Is PRAYER TO CHRIST SCRIPTURAL?
To answer this question aright we must understand what is meant by prayer and the circumstances under which it is offered.
The word prayer is defined as petition to heaven, entreaty, submissive importunity. In the sense of entreaty, etc., we find in scripture many prayers to Jesus, whom we receive as “Christ .” Thus , when Peter feared that he would be drowned, he exclaimed to Jesus “Lord, save me!” But we suppose that the question does not have regard to the scripturality of petitions to Jesus for temporal favours in the days of his sin-flesh, but rather to the propriety of offering petitions to him now that he is the Lord at the right hand of power.
After Jesus had himself been praying to the Father, one of his disciples said “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” From this it would appear , that under the new circumstances created by his presence in Israel, his followers did not know how to pray to God acceptably–they did not know what to pray for, nor how to address the Invisible One. Though perfectly true, he did not say, “I am God manifest in the flesh; therefore pray to me, and say Our God who art on earth hallowed be thy name.” The time is coming when the saying of the prophet shall, be fulfilled, “The God of the whole earth shall he be called;” still, though Jesus knew that he was the heir of this title, he did not teach his disciples to pray to him as such. He taught them to pray to the same invisible personage that he himself prayed to. If prayer were to be offered to him, he would have taught his disciples so to do. This, however, he did not; but said, “When ye pray, say, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” He was accustomed to address “HIM dwelling in the light, whom no man hath seen, nor can see, as his Father; so that by telling his disciples to do likewise, he taught them that he himself and they were all sons of God–children of one common Father. Is it scriptural to pray to the Elder Brother for the gifts the Father has in store? But as the First-born is well-beloved, is there not a fitness in securing his favour, that he may present and commend the petitions of his brethren to the gracious consideration of the Divine Majesty?
When Jesus first taught his disciples to pray, he instructed them to pray for the hallowing of the Father’s Name; but did not teach them to pray for things in that name. He is himself the Name of the Father . Now five days before the Passover of crucifixion, he said, “Father, glorify thy name!” This was answered by a voice from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again;” that is, it had been glorified in the past, and was about shortly to be again. Alluding to the time when it should be made glorious, he said, “In that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, HE will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask. and ye shall receive,” Here, then, is a precept to ask the Father in the name of Jesus, which is the reverse of praying to Christ in the name of the Father. Praying to the Father in the name of Jesus, however is equivalent in its results to praying directly to Jesus. This is apparent from the words of Jesus himself, who said to the disciples, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
The favours of the Father are granted through the Son; so that what comes from the Father comes also from the Son. Hence their intimate association in the epistles in the formula: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” These are distinct persons, for “there is one Lord one God and Father of all, who is above all: yet, in relation to things terrestrial, one in manifestation. In this text, Paul teaches that the one God and Father is above the one Lord; for He is “above all.” We should pray to him in the name of the Lord; and in so doing we “honour the Son even as we honour the Father.” This is the scriptural procedure.
The Mosaic Law is “the patterns of the things in the heavens-the form of the knowledge and the truth.” Hence the Aaronic high priesthood and its ordinances were typical, or representative, of the Melchisedec. Would it have been in conformity with scriptural propriety for Israel to have offered prayer to Aaron? No; the people in the courts without prayed to Him who dwelleth between the cherubim, while the high priest entered within the veil with blood and incense, and stood before the Ark of the Covenant in presence of the Shekinah. He returned with blessing, but it was blessing from the glory of Yahweh. Now the Lord Jesus is high priest over the house of God, which is composed of those who embrace and hold fast to the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope to the end. These are his priestly household, all of whom “call upon his name” on becoming members of it. Thus they are “in his name” and being in his name when they pray they pray in his name, and when they praise they praise in his name, and whatsoever they do religiously they do in his name to the glory of God the Father. When they pray they do not pray to their high priest, but they pray with him as their “advocate with the Father.” When they call upon his name, as Paul did in obedience to the exhortation of Ananias, who said to him, “Be baptised and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord,” the attention of the High Priest is fixed upon them. A union is then established between him and them, and he undertakes for them with the Father. His ears are open to their prayers, and he bears their names and petitions before his Father’s throne. This is according to the Mosaic representation. Thus the faithful go to the Father by him; for he is “the way, the truth and the life: and no man cometh to the Father but by him.”
All prayers, then ascending from the children of the covenant, ascend to the Father as sweet odours from Christ. He is the golden censer in which the incense is deposited. He the censer: the prayers of his brethren, and only theirs, the incense fuming around the priest after the Order of Melchisedec. The arrangement is very beautiful, both in type and antitype; but so much more so in the antitype, as the reality transcends its shadow. Jesus prayed to the Father, and was heard in the days of his flesh, for his circumspection or obedience, in all things. He needed not to approach the Father in any other name than his own. He prayed to God and instructs his people to do the same. They dwell in him, and he dwells in them by faith – Christ in them the hope of glory. As incarnations of Christ, they pray to Him whom Christ prayed to. This is scriptural, in type and substance-in form and precept. So let us be therewith content,
Brother John Thomas,
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, April 1855