Questions and Answers | Tomorrow’s World — March/April 2024

Should We Pray to God the Father or to Jesus Christ?

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To better understand to whom we should pray, we should consider the words of Christ on the subject.

Question: Jesus’ death and resurrection removed the veil between human beings and God the Father (Matthew 27:51; 2 Corinthians 3:14–16). Since we now have direct contact with the Father—unlike the ancients, who only knew the God of the Old Testament, now revealed as Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4)—why do we need to pray to Jesus? In fact, should we be praying to Christ at all, since He came to reveal the Father (Matthew 11:27; John 14:7)?

Answer: It is surprising to see how many in mainstream “Christianity” almost totally ignore God the Father in their prayers. This is ironic, since Christ Himself in His “model prayer” taught His followers to begin their prayers after the manner of “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (Matthew 6:9). Jesus Christ personally taught Christians to direct their prayers toward God the Father.

Even though Christ, as the Word of God, had existed from eternity with God the Father (John 1:1–4), He deferred to His Father. In agreement with His Father’s will, He chose to become flesh (John 1:14–15). Considering Himself the servant of His Father, He did not in any way seek to draw attention away from God the Father. Indeed, He considered Himself subordinate, telling His disciples, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28).

Jesus never resisted His Father’s will. Knowing that He would soon be crucified, Christ prayed to His Father, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42). Indeed, Jesus was one in thought, attitude, and purpose with His Father (John 10:22–39).

So, we should follow Christ’s words and example, and primarily direct our prayers to God the Father. But, when we pray to the Father, we must never forget that we can only do so by the authority of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).

Obeying Jesus Christ’s Teachings

Christ is connected intimately to His Father. The Apostle Paul hoped that our “hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2–3). God the Father does not want us to lack a loving, personal relationship with His beloved Son (Matthew 17:5).

Scripture gives us the example of the deacon Stephen—the first recorded martyr after Christ’s resurrection. “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’” (Acts 7:59). Even at the very end of his life, while he was being murdered for his bold preaching, Stephen called out not to God the Father, but to Jesus Christ, his Savior. Stephen knew that he had a profound relationship with both God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Jesus accepted worship—the reverence of others—directed toward Him. When He appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, “they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him” (Matthew 28:9). Since His resurrection and ascension, the glorified Jesus Christ has sat at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 10:12; 1 Peter 3:21–22). As our High Priest and Mediator, He intercedes continually for us, His disciples (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 7:25–26). As our Creator and our Savior, He is worthy of worship and of receiving our prayers. If we have a relationship with Christ, we will obey Him and pray to God the Father, but we will never forget that it is our relationship with Christ that allows us to know the Father (John 14:6; 17:20–23).

No, it is not wrong to pray to Jesus Christ—but we should not dismiss Christ’s instruction that we pray to His Father. We will please and honor Christ far more by obeying what He taught than by minimizing or ignoring His direct command that we pray first and foremost to our Father in Heaven.


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