View PDF/ Spanish / Czech / Portuguese
.:SHOULD WE PRAY DIRECTLY TO JESUS? —If we are encouraged to pray to Jesus, when should we pray to the Father?
We agree with you that prayer is a form of worship that belongs exclusively to Jehovah, the true God. Thus, when we see verses like Acts 7:59 where Stephen said: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,”1. we conclude that Scripture elevates Jesus to the level of Jehovah God because He not only receives prayer, but He is also worshipped along with the Father (see Revelation 5:11-14). Yet, Jehovah’s Witnesses often argue that this verse at Acts 7:59 does not support the idea of “prayer” because a few verses earlier, Stephen saw Jesus in a vision. They maintain that Stephen was merely talking to Jesus like he would any other being whom would appear to him (as the angel Gabriel that spoke to Daniel in a vision at Daniel 9:21-22).
Is this argument valid? We believe it is not because Stephen saw the vision of Jesus at verse 55-56 before the Jews ran him out of the city and stoned him (see verses 57-58). So, by the time we get to verse 59 where Stephen called out to Jesus, he was no longer seeing Him in a vision. Also, if you notice the footnote on the word “appeal” in verse 59 in the 1984 study edition of The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures with References, it says regarding Stephen’s calling out to Jesus: “Or, ‘invocation; prayer.’ ” This same footnote appears in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures published by the Watchtower Society. So, even the Bible publications of the Watchtower Society agree with our assessment about this verse providing an example of a “prayer” to Jesus.
However, even if you don’t want to accept this verse as a guide for a Christian’s response to Christ, take notice for this next verse because Jesus commands us to pray to Him:
The reason we quote the literal English text under the Kingdom Interlinear’s Greek text is because the translators of the Watchtower Bible removed the first “me” in “ask me” from their New World Translation. In removing the first “me,” we see a clear example of bias against the worship of Jesus in the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Notice that Jesus not only proclaims that we are to “ask” Him for an answer to our petition, but He is the one who responds to our prayers: “…this I shall do.” He does not say: “…this Jehovah shall do” or “…this the Father shall do.” The fact that Jesus answers our prayers demonstrates a direct parallel between the One who receives our prayers and the One who responds. Thus, we see that Jesus encourages His disciples to address their prayers directly to Him. 2.
The next Scripture we would like to bring to your attention is 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. It reads in the New World Translation:
Here Paul prayed to the “Lord” Jesus three times and Jesus answered his prayer by saying: “My... power is being make perfect in weakness.” Paul concluded by admitting that he would “rather boast ...that the power of the Christ may like a tent remain over me.” So, here again, we see an example of a Christian in the Bible praying to the Lord Jesus with Jesus responding to the prayer with His “underserved kindness” and “power.”
Consider these verses of Acts 4:10,12 and 22:16:
If we are to “call upon” Jehovah’s name in prayer for salvation, why do these verses say that we must call upon Jesus’ name and “not another name” for salvation? If Jehovah’s name must be invoked in prayer for salvation, why would Acts 4:12 say that there is “not another name” but the name of Jesus “by which we must get saved”? It is clear from these passages that the “calling upon” of Jesus’ name is a prerequisite for salvation and the washing away of our sins.
Romans 10:13 in the Jehovah’s Witness Bible reads: “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ ” If calling upon Jehovah means to pray to Jehovah, why doesn’t the act of calling upon Jesus’ name mean to pray directly to Jesus? Ponder what Jesus said at John 6:45:
If you have learned from Jehovah, you are commanded to “come to” Jesus. Have you come to Jesus by asking Him to wash away your sins and to give you eternal life? At John 10:27-30, Jesus promised:
How can you “listen to” Jesus voice if you don’t communicate with Him in prayer? How can you receive “everlasting life” if you don’t ask Jesus to give it to you? Jesus said at John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” How can you go “through” Jesus to get to the Father if you do not deal directly with Jesus by first going to Him in prayer for salvation?
How can you have “fellowship” with Jesus if you never talk to Him?
IF JESUS TAUGHT US TO PRAY TO THE FATHER, WHY SHOULD WE PRAY TO JESUS?
You raised a good point when you mentioned the Lord’s prayer and how Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father…” at Matthew 6:9. We must keep in mind that by the time Jesus taught His disciples this prayer, they were already clean and forgiven of their sins (John 13:10). But before we can approach the Father ourselves, we must first have our sins forgiven by Jesus Christ:
The Jews correctly understood that God is the only One who can forgive sins. Jesus as God the Son has the authority of God to forgive sins. This shocked the Jews because they constantly attempted to merit God’s forgiveness by presenting periodical animal sacrifices to the high priest of the Jewish temple system. Their human “high priest” would offer up sacrifices to God that would temporarily mediate between the people and God (Hebrews 10:11).
However, when Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins, He replaced the Jewish Old Covenant system and permanently fulfilled the New Covenant role (Hebrews 10:9-10, 12) as our only “High Priest” (Hebrews 4:14) and “Mediator” (1 Timothy 2:5). Thus, He is the only One qualified to forgive our sins and to reconcile us to God the Father (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). This is why we must first pray to Jesus by asking Him for forgiveness of our sins (John 6:45; 14:6) before we can call out to God the Father in prayer.
WHEN SHOULD WE PRAY TO THE FATHER?
