When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, he introduced a new way to address and even think of God – as our Father. Before then, prayers did not begin this way even though some verses referred to him as father. It wasn’t appropriate to do so as it was too familiar and didn’t show the proper respect. But Jesus went so far as to use the intimate term “Abba,” which probably shocked some of the Jews. We pray to him and we think of him as our Father both because of Jesus’ example and because we have been adopted as God’s children.
Some will tell you not to pray directly to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. Some will tell you to give the Father, Son and Spirit equal time and if you don’t, you may be guilty of neglecting one or the other. I’m addressing this because I quoted someone in a previous post who said exactly that – if we don’t pray to the Holy Spirit, we should repent and begin giving him equal attention. If you searched for this person on the Internet, you may have found his article and wondered about this. Is he correct? Should we repent of neglecting Jesus or the Holy Spirit if we are not giving equal attention to each person of the Trinity?
The answer is no. This kind of thinking is tritheism, separating the one God into three gods or three beings. He is indivisibly one with three distinctions. When we pray to the Father, we are also praying to Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When we commune with Jesus, we are communing with the Holy Spirit and the Father. We don’t have to worry that we’ve been neglecting the Spirit if we only pray to the Father or to Jesus. We do acknowledge and understand that Christian prayer is to the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit, but thinking of God as three separate beings who each demand equal time is to misunderstand his triune nature. God is one in three and three in one and hears our prayers no matter how we address him. Believing he feels neglected or gets offended is thinking he’s like us and making him over into our image.
(For more on the triune nature of God, go to www.gci.org/youre-included/, featuring interviews with trinitarian theologians.)