Who Do We Pray To? Part 4
by Karl Kemp 10/10/2011 / Bible Studies
1 Timothy 5:5. "Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God [God the Father] and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day." Also see 1 Tim. 4:3-5, which I didn't quote.
2 Timothy 4:16-18. "At my first defense [in Rome] no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. (17) But the Lord [the Lord Jesus] stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion's mouth. (18) The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him [to the Lord Jesus] be the glory forever and ever. Amen."
Philemon 1:4-6. "I thank my God [God the Father] always, making mention of you in my prayers, (5) because I hear of your love and of the faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus [We again see the Persons of God the Father and God the Son here, as we do so often throughout the New Testament, and the preeminent role of God the Father is emphasized.] and toward all the saints; (6) and I pray [to God the Father] that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ's sake."
Hebrews 13:15, 16, 18-21. "Through Him [Jesus Christ] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God [God the Father], that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. ... (18) Pray for us [In this context, in which the preeminent role of the Father is emphasized (also see verses 20, 21), the prayers would undoubtedly be addressed to God the Father through Jesus Christ (or we could say, in the name of Jesus Christ).], for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. (19) And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner. (20) Now the God of peace [The words that follow confirm that God the Father is being addressed here.], who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, (21) equip you in every good thing to do His will [God the Father's will], working in us that which is pleasing in His sight [God the Father's sight], through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen." Most commentators believe the words "to whom be the glory forever and ever" refer to God the Father here. I agree, but this doesn't mean that the same words could not be applied to the Lord Jesus in a different context (see 2 Tim. 4:18).
James 1:5-8. "But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God [God the Father], who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given him. (6) But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. (7) For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord [Many commentators think "the Lord" here refers to God the Father. They are probably right. Sometimes "the Lord" [Greek "kurios"] refers to God the Father in the book of James (see James 5:10, 11 for some obvious examples)], (8) being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways."
James 5:13-18. "Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray [The verses that follow confirm, along with James 1:5, that James is thinking of prayer addressed to God the Father.]. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. (14) Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord [Anointing with oil for healing is only mentioned one other place in the New Testament (Mark 6:13), so this is not the only way to pray for the sick. As is typical, we pray to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus. Like I have mentioned, even when we don't say the words "in the name of Jesus" (or similar words), we understand that our new-covenant relationship with God the Father has come to us in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.]; (15) and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord [the Lord Jesus (see John 14:13, 14; 16:23, 24, for example)] will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. [Sometimes sin is the cause of the sickness (see John 5:14; 1 Cor. 11:27-32, for example). (I had a footnote: These verses are discussed verse-by-verse in my paper that includes 1 Corinthians chapter 10-14.) It is assumed, of course, that if the person has sinned, they will confess their sins and repent. See the next verse.] (16) Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (17) Elijah was a righteous man with a nature like ours [Elijah wasn't born again, so we must qualify what James says here. The new birth wasn't available until after Jesus has dethroned sin, spiritual death, and Satan and his hosts through His atoning death.], and he prayed earnestly [to Yahweh; the glorious name Yahweh, which was used more than 6,800 times in the Old Testament, centered in God the Father] that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit."
1 Peter 3:8-12. I'll just quote verse 12. "FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL." The NASB put these words in capital letters because verses 10-12 were quoted from the Old Testament, Psalm 34:12-15. The word "LORD," which is used twice here in verse 12 was Yahweh in the Hebrew, which, as I mentioned, typically refers to God the Father in the Old Testament, even as the word God typically refers to God the Father in the New Testament.
1 John 3:20-24. I'll just quote verses 21, 22 here. "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us [In context the apostle John is speaking of our heart's not condemning us because we are walking in love and living as God requires us to live.], we have confidence before God [God the Father]; (22) and whatever we ask we receive from Him [from God the Father], because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." We cannot earn God's blessings, but our sin can block the flow of His blessings. The next verse (23) goes on to mention "His [God the Father's] Son Jesus Christ" and verse 24 goes on to mention the Holy Spirit, so we see the three Persons of the Trinity here. 1 John 3:16-23 are discussed in some detail in my "Paper on Faith."
