The mystery of the Trinity—how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all God, yet One God—sometimes causes Christians to wonder to whom to address their prayers.
Are we supposed to pray to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit?
There are examples in the Bible of prayers to each of the members of the Trinity. Though each member of the Triune God is distinct, they are One (thus the mystery). When we pray to one member of the Trinity, all three are involved.
Jesus taught us the Lord's Prayer, which begins "Our Father" (Matthew 6:9–13). Stephen cried out in prayer to Jesus as he died at the hands of the enemies of Christ (Acts 7:59). The Holy Spirit helps us to pray (Romans 8:26; Jude 1:20).
Some theologians put it this way: We pray to the Father, in the name of the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is similar to what we see in Ephesians 5:18–20: "… be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
So, should we address our prayers as "Dear Father" or "Jesus" or "Holy Spirit"? It doesn't matter, really. We can begin our prayer "God," "Abba," or any number of acknowledgements of the God of the Bible. Our prayer is ultimately addressed to our Triune God, whichever aspects of His character we choose to focus on in the way we address Him during our prayers.
What we should not do is pray to a mysterious, unknown god, or to a higher power of some sort, or to supposed saints, or to angels. Our prayers should be directed to none other than God alone. God is knowable and has expressed His desire to be known from the very beginning (Genesis 2). He has revealed Himself repeatedly to humans (Romans 1:18–19; Hebrews 1:1–3). Jesus came to earth so we could know and have a relationship with God (John 1:12; 3:16–18). God has provided the Bible so that we could know Him (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Prayer is our means of communication with a God who knows us, reveals Himself to us, and loves us. Prayer is, in many ways, a form of worship. Only God is worthy of our worship.
Hebrews 4:14–16 encourages, "Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
How does a person pray in Jesus' name?
Why pray? What is the purpose of prayer?
What types of prayer are mentioned in the Bible?
What is the Lord's Prayer? How is the Lord's Prayer a model for our prayers?
Is silent prayer biblical?
Truth about Prayer