Scripture teaches that once we have received forgiveness of sins by making Jesus the Lord and Savior of our lives (Romans 10:13), we are “adopted” out of Satan’s family (John 8:44) into God’s family (Galatians 4:5-7). While the Jews of the Old Covenant system approached God with formal titles such as “God,” “Lord,” or the personal name “YHWH” (Jehovah), Jesus gave His followers permission to use the intimate title of “Father” when petitioning God because we have a special position as “adopted” children of God. IN the same way that only a son or daughter in a human family is able to call his or her parents “mom” or “dad,” Jesus emphasized that as His followers, we have the special position with God that enables us also to approach Him as “Our Father.”
So, as adopted children of God, Jesus taught His disciples to pray the following sample prayer from Matthew 6:9-13: Take note of the four aspects of prayer that He modeled in this prayer:
WE CAN PRAY TO GOD THE FATHER AND THE SON INTERCHANGEABLY:
Since we are the children of God as seen in the model prayer of Jesus, we can approach the Father not only for the forgiveness of sins that we confess, but also for the strength to endure temptation. Yet, Scripture consistently proclaims that Jesus, as our “High Priest,” is able to be approached with these same requests just as Paul approached Jesus for strength and healing at 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. Since Jesus lived among us and experienced everything that we struggle with, He is most qualified to relate to our daily struggles and provide the grace and guidance that we need to overcome:
One of the reasons that we can present our prayer requests to the Father and the Son interchangeably is because the Father receives honor and worship by our honoring of the Son.
At Revelation 5:11-14, we read of an incident where Jesus receives “worship” along with the Father. If Jesus was created by the Father and is not the true God, why does the Father share His glory with Jesus and allow Him to receive “worship” alongside Himself?
At Revelation 22:1,3, the throne of God is said to belong to both the Father and the Son. If Jesus is a separate “god” who serves under the true God Jehovah, how can Jesus own the Father’s throne?
Whose “throne” is this—the throne of Jesus or Jehovah? Who is the “him” that the slaves will render service to — Jesus or Jehovah? Whose “slaves” will they be —the slaves of Jesus Christ or the slaves of Jehovah?
Whose “face” will these slaves see — Jesus or Jehovah?
Whose “name” will be on their foreheads —the name of Jesus or Jehovah?
From these Scriptural examples, we conclude that it is proper to pray to and worship the Son of God, not only because Jesus is the representation of God’s very being and possesses His glory and His throne of authority, but also because Jesus shares God’s nature as the second Person of the triune Jehovah Godhead.
FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:
1. Unless otherwise noted, all Scriptures are quoted from the New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
They are all there for me!
“I had Jehovah’s Witnesses visiting for six years. … The sad thing is now I have their beliefs in my head. So I put myself into God’s hands and asked for direction. …Well, the feeling of freedom is amazing. I am like a child, learning again for the first time. The reason I had to write to you was the Karen and Cindy conversations. Instead of me asking for help, one question at a time, they are all there for me!! It seems as if ‘Karen’ could read my mind.It’s so lovely for things to fall into place, mainly that ‘What happens when we die?’ This was a very big issue for me. I was scared while I did not understand even the tiny bit I do now. It’s such a joy. Instead of feeling unworthy(were all sinners I know) and feeling I would never be saved or go to Heaven. So, please thank God and Jesus with me for such help.”
I have to tell you how your website saved my life.
“I have been a baptized Witness since 1995, and I have to tell you how you have saved my life. Every couple of years I get this gnawing sense that this is not quite right, that I am not 100% vested in what the Watchtower Society says. …Lately, I have stopped attending meetings and my daughter, 13, has begged me not to make her go back. So I have been praying and chatting with friends outside the organization……I can’t tell you my sense of relief when I stumbled upon your site and started to read the articles. I want to cry, but I’m at work. I can’t wait to get home because I am so excited I can barely stand it! Please, please, how can I meet others who feel this way? I sure could use the fellowship. Again, thanks for the work you do.”
God bless you for the difference you are making.
“My brother and I were raised by a Jehovah's Witness mother. I am 52 years old now and still haven't been able to shake the stigma of the experience. My brother wasn't as lucky as me and ended up taking his own life at 17. I have been through everything ... I can't express how much I appreciate what you are doing... God bless for the difference you are making.”
I do not feel so alone!
“Thank you for creating this website. After reading stories of former Jehovah's Witnesses, I do not feel so alone. My resolve to stay out of that religion has also strengthened. I have also come to realize that my depression, anxiety, and many other emotional scars inflicted by the organization and those in the ‘truth’ will take time to heal. But your website has also come to help me ... Thank you.”
Just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website.
“Hi…I am an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness from South Africa. ...I left the Jehovah’s Witnesses not because I did not agree with their beliefs, but because my wife could not handle it with me being a Jehovah’s Witness and she not. I became an anti-religious person. Then, just as I was about to enter the Jehovah’s Witnesses again, God led me to your website… Today, I prayed to Jesus for salvation after I read your article on your website…”
I’m so glad that I have run across this site.
“After reading the article that David Reed wrote on your site, I’ve looked at things in ‘a new light’ so-to-speak. ...I’m so glad that I have run across this site. I’m sure that it was the Holy Spirit that directed me to all of you!”
Your website is a great source for truth
“Your website is a great source for those seriously seeking the truth.… The Jehovah’s Witness elders shun me. I’ve known these guys for 30 years... Well, when I walk into the Hall they turn their backs to me. I have not seen my Jehovah’s Witness ex-wife, or daughter for two years. ...They hide my family from me. When I go to their homes, they smile with arms folded and say nothing.
The stories I read at your website were loud and clear - conditional love by the ‘brothers’! I have learned more in the Christian Church about unconditional love than 30 years as a Witness. When I accepted Christ, who He really is, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see both sides clearly. ...Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to know the real TRUTH! Keep up your good work.”