Dear Jesus … In Jesus’ Name?

I heard it again today: praying to Jesus, and then closing the prayer “in Jesus’ name”. This is pious, well-intentioned, heterodoxy. I won’t take the time to proof-text this (unless someone either asks sweetly or calls it heterodoxy in turn). However, I think it’s fairly obvious that we are to pray to God the Father, in the name of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is how the ancient Church used to pray (note the closing benedictions at the ends of John Chrysostom’s sermons), and it makes good Trinitarian sense. Jesus did not pray to himself. Jesus told us to ask things in his name. And Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit prays with us (Ro. 8:26).

I should also mention that I heard a seminary-trained pastor do this! If seminaries aren’t teaching men to pray properly, what are they doing???

WWJP – what would Jesus pray? I’m sure God accepts our confused prayers, but there’s no need to perpetuate this anti-Trinitarian praying.


4 thoughts on “Dear Jesus … In Jesus’ Name?

  1. Great verse, Paul. I admit there is more to the issue. Praying to God the Father is praying to the Son, since the Trinity is One God. However, there is an interesting textual variant here (I know this is an easy escape route!) But, the King James reads: “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”

    And, the Majority Greek Text does not include the “me”. On the other hand, it does say that “I will do it.” Jesus is central, both in the mediation of the Father’s words, and in the mediation of the Father’s power. Trinitarian thinking, and Trinitarian prayer, should always lead us from one Person to the Others. What I was opposing was what I see as a neglect of the Father and the Spirit in much contemporary prayer.

    Thanks for the input.

  2. I have been looking at scripture for the truth of this matter. jesus tells us in john 16:23 that his disciples will no longer ask him for anything but will ask his father in His name. So it all seems clear and straightforward. Then i read in Acts 7:59 Stephen prays to Jesus directly asking Lord Jesus recieve my spirit. Is that an exception. the way i see it, we should not doubt the text as inspired. Are we to consider Stephen as a man inspired, filled with the holy spirit at that point. What is your view.

  3. Hi, Phil:

    Great question! Other texts to consider are Romans 8:34 and Heb. 7:25, where Jesus makes intercession for us. Christ not only reigns at the Father’s right hand, but also prays for his people. Perhaps a good way to see it would be to recognize that whenever we pray “to” Jesus, he automatically presents our request to the Father.

    I think that prayer should recognize the glorious Trinity somehow, though I don’t want to lay down any rules that aren’t in Scripture.

    A question now bugging me is: Can we address the Holy Spirit directly in prayer? I want to say yes, but I need to study a bit more.

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