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I realize that some of Christianity believe God and Jesus to be one being, whereas some believe them to be separate and distinct beings. I come from the background of the latter group, which reasoning I am already familiar with.

According to Christianity which holds Jesus to be God incarnate, who does Jesus pray to while He is in the Garden of Gethsemane or at Calvary, or before raising Lazarus, and at other points in His mortal life? Is it God being in two places at once, being omnipresent? Or am I misunderstanding something else?

It's obvious that Jesus is praying to the Father, as He directly addresses "Father," but what I'm trying to understand is what this really means to the group of Christianity I've mentioned.

Bonus points if you could touch on where Jesus is praying to (or rather, where God/The Father is while Jesus is praying).

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"Is it God being in two places at once, being omnipresent?" - Yes, you got it exactly right. This was simply the continuation of the fellowship in God that has always been there before the creation of the world - the fellowship between the Father and the Son, both of which are the same and One God. Since by the time the Garden of Gethsemane episode, Son had already been incarnated, it looked as a prayer now - any human willing to have fellowship with God does it through a prayer. –  brilliant Jul 14 '13 at 6:50
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Somewhat similar question here, the answers of which might interest you –  Seek forgiveness Jul 15 '13 at 3:40
    
@jayyeshu I saw that as I posted this one, and it intrigued me. This question has given me much more detail! –  Matt Jul 15 '13 at 13:21
    
I have never heard an explanation for this that eliminated doubts about other theories. Perhaps God and Jesus are one the same way husband and wife are one. Not literally, but figuratively. I also have never heard anyone explain why it really matters if God and Jesus are the same being. Pray to God through Jesus. You respect both that way. –  Bubbles Aug 30 at 0:28

6 Answers 6

up vote 10 down vote accepted

There are countless works already done on Trinity. Inspired by all these existing works, here is how we may address the question to whom Jesus prays to.

Jesus never said "I am God" nor "I am the Father" but said "I and my Father are one". The New Testament always address Jesus as the Lord, the Christ, the Word of God and the Son of God.

One with Father? This word is the most confusing part. As we are only mortal flesh, we are not capable of understanding the unique nature of God. Jesus also many times found it difficult to explain about God and Heavenly things. It's like trying to explain how a computer works to the elderly people who are not familiar with it. Once I tried to explain how a computer works to my father, it was impossible and I gave up.

John 3:12 (NIV) I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?

It is not wrong to say that Jesus is God because Jesus equated himself with God (John 8:58). Jesus is the Word of God, who was with God from the beginning, was (also) God, who became flesh in order to die for our sins.

John 1:1-18 (NIV) -Excerpt

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Answer: Jesus was praying to God, the Father, who is one with Him, who is in Heaven even when Jesus the Son was on earth. Jesus never did His own will but the will of the Father. Jesus came from the Father in Heaven to earth to fulfill His mission, which was to die for our sins. After the mission assigned to Him was completed, Jesus went back to the Father and sits at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is now a mediator between God and man, interceding for us always and acts as a High priest for us by using His own blood as an offering to the Father.

Matthew 12:50 (NIV) For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

John 16:28 (NIV) I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

Mark 16:19 (NIV) After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.

1 Timothy 2:5 (NIV) For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,

Romans 8:34 (NIV) Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

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I think this answer is mostly consistent with the predominating Christian belief. But, you don't mention which elements of this answer apply to whom (e.g., "most/many Christians" or "Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, and many others") So, I'm hesitant to give an upvote. Also, you stated, "I prefer to add something of my own" but didn't clarify what part of this answer is "your own." ... If you remove whatever of this is "yours" and state who you think it applies to, I think this the answer. –  svidgen Jul 14 '13 at 18:11
    
My answer is inspired by predominant beliefs but this particular answer, as it is, is totally my own work. –  Mawia Jul 14 '13 at 18:26
    
Thanks Mawia. So it's obvious that Jesus was praying to God, as He addresses "Father" in His prayers, but what does that mean? From your answer, I am still not clear whether it is Himself or a different being. Also note the addendum to my original question which may help to clarify things: I'm also interested in knowing where Jesus was praying to, or where the being was, at that time, who Jesus was praying to. –  Matt Jul 15 '13 at 0:05
    
@Matt updated as required –  Mawia Jul 15 '13 at 2:32
    
Liked this nice answer –  Seek forgiveness Jul 15 '13 at 9:24

As Matt said in his OP:

"some of Christianity believe God and Jesus to be one being, whereas some believe them to be separate and distinct beings".