1 John 5:14-17. "This is the confidence which we have before Him [There is very widespread agreement that "Him" refers to God the Father, who plays a dominant role in this chapter. The NIV, for example, translates, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God. I agree with this viewpoint.], that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. [Of course we must pray in accordance with the will of God. The New Testament also shows the need for us to pray in faith, and it shows that we can block the flow of God's answers to our prayers by not living in accordance with His will (see 1 John 3:21, 22, verses quoted above).] (15) And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him. (16) [In this verse the apostle John gives an example of a prayer that God will answer and an example of one He probably won't (or, won't) answer.] If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading [I would skip the word "leading," which the NASB inserted in italics here and three more times as we continue.] to death [not unto (spiritual) death], he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death [not unto (spiritual) death]. There is a sin leading to death [a sin unto (spiritual) death]; I do not say that he should make request for this. (17) All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death [not unto (spiritual) death]." In the context of this epistle, a prime example of a sin unto spiritual death would be for true Christians to willfully turn from Christ and join the Gnostic heretics (who are dealt with throughout this epistle), who denied that sin is the problem and that the blood of Jesus is the answer.
3 John 1:2. "Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in health, just as your soul prospers." Based on the precedent established in the Gospel of John and in the First Epistle of John (not to mention the rest of the New Testament), I believe we can rather safely assume that John addressed this prayer to God the Father. There is nothing in the context of this epistle to indicate otherwise. This is one of the few verses throughout this study where it isn't confirmed that the prayer is addressed to God the Father.
Jude 1:24, 25. "Now to Him [God the Father] who is able to keep you from stumbling [and to keep you, therefore, fully ready to stand before Him at the end of this age] and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, (25) to the only wise God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." Again we see the distinct Persons of God the Father and God the Son, which is so common throughout the New Testament, and the preeminent role of God the Father is strongly emphasized.
As I mentioned, I won't list any passages from the book of Revelation. The full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ is emphasized in the book of Revelation (as I have documented in my papers that deal with the book of Revelation; see under Rev. 21:6 in my paper that discusses Revelation chapters 20-22 verse-by-verse), but God the Father clearly has the preeminent role in the book of Revelation. See, for example, Rev. 1:1, 4-6 (In Rev. 1:6, for example, it speaks of God the Father being "His [Jesus'] God and Father."); 4:2-5:10 (God the Father is the One on the throne in Revelation chapter 4, as Rev. 5:5-8 confirm.).
SUMMARY OF WHAT WE FIND IN THESE PASSAGES:
I'll List the Passages Here Where Prayer Is Addressed to God the Father (and where the Persons of God the Father and God the Son are both mentioned):
((I had a lengthy footnote here: I have found that many Christians, even Christians who say they believe in the Trinity, don't understand that the Son of God existed as a Person with God the Father before He became a man [the God-man], but the Bible is clear on this very important point. See, for example, John 1:1-3, 14; 3:17, 31; 6:38; 8:42, 58; 17:5; Phil. 2:5-8; Col. 1:16, 17; Heb. 1:1-3, 10-12; 1 John 1:1; Rev. 22:13. Many of these verses show that the Son was there with the Father in the beginning, before any creation took place. He wasn't created, rather all things were created through Him. If He had been created, He wouldn't be deity. The Son was there with the Father before time was created (time as we know it in our created universe) along with our world. Many more verses that teach the preexistence of the Son are listed and/or discussed in my paper titled, "The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son." Micah 5:2 says of Him, "His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity."
The New Testament is full of verses which show that God the Father and God the Son were distinct Persons when Jesus lived on the earth in His physical body. So too, the New Testament is full of verses which demonstrate that after the Lord Jesus was resurrected and glorified He continued being a Person distinct from God the Father and that He will continue forever as a Person distinct from God the Father. Revelation 22:1-3, for example, show that in the eternal state that will follow the millennial kingdom, God the Father and God the Son will both be reigning on the throne. There too God the Father will have the preeminent role, as He always has [see 1 Cor. 15:27, 28, for example].))
Matthew 6:5-15 (Also see Luke 11:1-13, where we also see the Holy Spirit mentioned, so we see the Trinity.)
Matthew 18:19, 20
Mark 11:12-14, 20-26
John 15:16 (Jesus mentioned praying to God the Father in His [Jesus'] name.)
John 16:23-28 (Jesus mentioned praying to God the Father in His name.)
John 14:12-14 (Jesus mentioned praying to God the Father in His name.)
Acts 4:23-31 (I had a footnote: I believe Acts 1:14, 24 could be listed here, but I won't list these verses. On God as the One who knows the hearts of all men, see Acts 15:8. Acts 3:19; 4:24, 25, 29; 17:24 [with 17:31], for example, show that "[the] Lord" sometimes refers to God the Father in the book of Acts.) (Verse 30 requested God the Father to extend His hand to heal and that signs and wonders take place though the name of Jesus, which is comparable with praying in Jesus' name. The Holy Spirit is also mentioned in these verses, so we see the Trinity here, as we often do in the New Testament.)
