Tim Keller on Prayer Directly to Jesus

29 December 2014 by Wes Bredenhof

Tim Keller
Tim Keller

Regular readers of this blog know that I am not a Tim Keller “fanboy.”  He has his devotees — those for whom the man can say and do no wrong.  I have been critical about Keller’s approach to apologetics and his views on creation, especially his openness to theistic evolution.  However, I recognize that Keller is helpful in some areas.  I recently started reading his book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.  I’m about half-way through and, so far, I am impressed.  As an example, in chapter 9, he deals with the question:  “Are we to pray only to the Father and not to the Son or to the Spirit?”  Here’s his answer:

Jesus invites his disciples to pray to him (John 14:13-14, Matt. 11:28).  Nevertheless, Jesus also taught his disciples to pray to our Father, and while we are not bound to the exact words of the Lord’s Prayer, that initial direction must be taken seriously.  Only three times after Jesus’ ascension — in the rest of the New Testament — is prayer addressed directly to Jesus.  In the vast majority of cases, prayer is addressed to the Father.  While it is not at all improper to address the Son or the Spirit, ordinarily prayer will be addressed to the Father with gratitude to the Son and dependence on the Spirit.  Packer uses an interesting rule of thumb.  “I pray to the Father through the mediation of the Son and the enabling of the Holy Spirit.  I may speak also to the Son and the Spirit directly when this is appropriate: that is, when I am praying about something that Scripture specified as the direct concern of either.” (125-126)

In other words, our normal practice will be to pray to God as Father, but we have the freedom to address each of the persons of the Trinity as well.  To forbid such a thing goes beyond what Scripture teaches.  I fully agree — you can read more here.