Yes, these are the prevailing opinions among χριστιανους (Christians, followers of a messianic Jesus; see, e.g., Matt. 1:16; Acts 11:26). But there are other followers of the teachings of a Jesus they see as non-messianic. They believe that "God" (YHVH/JeHoVaH) is not Jesus' "Father in heaven," but a separate and distinct spiritual entity referred to by Jesus in, inter alia, John 1:18; 5:37; 6:46; 14:7-11; 16:25-31. Accordingly, when Jesus prays, it isn't "God" (YHVH/JeHoVaH) Jesus prays to, but that spiritual entity Jesus referred to as "my Father".

Several volumes were written to explain their beliefs, but they're out of print since the passing of the author in the 1990's. I could go on at length, but I think I answered (in part?) Matt's question.

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Commenting requires 50 reputation points: christianity.stackexchange.com/help/privileges –  svidgen Jul 15 '13 at 1:24
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This is interesting, and I didn't know a lot of this before. Thanks, Pat, and welcome to the site. –  Matt Jul 15 '13 at 4:05
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Welcome. Wanna comment? Here goes 10 pt from my side. :-) –  Mawia Jul 15 '13 at 7:57
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Here's my 10pts. You may now comment :) –  OnesimusUnbound Jul 15 '13 at 9:53

Luk 22:42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Php 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

From the Word of Faith perspective we only pray to the Father others do it differently and we do not call them heretics nor do we actively burn people at the stake though we have been known to burn beef stakes. Jesus did not pray to Himself. Luke 22:42 shows a clear differentiation between Christ and the Father. He did not have a split personality or dissociative identity disorder nor was he a megalomaniac. He lived on this earth as a man as per Philippians 2:7. He prayed to the Father whom He was (and is) in unity with while he was anointed by the Holy Spirit. Christ needs no mediator. Our prayers are different we have a mediator to the Father, Christ Himself. We pray to the Father while we are filled with the Holy Spirit and while we are in Christ. The Father being in heaven according to Mat 6:9.

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Interesting points, caseyr547. –  konwayk Jul 14 '13 at 6:01
    
Thanks caseyr547; you've clarified a few important points. I have appended to my question a request for clarifying where Jesus was praying to. You do state clearly that Jesus prayed to the Father with whom He is unified, but now I'm uncertain as to where the Father was when Jesus is praying. –  Matt Jul 15 '13 at 0:00
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@Matt Mat 6:9 which i added to my answer says the Father was in heaven –  caseyr547 Jul 15 '13 at 2:27
    
@Matt: Jesus tells us where the Father is: "Our Father, which art in heaven..." –  Steve Jul 15 '13 at 13:26
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@Matt Hmm, I'd be interested in that group's answer as well! –  Steve Jul 15 '13 at 13:37

If I understand the question, it seems like it's getting at the nature of the Trinity -- that is, how does one person of the Trinity (the Son) relate to another person of the Trinity (the Father)?

The short answer to your question might be: Most contemporary Christian groups believe that the God of the Bible exists as a Trinity, so when Jesus prayed, one person of the Trinity addressed another person of the Trinity.

The extent to which that clarifies things is another question, and perhaps that's just the point: the Trinity is a thoroughly difficult concept, and theology that addresses trinitarian concepts can actually be rather confusing. It seems that efforts to come up with any sort of earthly analogy almost immediately bump into one historically defined heresy or another: tritheism, partialism, various forms of modalism, and so on. I think Affable Geek does an admirable job of explaining the "unexplainability" of the Trinity in this answer, and there's plenty of valuable content about the Trinity in a number of C.SE posts.

