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This question is for anyone who belongs to a denomination that supports praying to Jesus instead of praying to God the Father.
I was always puzzled by why the vast majority of Christians choose to pray to Jesus instead of God the Father. I have studied the New Testament, and it seems to me that Jesus' ministry taught about God our Father in Heaven, the Kingdom of God which is coming on Earth, and how to get there. Jesus taught that he was set apart from the beginning of the world, BY GOD, and he was the Messiah, king of the Jews, and through whom everyone is saved.
Jesus himself says to pray to the Father:
This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
So why don't Christians simply pray as Jesus taught? Jesus did say that if we pray "in his name" then we will be given what we pray for. But that's not the same as praying To Jesus. Matt 6:9, 1 Pet 1:17, Eph 3:14 all say to pray to the Father.
If Jesus happens to be God, then what is the advantage of praying to Jesus (an english translation of his name), anyway, and not the Father? That is the first part of the question.
And the second part is more serious. If Jesus isn't actually God, then it's idol worship to raise a doctrine of man (such as the ones enshrined by the first seven ecumenical councils) to the level of knowing who is God and who isn't. In order to pray to Jesus instead of God the Father, one has to be absolutely sure the humans living after Jesus got it right. Because this last part involves a possible severe violation of the second commandment, I want to clearly illustrate why I don't think we have reached that standard. (I am not saying there isn't evidence that one can use to support a theory, but that there isn't 100% proof, and therefore it's dangerous.)
In your answers, if you support praying to Jesus as non-risky, you'll have to show that we can be sure 100% that Jesus is God. In order to do that, please address the following points, either individually (which is preferred) or make some argument as to why all these problems can be ignored and we are sure that Jesus would have wanted us to pray to him instead of the Father:
1) It is true that many statements were made about Jesus during his lifetime, some by Jesus himself, but none of them said that he was God, even if they did give him incredible attributes. Jesus himself never seems to have taught that he was God. That seems to have only been claimed by people after his death. For example, the trial was about his blasphemy, but he never agreed he was God, but only that he was the Messiah. In fact, in the prophecies about Messiah, he was supposed to be a man, not God himself. It was the Jews, like the Christians today, that seem to be extrapolating his claims too far.
2) In John 10:33 when they picked up stones to stone him, and he asked "for which of my good works do you stone me" and they said "'We are not stoning you for any good work,' they replied, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'" Jesus did not clearly confirm that he claims to be God. On the contrary he invoked an example where mere people were called "gods" and then said he was greater than those people. Since he could have easily affirmed his claim right there, but didn't, I don't think that is proof of his being God either. If anything it can equally be proof that he did not wish to be considered God and was explaining his position.
Having read the Gospels I see many verses of Jesus saying things that imply that he is not God, but the Son sent into the world and given authority. To be 100% sure that Jesus is God, this has to be addressed.
3) In the garden of Gethsemene, Jesus prayed
nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.
Shouldn't God have the same will as Himself? To be 100% sure that Jesus is God, this has to be addressed. To be 100% sure that Jesus is God, this has to be addressed.
4) In fact in John 14:31 Jesus makes a distinction between himself and the Father:
"I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me"
5) In John 14:28, Jesus explicitly says that the Father is greater than he is
You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.
6) In Matthew 24:36, Jesus mentions himself as not knowing something the Father knows:
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
7) In Mark 10:18, he rebukes people for calling him good and then says only God is good:
"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone."
8) John 5:30 NIV Jesus explicitly admits that all his power comes from God and not himself:
By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.
9) 1 Timothy 2:5 says
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.
10) Even John's teaching about The Logos, often used to prove Jesus is God, doesn't unambiguously say that. At most, it shows that the Logos is an attribute of God, such as His personified Wisdom, as a reference to creation in Genesis 1
I will attempt myself to briefly answer the above to show what I'm looking for as an answer, but to be honest I am not 100% convinced that Jesus is God. And therefore I find it risky to pray to Jesus, and I wonder why Christians are ok with it, and what advantage they have in the first place.