In order for prayers to be heard, does it matter whether one prays to God the Father, Jesus the Son of God or the Holy Spirit? Or does one simply pray to "God"?
- Gord from Canada
The Heart of Prayer (Part 1)
One of the very best prayers I ever heard of was from a missionary to Africa who was surrounded one day by a very hostile tribe of people. He had no way out and no one to assist him and could not even understand what had gone wrong. He screamed to the top of his lungs: JESUS! Suddenly, a hand grabbed the back of his collar and pulled him into a car which sped away to safety. He was heard and answered.
When we are sincere and our heart reaches up to God it doesn't much matter exactly "how" we pray; we are heard whether we pray to the Father, Son or Holy Spirit. I remember myself uttering this simple prayer that started me on the road to truth: "God, if you are real, make yourself known to me and I will serve you."
So the first criterion in being "heard" has to do with the condition of our heart. That is always where God is looking. When Samuel was looking for God's choice for a new king among the sons of Jesse the Lord said to him; "For the Lord does not see as man see; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)
Some people tack on "in Jesus name" at the end of every prayer. They feel they are following the admonition in John 14:13 which says; "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." That's fine - nothing wrong with that - as long as we aren't making it into a spiritual formula. Again, God is always looking at our heart.
Our best example of how to pray properly to be heard should come from Jesus himself.
Next: How did Jesus pray?
How Jesus Prayed (Part 2)
When the disciples asked the Lord to teach them how to pray he gave them what has come to be known as the Lord's Prayer. In it, he addresses God this way; "Our Father in heaven…" (Matthew 6:9) Since Jesus invites us to call God our Father, I think we should do it.
"Father" expresses two things: relationship and authority. When we receive the gift of eternal life through the shed blood of Jesus Christ we become sons and daughters of God and we can approach him as our father. That makes our relationship very personal and intimate; we have an "in" with the God who created the whole universe.
That Father is also the one who holds all authority in heaven and on earth. As his children, we are looking up at him, approaching him with the familiarity of parent to child and expecting to be heard and answered.
In Paul's letter to the Romans he reminds believers; "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.'" (Romans 8:15) Abba is the Hebrew term of endearment for Father comparable to "Daddy".
On a day to day basis, we would do well to address ourselves to God the Father just the way Jesus often did. It is also good to remind ourselves of why we are privileged to do this. "Father God, I approach your throne boldly because of the covering of the blood of Jesus. I am your child because Jesus reconciled us through his death. Therefore I call you Father."
My own prayer life contains prayers specifically directed to all three persons of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit depending on the situation. There is nothing wrong with saying; "Holy Spirit, come" or "Lord Jesus, please help me right now" or Father, please protect me." God responds to all of it because he is always leaning down hoping to hear from us.
Next: Is there a particular time to pray "in the name of Jesus"?
"In the Name of Jesus..." (Part 3)
I have noticed in the scriptures that there is a particular time to pray in the name of Jesus. One of the times is in casting out demons. For instance, in Luke 10 the Lord sent out seventy disciples two by two to introduce cities and towns to the kingdom of God. They were to preach, heal the sick and cast out demons.
"Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.'" (Luke 10:17) The disciples were casting out the demons in the name of Jesus - not God the Father. Jesus himself, when meeting up with the demoniac in the country of the Gadarenes in Luke 8, he did not say, "Father, please remove those demons." He directly confronted them in his own name and by his own authority.
Performing miracles or healing the sick is another instance cited in scripture to speak in the name of Jesus. When Peter extended healing to the lame man at the Gate Beautiful in Acts 3:6 he said; "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."
What is this telling us? In our private prayer life we will probably most often address God the Father. In a ministry setting where we are praying for the sick, performing miracles or delivering people from demonic infestation, we should do those things in Jesus name.
Why? Where we are pressing the kingdom of God to replace the kingdom of darkness on the earth we need a higher authority than the authority the devil operates under. Only a higher authority can kick Satan out. The name of Jesus is the ultimate authority. Jesus said; "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." (Matthew 28:18)