The most widely accepted description of the Trinity is found in the Athanasian Creed. It has a complicated history, comprehensively explained here, by vastly capable authors. (The same authors address the doctrine of the Trinity here, starting at page 18).

The Nicene Creed also provides some important info on the Trinity, including the idea that Jesus was "begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father." That particular section confronted Arianism, another heresy.

The text of both creeds can be found in the "Three Ecumenical Creeds" section of the Lutherans' Book of Concord.

As to the location of each person during Jesus' prayers: Jesus was on earth, and the Father was in heaven. Cf. Mt 6:9.

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Much of what follows comes from the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

The Trinity

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are 3 separate Persons (each have their own consciousness, will etc). They partake of one essence (that is what makes each Person to be God). The essence of God must never be confused with the 3 Persons Who are each God. The essence of God is not a person, otherwise we have 4 separate persons Who are God. That is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches one essence and 3 Persons.

Essence can be applied to anything. It is akin to a definition. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to define anything since we are so slow of understanding. For example, what is a chair? Does it have 3 legs and a round top? What about 4 legs and a square top? What about steel tubes that curve around...and so on and so on. I'm sure you get the picture.

So moving on from chairs, what is a rock? What is a tree? What is a human? Does a human need two arms? Does a human have to be >3 feet tall? Does a human have to have a certain IQ? You see in all these examples we are trying to understand what set of characteristics make up what we are trying to define. ie what is the essence of a chair (or a rock or a tree or a human). You will see that the essence of anything is extremely hard to define, even for a chair! Yet, the essence has to be complete in order for that thing/person to be really all that thing/person is. If you take away part of the definition (essence) then you have something else. eg take away the FULL definition of a chair (rock, tree etc) and you no longer have a chair, you have something else whatever that may be, but you no longer have a chair.

God

So apply this to God. What does it mean to be God? Well, in a very small way it means to be a Spirit Who is infinite and eternal in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. (obviously not a full definition). It is extremely hard to get a full definition of what it means to be God. But scouring the Bible leads us to at least a summary as just given.

Now the 3 Persons, Father, Son and Spirit each have ALL the characteristics just mentioned (infinite, eternal etc). And ONLY these 3 Persons have those characteristics. Nothing else at all has these characteristics, otherwise that thing would also be God. These characteristics comprise the essence of what it means to be God.

Summary

So if a person has ALL of these characteristics, then that person must be God.... Just as if any object has ALL the characteristics of a chair, then we say that thing MUST be a chair. It cannot be a tree, since it does not have all the characteristics of what it means to be a tree.

That is also why I can say without reservation that you and I are not God. We simply do not have any of those characteristics and we certainly don't have all of them. But the Father, Son and Spirit each have ALL of those characteristics summarised above. Thus the Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God. They are equal in power and glory.

For Further Reading

Calvin in the 1500's taught what the Bible has to say on the subject (see his Institutes, Book 1 Ch13 and you can go to any good Systematic Theology to find the same answer (eg Charles Hodge, Louis Berkhoff)...

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Thx for fixing Ryan –  user5197 Jul 25 '13 at 10:16

Jesus was God in heaven, then became a man with no God power(except that he was born with the sinless nature of God, unlike us which have to be born again to get that nature). And when he died, became God again. When he prays, he prays to God the father(one part of the trinity) . Keep in mind that all parts of the trinity are completely equal, father, son, holy ghost(spirit).

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Welcome to the site. We are glad you decided to participate. This post is more like a comment than an answer to the question. We prefer a good deal of support for all answers. That means quoting Scripture, theologians, confessions of faith, etc. Have a look around and I hope you might post again soon, but with a more complete answer. –  fredsbend the Grinch Jul 16 '13 at 22:18
    
got it. next time :D –  Dave Fes Jul 16 '13 at 23:15
    
What evidence do you have to support your claim that when Jesus became a man he had no divine power? –  curiousdannii Jun 2 at 3:29

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