“Our Father who art in heaven…”
Our prayers to God often address God the Father, and rightly so, as Christ taught us to pray in such a way. We are also told in John 4:23, that the Father is seeking worshippers. Yet, a question has developed in thinking about this reality:
Can we pray to and worship the other Persons of the Trinity?
Should our praise be centered on the Father as Jesus told the woman at the well that “the Father is seeking worshippers?” (John 4:23) I will concede that while the Father is often the object of our worship, both tradition and Scripture reveal that the other members of the Godhead also can, and are to be worshipped. The Nicene Creed tells us the “Holy Spirit…with the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified.” And in the book of Revelation 22:3, of Jesus it is said: “the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship Him.” Many of the hymns in [good] hymnbooks reflect this concern, with verses dedicated to the Father, then to the Son, then to the Spirit. If your hymnal does not do this, consider this one that does:
I think this principle can also be extended to our prayer life. We often pray to the Father, ending with an appeal to the Son (“in Jesus’ name”). The Father is traditionally the object of our prayers in worship, often with us thanking the Father for His only-begotten Son and for the Spirit He sent. This formula originates in the very earliest liturgies of the church:
While the Father may be object of the Lord’s Prayer, this should not restrict us to prayer only to the Father. It is true that there is no verse that says “pray to Christ.” But I see a close connection between prayer and worship. If worship is addressed to each member, then I think prayer should be as well, as our worship should be prayer. We should worship Christ, so why not pray to Him? I think this is appropriate too, as the last words addressed to God in Scripture are addressed to the Person of the Son in Revelation: “Come Lord Jesus. Amen.” However, we should be conscious of which Person we are praying to, not thanking The Father or dying for us, or the Son for converting us. Certain traditions have developed liturgical prayers with this very concern in mind. Puritans often had Trinitarian petitions in their prayers beginning with “O Father” or “O Son” depending on the object of that prayer or petition. For examples see: the Valley of Vision.
I cannot say my thoughts on this are fully developed, so I welcome suggestions, nuances and constructive compliments of my CRM crew!