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LostInParadise's avatar

Do Christians ever pray to God the father or the Holy Spirit?

Asked by LostInParadise (17933 points ) November 30th, 2011

I find the idea of the Trinity to be very confusing. It seems to me that people pray to Jesus but never to God the father or the Holy Spirit. Why is that? If someone prays to God, does that mean the request can be fielded by any combination of the three?

One thing that occurred to me is that Jesus may be in charge of PR, with the other two working in the background. Jesus would be uniquely qualified for this position, having been part human and spending time on Earth.

Another possibility is that God the father retired, with Jesus taking over the family business. The Holy Spirit might be in charge of handling the power transition.

Does the Holy Spirit have a gender? I always see it being referred to as “it,” uncapitalized. If I were the Holy Spirit, I would register a complaint.

Before Jesus, was there a Binity between God the father and the Holy Spirit? Did they cooperate in creating the Universe, or was that just the work of God the father?

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25 Answers

dabbler's avatar

Those are very creative interpretations, and no less correct than most.

It can be very useful to consider the three parts of the Trinity as different aspects of the same fundamental entity. Just as you might be a piano player and can cook and are also a student of physics. Each of those might seem to be a different person if you meet them independently but it’s just good ole you doing different things.

Vedanta (Yoga philosophy, from which Christianity borrows a great deal) has three basic aspects of God: Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Brahma is roughly God the Father, all the potential there ever was or will be. Vishnu is the Christ avatar manifest from perfection into bodily form, and as a deity is the energy of all that exists (i.e. those aspects of all potentials that are actually manifest now). Siva, the Holy Spirit, keeps the ball rolling, creates each next moment by destroying the last one and opening the new one.

MrItty's avatar

Of course they do. Many prayers start out “Heavenly Father”, or “Almighty God”, etc.

And there’s one prayer in particular, the Nicene Creed, in which they pray to (or at least affirm their belief in) all three persons in God.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@LostInParadise It sounds like you would enjoy Mr. Deity.

Aster's avatar

All Mormon prayers begin with, “Heavenly Father, ”

marinelife's avatar

Most of the prayers go to God the father and not Jesus.

Judi's avatar

I have 2 ways to try and explain the trinity to you.
Think of an apple.
It has a core, skin and the “meat” part of an apple. It is one apple with different parts.
In my prayer life I might refer to God, heavenly father, Jesus, OR the Holy Spirit. I trust that they know my heart and my message is heard by the appropriate part of him.

LostInParadise's avatar

@Judi , Have you actually prayed directly to the Holy Spirit? You would be the first person I know of who had done that.

Let me see if I understand the lexicon. Father in Heaven is God the father. I can see that. Do all other references to God also point to God the Father?

Another possibility. Using the apple analogy, may be Jesus and God the Father are like the core and meat of the apple, and the Holy Spirit is like the skin keeping the other two parts together, like the binding force in the nucleus of an atom, keeping the protons and neutrons together.

Judi's avatar

One thing for sure is that the trinity is a mystery but yes, your analogy is another way to look at it.
One of my favorite prayer songs:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send fort your Spirit and we shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the Earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

It’s a very Catholic prayer but has become very meaningful to me.

digitalimpression's avatar

It makes no difference which name you use. It’s how you use it.

You seem to be looking at this as such: “Human is ultimately the most logical creature in the multiverse so if it doesn’t make sense to humans than it doesn’t make sense”. This falls perfectly in line with 1 Cor 2:14 . Either way we shouldn’t be too concerned about it because It lies outside the realm of natural reason or human logic .

I know it seems like a cop-out but imagine a dog trying to demystify the psyche of a human being. Now amplify that a few million times.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Water, Ice, Steam… different forms of the same element.

mazingerz88's avatar

I think another possibly relevant question to ask is whether God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have their own conciousness independent of one another?

smilingheart1's avatar

To God, in the Name of Jesus, through Holy Spirit.

Judi's avatar

@mazingerz88,
There is a great fiction book that is really popular right now called “The Shack” that addresses that question.

SuperMouse's avatar

@smilingheart1 would you mind giving a little detail on your response? I am not sure what you mean by “in the Name of Jesus” and “through Holy Spirit”. FYI, I am totally not trying to flame you or troll, growing up Catholic these things always confused me and I am still kind of sketchy on the whole thing.

mazingerz88's avatar

@Judi Yes, I may have seen it in a bestseller list. Thanks. : )

Kato's avatar

I think you question is a great one and humorously written!

In answer to your question, I do actually pray to all three.

Maybe this will clear it up a bit. people tend to think of them as them, or He or a group of he’s and an it.

Water is H2O and a liquid in form. What is ice, a solid in form? What is steam, a gas in form? Three forms, solid liquid and gas, but they are all H2O in element. They are the same in character. Inseparable when combined you cannot tell where one drop of water stops and the next begins but they can become separate, for separate circumstances.

So also, God is one and can come as God wishes in the form of a person or in the form of a ever presences, or in the form of an invisible creator.

The distinction of Jesus to God to the Holy Spirit, is rather a question of function.

