We pray to God in the name of Jesus but do we pray to Jesus? I know we should talk to Him but what do we talk to God about vs. talk to Jesus about. I usually just pray to God in Jesus name but then I rarely talk to Jesus and then feel like my relationship with Him is lacking. What do we pray to God about vs pray to Jesus about? Or do we pray to one and talk to the other? Is there a difference between praying to them and talking to them?
I actually really love this question and the reason is because it allows me to help a bunch of people get some common Christian frustration cleaned up. What’s all this praying business about?
Prayer in its most basic for is communication. It is talking to God. Now God loves conversation with His people, He desires it greatly and I’ll get back to that specifically. There is truth to the idea that prayer can be simple and it can be complex. It’s conversation. Think about it like this, a kindergarten teacher and a college professor are both teachers but they have very different audiences. If a professor tried speaking to little kids the way he does to college students he would lose their attention quickly. I remember coming across my kindergarten teacher as an adult. She was just as sweet as she was when I was 5. All those years spent with children made her conversations different. It wasn’t bad, she was just used to a certain audience.
Similarly, no matter your age, when you come to God you’re a baby. He doesn’t expect for you to know everything and understand how spiritual things work. However, He does expect you’ll grow. My teacher when she saw me after all those years wasn’t disappointed that I was an adult. She was excited for me, even though I didn’t talk to her the way I did before.
When we read John 16:23-24, we see some wonderful truths about prayer. Jesus said, “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.” Jesus was addressing His disciples based on the fact that He was present but knew He wouldn’t always be. Look carefully though at what He said, “If you ask the Father for anything in My name.” When we pray, we can talk to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. When we want something, we ask our Father. Jesus asked the Father and the Holy Spirit only does the will of the Father. So in basic asking, we ask the Father, but in the name of Jesus.
What does it mean to ask in Jesus name. Well we say that right? “We pray these things in Jesus name!” Does this mean if we do not add the tag line “Jesus name” to our prayer they won’t be answered? If it seems a bit superficial it’s because it is. Asking in Jesus name is not using certain words but it represents the authority by which we have right to ask.
You see, we are sinners by nature. Sin separated us from God because He is holy. Separation from God means we do not have the right to ask for anything. My children can ask me for anything and I’d give it to them. Not so with the neighbors’ kids. I’d be good to them, but they don’t have the same rights. My children ask me confidently based on the authority of our relationship. We ask God based on the authority of relationship, based on the blood of Jesus. In John 14:13-14 Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
Some people get religious about it and think you have to use the actual word, Jesus. Did you know there’s nothing specifically special about that word? Jesus is the same word as Joshua, just different languages. If it was about the word, then you could end prayers with “in Joshua’s name.” I know that sounds funny but see religious minds are trained to be religious. I have heard of plenty of people in some cultures named Jesus (pronounced like Hey Zeus). That is the way the word sounds in that language though it means the same. The fact is, there were many people with that name in Jesus’ time. Like Peter, James (Jacob), or John. The mean doesn’t mean near as much as the authority behind it.
When questioning Jesus on what He was doing the Pharisees asked him, (Mark 11:28) “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” He didn’t say in Jesus name! Conversely, there are plenty of people that end their prayer with the phrase, “in Jesus name” yet their prayer has no power. Jesus authority was given to Him by the Father, and every demon knew this. Our authority when we go to God was given us by the Son and therefore we can have confidence in what we ask. This is true prayer, coming to God boldly because of Jesus and knowing He will answer because of Jesus. That’s what it means to ask in His name!
Now there are many forms of prayer, prayer for different purposes and it is good that we learn that. It is about development of our spiritual walk. A person who only goes to God to ask Him for things remains a kindergartner in faith. We should desire to have deep spiritual conversation with God, as I said He desires to communicate with us. I told you I’d get back to something and here it is. Once when I was seeking the answer for some things I really needed the answer to, I began going through the list of ministers I could ask. As I did, I heard the Lord say in my spirit, “Why don’t you ask Me!” Wow was I corrected! See God desires us to desire to talk with Him.
So basically, most things we direct to the Father in the authority of Jesus name. That is, most things we ask for. Now there is prayer to Jesus and the the Holy Spirit but that is a whole other subject all together. If you’re just beginning, keep it simple. If you want to go further then ask. There’s always further to go with God, it just depends on our desire to go.