Romans 8:34 (The Lord Jesus, who is at the right hand of God the Father, intercedes before Him in our behalf. Again we see the preeminent role of God the Father, and we clearly see two Persons.)
Romans 15:5, 6 (The preeminent role of God the Father is quite clear here, as it so often is.)
Romans 15:30-33 (We also see the Holy Spirit in these verses, so this is another passage where we see the Trinity.)
Romans 16:25-27 (This is a doxology, which is a hymn designed to praise and glorify God, is addressed to God the Father, which strongly confirms the preeminent role of God the Father.)
1 Corinthians 1:4-9 (Thanksgiving is directed to God the Father for His saving grace in Christ Jesus.)
1 Corinthians 15:57
2 Corinthians 2:14
2 Corinthians 13:5-10
Ephesians 3:14-21 (The Holy Spirit is also mentioned in these verses, so we see the Trinity here.)
Ephesians 6:10-20 (We also see the Holy Spirit in these verses, so this is another passage where we see the Trinity.)
Philippians 4:19, 20
Colossians 1:3-14 (The Holy Spirit is also mentioned in these verses, so we see the Trinity here.)
1 Thessalonians 1:2, 3
1 Thessalonians 2:13
1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18
1 Thessalonians 5:23-25
2 Thessalonians 1:3, 11, 12
1 Timothy 1:12-17 (The preeminent role of God the Father is strongly emphasized in verse 17.)
1 Timothy 2:1-8 (The preeminent role of God the Father is strongly emphasized in verse 5.)
1 Timothy 5:5
Hebrews 13:15, 16, 20, 21
1 John 3:20-24 (The Holy Spirit is mentioned in these verses, so we see the Trinity here.)
Jude 1:24, 25 (The preeminent role of God the Father is strongly emphasized in these
In the next passages listed, prayer is addressed to God the Father, but the Lord Jesus Christ isn't mentioned. It is amazing how often God the Father and the Lord Jesus are mentioned together throughout the New Testament in ways that confirm that they are distinct Persons.
Romans 8:26, 27 (Prayer is addressed to God the Father by the Holy Spirit, our infinitely
competent Helper, who [while dwelling within us] intercedes for us. These verses strongly confirm that God the Father has the preeminent role and that He and the Holy Spirit are distinct Persons.)
Romans 15:13 (We see God the Father and the Holy Spirit here.)
1 Corinthians 11:13
2 Corinthians 8:16
2 Corinthians 9:15
1 Timothy 5:5
1 Peter 3:8-12
1 John 5:14-17
3 John 1:2
The following five passages are the only passages in the New Testament (that I am aware of) that include prayers directly addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ:
John 20:28, 29. When the resurrected Christ first appeared to the apostle Thomas, Thomas said to Him, "My Lord and my God."
Acts 7:54-60. Stephen saw, in a vision, the glorified Lord Jesus at the right hand of God the Father. He prayed to Him in verses 59, 60, asking Him to receive his spirit and to not hold this sin against those who killed him.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13. Here the apostle Paul starts out praying to God the Father; then he addresses a request to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; and then he addresses a request to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is clear in these verses that God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are distinct Persons and that God the Father has the preeminent role.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5, 16. (I had a footnote: These verses should be considered in conjunction with 2 Thess. 2:3, 11, 12, verses that are quoted and discussed above.) Here the apostle Paul starts out thanking God the Father for His plan of salvation (thanking God is a type of prayer), which includes His choosing us, calling us and sanctifying us by His Spirit through faith. Next he addresses a prayer to "our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God the Father" at the end of chapter 2 (2:16, 17). Then at the beginning of chapter 3, he requests prayer for himself and his fellow workers, but he doesn't specify to whom the prayer is to be addressed. As we have seen, typically it would be addressed to God the Father, but in this context it could also be addressed to God the Father and the Lord Jesus, or just to the Lord Jesus. In 3:5 Paul addresses a prayer to the Lord Jesus. Actually Paul just said "the Lord," but there is widespread agreement that he meant the Lord Jesus. And in 3:16 Paul requested that the Lord of peace continually grant them peace in every circumstance, and there is widespread agreement that Paul meant the Lord Jesus.
2 Timothy 4:16-18. A short, but important, doxology addressed to the Lord Jesus is included in verse 18, "to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen."
We'll complete this article in Part 5
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.