Jesus is the tangible that we can wrap our heads around. He is God but also having been with us and one of use, our mediator. God, managing our universe is the administration and management (also called father). And the Holy spirit is the ever present witness and acting conscience if we let him. So when I pray, I may pray to Jesus to intervene on my behalf or to change me into a better person. To the holy spirit for wisdom and insight into a situation, or to God to manage something for me when it is beyond my capability or to love me when I feel insecure as a (good and loving) father would do.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Kato Thank you for the analogy. Not only is it beautiful, but it answers the question, at least in my mind.

LostInParadise's avatar

@Kato , I am not buying into the water analogy, but I very much like the rest of your answer. It tracks nicely with @Dabbler’s matchup between the Christian and Hindu versions of trinity.

sinscriven's avatar

The father, son, and holy spirit are all like avatars of God. They are all God, but they are not each other. The Shield of the Trinity is a diagram that expands on the relationship visually.

I’ve always seen it in a very Power Rangers kind of way, The Jesuszord, Spiritzord, and Fatherzord are all capable and independent beings of fighting the bad guys, but they are all comibined a part of the OMGzord.

smilingheart1's avatar

@SuperMouse, supposing that there was an old war baron who had run a pretty good fugitive life since the second world war. In his 90’s, he is rounded up and brought to justice. There he is: mean, aged and and ill but still with enough vinegar in him to want to last as long as he could. But as it turns out in the very country where this villain had logged his atrocities, a young vital great nephew has compassion on him and persuades the legal system that he will stand in and serve this senior’s sentence.

In spiritual terms, this is what Jesus did for all of us. The Bible speaks of “at just the right time” Jesus was incarnated into the earth and redeemed all of us who in God’s sight are like the old war baron. Jesus was the one who was intermediary between God and man. He stepped in, identified with us, took on our debt and paid it and at the same time declawed the legal rights of God’s enemy: Satan. There was much more going on than Jesus’ physical death – it was re-establishing right relationship on behalf of mankind, thus paving the way so that each of us could return to our Holy God as we come to understand this.

I said all that to explain my earlier response. God has an absolute vested interest in this planet and all of us who have lived, live now or ever will live on it. He is vitally interested in our daily lives and the management of the planet. Prayer is essential because left to our own devices, we don’t do very well because of our natural sinful nature.

Upon accepting that mankind needs redemption, and that this is something we cannot do for ourselves because salvation is a purely spiritual matter; it is noted in Genesis, that Jesus (the God-man) would come and bridge the spiritual gulf between God and man. When we pray, God looks at us through Jesus’ perfect restitution not our weak humanity. Therefore the Bible teaches us that we can confidently approach God through praying in the Name of Jesus by Holy Spirit, because of course talking out loud in a room expecting to be heard in heaven would be ridiculous if not for the vehicle of Holy Spirit. A key reference is John 3:16–17

SuperMouse's avatar

@smilingheart1 so does one have to pray by those rules to have God hear the prayer?

Do I understand correctly when I say it seems you are saying that to you prayer is asking Jesus to intercede with God on your behalf and asking the Holy Spirit to take that prayer to God?

I know the reference you mention “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” I was always taught to view that verse in terms of Jesus dying for man’s sins so we may all be forgiven. I never thought of it in terms of how to pray.

I have always been quite confused about the Holy Spirit and even when I was a devout Catholic had trouble understanding the concept. After years of fruitless contemplation of the idea I finally settled on believing that the Holy Spirit is God’s spiritual presence here on earth. If that is vague enough for you. I guess as a result of that I am wondering what you mean when you say “by the Holy Spirit”.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

My grandfather taught me a thing about prayer.
He said Pentecostals throw hands in the air.
The Catholics chant, repeating a line.
The Baptists roll holy, and hope for a sign.
The Lutherans bend knee and make not a sound.
Yet Methodists shout of the joy they have found.
But once Grand Dad fell in a well on his head.
And that’s the best prayer he ever said.

KaiyaLee's avatar

God the father at least that is what I do..I’m non denominational

smilingheart1's avatar

@SuperMouse, no of course there are no mandatory “rules” for God to hear your prayer. My earlier response: “To God, in the Name of Jesus, through Holy Spirit.” is the protocol for true spiritual warfare, batttles between light and dark forces in the heavenlies. This is God’s people interceding on behalf of their fellow human beings and declaring Christ’s authority over evil because of the victory of Christ at Calvary. God is all about love and freedom but the darkness is all about evil control. God is a gentleman but the darkness, as they say, once invited to dinner brings the pajamas as a matter of course. :(

Your question: “Do I understand correctly when I say it seems you are saying that to you prayer is asking Jesus to intercede with God on your behalf and asking the Holy Spirit to take that prayer to God?” .....yes, exactly.

“I know the reference you mention “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” I was always taught to view that verse in terms of Jesus dying for man’s sins so we may all be forgiven. I never thought of it in terms of how to pray.” —- Again, yes. I used that verse to amplify that Jesus death and resurrection is the pinnacle of Christian belief, the platform on whcih believers stand. Sorry I did not clarify that more exactingly.

“believing that the Holy Spirit is God’s spiritual presence here on earth” – Yes!

Jeruba's avatar

“Our Father, Which art in Heaven…”

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