Whenever I pray in public, I make a point of addressing my prayers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Some people pray to the Father others pray to the Holy Spirit, but I pray to Jesus Christ. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with praying to the Father or the Holy Spirit. The three members of the trinity are one in divine love and they are all God so prayer addressed to any of the three is fine, but I think it is important to pray to Jesus Christ for a number of reasons.
One reason is that Jesus Christ is the Christian distinctive. The belief that distinguishes Christianity from other religions is the belief that God became a man who walked among us and died for our sins. That man was Jesus Christ and belief in His divine nature is unique among the religions of the world. Other religions acknowledge and worship the Father, but only one religion believes that God became man. I think that it is important that we affirm and acknowledge our belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ by directing our prayers to Him.
A more important reason I make a point of praying to Jesus is that I want to show the proper respect for the one who died on the cross for me. Consider the following verses:
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8-9)
This is an astonishing couple of verses. Philip addresses Jesus as “Lord” and asks to be shown the father. Jesus rebukes him with the words, “Have I been with you so long and you still do not know me Philip?” Philip has been granted one of the greatest privileges in human history and has gotten to know God face to face. Despite this enormous privilege, Philip expresses dissatisfaction and expresses the desire to see the father.
When I read the above verses and observe the behavior of some Christians toward Jesus Christ, an unpleasant picture forms in my mind. Imagine Jesus Christ standing before the father and welcoming us into the divine family as a number of Christians approach. In a hurry to get to the Father, some of the Christians push Jesus out of the way and rush the throne. They want to interact with the Father directly, so they ignore the Son. While these Christians typically pay lip service to Jesus by praying “in His name” and thereby recognizing that only Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross allows them to approach the Father, they neither directly thank nor acknowledge Jesus in their actual words. How about a little respect for the one who died on the cross for you? This is especially the case since Jesus promises to honor those who have gathered in His name through His personal attendance.
For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:20)
Another reason that I pray to Jesus is that I want to follow the example of King David.
The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1)
In this remarkable verse, David tells us of an exchange between the Father (the LORD) and the Son (my Lord). The fascinating thing about this verse is the use of the possessive personal pronouns. What is David saying when he distinguishes between the LORD and “my” lord? Why does the father describe the enemies as “your” enemies? Meditate on the many meanings of this verse and I think you will come to see the importance of acknowledging Jesus Christ in public prayer.
The bottom line for me is that Jesus is my Lord. The father is awesome and I do pray to Him in private, but He is also beyond comprehension. Living in a world full of fear, pain, death and disease, how do I know that the Father is loving and kind? Because I recognize the love and kindness of Jesus Christ and He says, “the father and I are one”. In a way, this whole website is an attempt to understand the incomprehensible goodness of the Father in terms of the comprehensible self-sacrificial love we see in Jesus Christ.
**As a final note on this essay, I was watching a video the other day where an educated and otherwise intelligent atheist said something incredibly stupid. He said that Jesus Christ had never claimed to be God in the New Testament. I wanted to say to him, “Really? We Christians have got the New Testament all wrong and Jesus was not God?” An atheist who says such a thing in light of verses like Matthew 18:20 above is just expressing his colossal ignorance and has sacrificed all credibility. Just an aside that occurred to me while I was writing this post and I thought I would add it as a note rather than adding another unfinished draft to the list of seventy or so that are already there.