Jesus unequal in prayer?

Jesus unequal in prayer?

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.

14 thoughts on “Jesus unequal in prayer?

  1. One thing that’s frequently overlooked is the instances where the Greek word is “theos” and not “pater”. If we pay careful attention to the difference (typically translated “God” and “the Father”), we can see that it isn’t always the Father when we think it is, but God, the entire Trinity.

    Another point is, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity (Gk. theh-ot’-ace) lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). Notice the present tense: it says “lives”, not “lived”. Jesus is the embodiment of the Trinity, yet also still retains his individual personage, as also do the Father and Spirit. It’s difficult to grasp, but we cannot deny that this is what scripture teaches.

  2. Good grief Cheryl and teknomom! How do these guys come up with
    this stuff??? It’s almost as if they’re repeating the abuses of the Papal hierarchy, and yet still wanna claim to be the paragons of protestantism??? Oh well, like they say these days, go figure!

  3. I think it’s the old “tail wagging the dog” thing. They start with a pet (ha ha) invented doctrine and “reverse engineer” from there. They start with male supremacism and keep inventing things just to cover their core belief, and it leads to ridiculous extremes like this.

    I’ve noticed many such similarities between RCC and Reformed theology. They both go back to Augustine, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. They claim to be so very different but simply traded one set of rulers for another. Both systems ultimately end in pride of some men over other men, and all men over all women.

    People do desperate things when they feel threatened.

  4. hello Cheryl,

    Greg and Teknomom i agree with yr comments…

    i am busy juggling feeding my new little baby girl – now a month old! so i haven’t been on yr blog too much lately…now i finally logged on, reading this just makes me sad more than anything. our Christian faith is about relationship with God (Jesus, Father and Spirit). i think yr point cheryl about ‘how can we have relationship with Jesus if we don’t ‘talk’ with him?’ is key. what after all is prayer? do our prayers seriously only get heard and answered if we follow a special formula of ‘magic’ words? sounds like pharisaical religious nonsense to me. (or perhaps more like a pagan ritualistic chant?) my older kids (3 anf 5 yrs) pray so amazingly heart felt prayers to God – if they forget to utter ‘in Jesus name’ at the end, does Dr Ware seriously claim that our loving God will say “sorry… can’t listen to you?’

    what does ‘praying in Jesus’ name’ mean? certainly not a ‘verbal tag’ on the end of any prayer to close a ‘done deal’ in my opinion. i believe it’s more about knowing Christ (thru relationship- which surely must include ‘conversation’?) and praying according to His heart/ will…
    why do some folk insist on ‘dividing’ the Indivisible? sadly it seems to serve their desire/agenda to ‘divide’ His Body too?

    this is important stuff cheryl – thanks for tackling the issue…

  5. Hello Brothers and Sisters,

    I find Dr. Ware’s position problematic. The apostle John states in his First Epistle:

    “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Le t that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father And this promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” (2: 23-5)

    As believers we are taken into the Triune fellowship. We pray in the Spirit to the Father in the name of Christ. God the Father and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one. They are distinct in their hypostases but always one in essence. The Father is Creator, the Son is Creator, the Spirit is Creator. How the triune God creates (Father speaks the Word by which all things made are made in the power of the Spirit).

    It is rather unfortunate that modern evangelical theologians have adopted the term ‘roles’ to describe the mysterious nature of God. The ancient theologians used the term ‘rank’, yet they affirmed the oneness, and authority, and majesty. the Persons of the Trinity do not have a one attribute ascribe to Him that the others do not possess. The Father begets, the Son is eternally begotten, and the Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son (western church). The Holy Trinity is worthy are our worship our obedience, and our prayers.

  6. Teknomom, Greg, Kerryn, Jason and Under Much Grace, thank you for the encouragement and the thoughts. This is a very important subject and I will be doing much more work on this subject in the New Year.

  7. IMO, God is so far beyond our understanding, that God uses metaphors and analogies so we might have any understanding at all. God is like quantum theory, if you think you understand all of it, you don’t. I think J.B. Phillips wrote a book, “Your God is too Small” which I found very useful in not putting God in a box.

  8. Don,
    I agree. In fact I have used the same saying with former Jehovah’s Witnesses who are struggling to understand who Jesus is. I tell them that when their God is big enough, they won’t have any problems in understanding who Jesus is.

  9. #5 Jason,

    I concur that there is complete unity in the Trinity. This is why I find Bruce Ware’s position so difficult to fathom why he insists that Jesus is not to be talked to in prayer. Our relationship is with God himself in Trinity and to take away our relationship with Jesus because while he was here on earth living as a man, Jesus taught the disciples to address the Father, in no way excludes our Lord Jesus as an object of worship through our prayers. I believe that our DVD project on the Trinity will be an eye-opener to many who have been sincerely confused on this very important topic.

  10. Not to be talked to huh? Then who am I sposeta’ talk to? Is it all by formula and someone’s spin on what constitutes orthodoxy? All I know for certain is that Jesus bled and died for me and that when he did, the curtain separating me from himself was torn from top to bottom. With all due respect to Dr. Ware and his hard earned credentials, he didn’t bleed and die for me, but the one who did bleed and die for me will in no wise cast me out when I call upon him.

  11. In re-reading this thread, I just thought of the phrase that I’ve heard so many times in my life: “Give your heart to Jesus.”

    It just occured to me that I would hope this is still what a Christian is supposed to do, but consider how one does this, even the first time at the altar in one’s heart, when one first surrenders to the Lord. You can’t pray to the Person to whom you surrender? Give your heart to Jesus, but do so by submitting your request with the Father. In a talk that I’m preparing on patriarchy, based on some other writings, I state that the patriarch uses Jesus as a catalyst to work back to Adam before the fall. In this model that Ware presents, I can see also that Jesus becomes a mere catalyst to give man the “authority” to go to the Father. This is man centered worship of God and not Christ centered.

  12. Under Much Grace,

    You have nailed it on the head. Dr. Ware has made it very clear that we are to go to the Father in Jesus’ authority. This could be like going to the head of the company bringing a letter authorizing us to be there. Yet in reality, Jesus’ authority comes with his presence and his person. We come to God through the very person of Jesus. When we give glory to Jesus, we are giving glory to the Father. There is no competition here and the Father insists that we honor the Son even as we honor the Father. When we pray to Jesus we are also glorifying the Father. God is united and the Father is not insisting that we only pray to one member of the Trinity as if it was only one member of the Trinity whose job it is to answer. Jesus also told us that he answers prayers and I would rather believe Jesus.

    It seems to me what they are trying to do is segregate the Trinity in a similar fashion as they segregate the body of Christ. They make spiritual “roles” that belong only to one gender and exclude the other gender. They also devise spiritual “roles” that belong to the Father alone and which also exclude the Son’s participation. This is just not biblical.

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