen, as he is being stoned to death, prays to Jesus. We read that “He prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he died.”

The great Yale historian and theologian Jaroslav Pelikan comments on this passage: “For Stephen to commit his spirit to the Lord Jesus when the Lord Jesus himself had committed his spirit to the Father was either an act of blatant idolatry or the acknowledge of the kurios Iesus [Lord Jesus] as the fitting recipient of the dying prayer of Jesus.”

In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 we read that three times Paul prayed to Jesus to deliver him from some kind of infirmity.

In John 14:14 Jesus himself encouraged his followers to pray to him when he said, “Whatever you ask in my name, I will do.”

In addition to these things, the book of Revelation closes with a prayer asking Jesus to come back soon – “Come [Maranatha], Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20-21)

When we pray to Jesus we are on solid historical grounds. And, to pray to Jesus is to acknowledge that Jesus is God the Son, since only God is to be addressed in what we call prayer.