In my research for our new DVD on the Trinity I am amazed that the teaching that God has a hierarchy of “roles” has some convinced that it is the Father alone who hears and answers prayer. This is Bruce Ware’s position in his book on the Trinity called “Father, Son, & Holy Spirit”. In email dialog with Dr. Ware, he has made it clear to me that he does not believe that it is a sin to pray to Jesus; however even though it is not a sin, these types of prayers do not go anywhere because Jesus does not have the role of hearing and answering prayer. On page 152-3 of his book he defines the only way to come to God in prayer. One must go to the Father alone in prayer and come through the authority of Jesus. Without coming to the Father alone and praying “in Jesus name, Amen”, at the end of our prayers, (signifying that we are coming in the authority of Jesus) our prayers will not go to God and our words will be empty, vain words.
I asked Dr. Ware to explain why he thought that it was the Father’s “role” alone to hear and answer prayer when Jesus himself said that we can ask him anything in his name and he will do it:
John 14:14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”
Indeed the Father is clearly glorified when we come to Jesus in prayer. Jesus also said:
John 14:13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
We also can see from scripture that Stephen prayed to Jesus when he was dying.
Acts 7:59 They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”
Bruce’s answer to these scriptures was that the disciples had a close relationship with Jesus so their relationship with him could carry on after Jesus’ death but we are not to pray to Jesus. Really? Is it true that only the disciples could have an intimate relationship with Jesus? 1 Corinthians 1:2 refutes that by telling us that all the saints in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ:
1 Corinthians 1:2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
I asked Dr. Ware how he has a relationship with Jesus if he never talks to him. I did not get an answer from him.
The hierarchical movement has gone so far as to push unbiblical “roles” on the Godhead so now Jesus has been pushed out of a relationship with us with the claims that only the Father has the “role” of hearing and answering prayer. This is the same thing that the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. They too believe that only the Father hears and answers prayers and we are not to have a relationship with Jesus.
With the unbiblical hierarchical “role” distinctions that Bruce Ware imposes on the Trinity, Jesus is no longer equal in prayer with the Father. Bruce Ware takes away our ability to have a relationship with both the Father and the Son. A relationship with Jesus after his death now becomes something that was reserved for only a select few. But this is not the case in scripture. Jesus said:
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.
The Father and the Son are equal in prayer and we are encouraged to have a relationship with them both. They come together and they work together and no amount of maneuvering with the text will take away our ability to have a relationship with the Son.