Do you pray to the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit?
It was one of those moments when I just wanted to hide.
I was at a family get-together, complete with the cousin who inspires the best sarcasm from me. In that moment, I found myself praying, “Holy Spirit, I need an extra dose of kindness and patience right now — and some additional self-control would be useful, too!”
But was I wrong to ask the Holy Spirit for that instead of asking my heavenly Father?
Communication is critical to any relationship. The way we communicate with God is through prayer. When we pray, we ask for forgiveness, help, and healing — all of which grows intimacy in our relationship.
At its core, prayer is worship. That’s why we’re to pray to God alone. Our prayers can’t be answered by someone without divine power. If we pray to anyone other than God, it’s idolatry (Exodus 20:2).
One God in Three Persons
In the Bible, there is one God who reveals Himself in three persons: God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So when we pray to God, who are we to pray to? Is it OK to pray specifically to Jesus or even to the Holy Spirit? Absolutely.
Is it OK to pray specifically to Jesus or even to the Holy Spirit? Absolutely.
The most common way to pray is to the Father through the Son at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We can approach God confidently because of our relationship with Jesus through salvation, but we’d never be inclined to pray in the first place without the Holy Spirit working in our heart. Ephesians 2:18 assures us that “through Him (Jesus) we have access in one Spirit to the Father.”
The Father, Son, and Spirit are not jealous of each other. In John 10:30, Jesus says He and the Father are one. When we pray to the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are there and are interceding for us (Romans 8:34 and Romans 8:26-27). When we pray to Jesus, the Father rejoices and the Holy Spirit listens in.
Wondering Which Person to Pray to?
Just like we sometimes choose which friend we confide in based on the nature of our problem, it is perfectly OK to speak directly to each person of the Trinity when it feels more natural to do so.
1. God the Father
Most prayer is directed to God the Father. Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father, and He prays to the Father throughout His time on Earth (John 16:23 and John 17:1-26).
When we are saved, God becomes our Father, too (John 1:12). We can bring any request before Him, and He will hear us (Philippians 4:6).
2. Jesus the Son
The most basic prayer of the human heart is “Save me!” As our Savior, Jesus hears this prayer and will always answer it. When people around us are saved, it’s only natural to praise Jesus for His work on the cross. Jesus removed our sin and presents us as righteous before God the Father (1 John 1:9). When we pray "in Jesus' name," we're praying with His authority.
Jesus is truly God and truly man. He came like a servant and took on human likeness (Philippians 2:7). As a result, it’s often easier to pray to Jesus when our feelings are tender or we’re feeling weak.
3. The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a person just like Jesus and the Father are. He guides us, comforts us, and helps us remember Jesus’ words (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit also gives us the ability to experience love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). If you need an extra dose of any of those qualities, by all means, ask Him directly.
We enjoy fellowship with every person of the Trinity when we pray. After all, there's nothing one person is involved with that the two aren't. So whether we pray to the Father, to the Son, or to the Holy Spirit, the critical thing is that we pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).