By Danielle Bernock, Crosswalk.com
Who are we to pray to as Christians? Are we supposed to pray to Jesus? Or are we supposed to pray to the Father? What about the Holy Spirit? Can we pray to the Holy Spirit?
These questions plague many believers, keeping them from praying at all, due to fear of praying in the wrong way.
If this is you, let me lay your fears to rest with a question, and then I’ll elaborate. First the question: Is the Holy Spirit God? If you answered yes, then yes you can pray to the Holy Spirit, who is God. I understand it feels much more complicated than that, so I’ll elaborate.
Why the Confusion?
The most prominent pattern of prayer in the New Testament is to the Father, in the name of Jesus.
“In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full” (John 16:23-24).
But when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he directed them to address the Father but didn’t mention using his name.
This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:9-13).
However, we find prayers directed to Jesus also.
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep (Acts 7:59-60).
But then this passage illustrates the need for some sort of communication with the Holy Spirit, as well.
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you” (John 16:13-15).
What Are We Told about the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is much more prominent in the scriptures than some realize. He took part in creation.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (Genesis 1:1-2).
Helped Gideon defeat Israel’s enemies.
But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon; then he blew the trumpet, and the Abiezrites gathered behind him (Judges 6:34).
Spoke prophecy through the prophet Isaiah.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound (Isaiah 61:1).
Was promised by Jesus to come help us.
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).
Fills believers as Jesus promised.
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
Develops fruit in us.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23, 25).
And speaks to us.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Revelation 2:7).
These are just a few things the Holy Spirit does. Clearly, he has a role to play in our lives.
Although we are never told in Scripture to pray to him, we are never told not to. One thing that can help us untangle and simplify who to pray to is discussing the trinity.
What Is the Trinity
The term “trinity” isn’t in the Bible. The word didn’t come into use until the late second century. Without getting too deep into history, the Trinity is the oneness of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or as some put it, the Godhead.
The Trinity is one God found in three distinct persons. Not three Gods, just one. Throughout the Bible, we find evidence of the triune nature of God. Here are a few examples.
In creation, it is written, “Let us make man in our image… (Genesis 1:26), it is not, “let me make man in my image.”
At Jesus’ baptism, it is written, “and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased’” (Matthew 3:16).
And in Peter’s sermon following Pentecost, it is written, “Jesus was taken up to sit at the right side of God, and he was given the Holy Spirit, just as the Father had promised. Jesus is also the one who has given the Spirit to us, and this is what you are now seeing and hearing” (Acts 2:33).
The most important thing to remember is that God desires to be in relationship with us and that requires prayer.
It matters less who you address when you pray. It matters more that you do pray to God alone.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/ThitareeSarmkasat
Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, speaker, and coach who helps people embrace their value and heal their soul through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn (now available in audio), Love’s Manifesto and Because You Matter. A long time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/