You Can Pray to Christ!

8 March 2010 by Wes Bredenhof

One of the strangest teachings floating around some Reformed churches is the idea that we are not allowed to pray to the Lord Jesus, but only to the Father.  By that same token, hymns of praise to Christ are also out of the question.  The problem with this view is that we find examples in Scripture of the early church and the apostles praying to Christ.  I mentioned this in my sermon yesterday morning:

While he was being stoned to death, we hear Stephen praying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”  Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus and in the centuries to follow, thousands of martyrs would repeat his prayer. In 1 Corinthians 12, we read of how Paul prayed to the Lord Jesus and pleaded with him to remove the thorn in his flesh.  In 1 Corinthians 16:22, we read the brief prayer of Paul for the coming of the Lord Jesus, “Maranatha!  Come, O Lord!”  The apostle John echoes that prayer in Revelation 22:20, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”  If the apostles and early Christians prayed to the Lord Jesus and their example is in the Bible, certainly we also have that freedom.

This morning as I was preparing my notes on Volume 2 of Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, I noticed that he commented on this as well:  “…the Holy Spirit dwells in and among us, with the result that our prayers are directed more to the Father and to the Mediator than to him” (311).  Notice that Bavinck speaks of directing our prayers to the Mediator — and this is fine.  It’s also okay to pray (and sing) to the Holy Spirit, though it would not be our regular practice.  Wherever this thinking came from, it didn’t come from Bavinck.

For those who do think that it is sinful to pray to the Lord Jesus, I would want to ask:  which commandment is being broken?  Further, if it is sinful to pray to the Lord Jesus, then it is also sinful to sing to him — in which case the Canadian Reformed Churches (and other Reformed churches) are living in sin and should be called to repentance.

Finally, I am convinced that this line of thinking contributes to the depersonalization of the Saviour.  It robs our faith of vitality.  By saying that it is a sin to speak with him, we are in danger of making him into an abstract concept rather than recognizing him as a person and treating him as such.  Think about it:  what sense does it make to have a Mediator with whom you’re not even allowed to speak?