I am looking for a Biblical basis for this practice. Can the answerers also state which denomination they are answering from?

Jesus himself taught to pray to "Our Father who is in Heaven". But I see many Christians basically using the word "Jesus" as the name of God. "I pray to you Jesus", "save me Jesus" and so forth.

My question is -- why do many Christians prefer to pray to the person of the Godhead who is Jesus? I do not find such a teaching in the Bible, and I wonder what purpose it accomplishes. Is this what Jesus meant when he said to ask "in his name"? It seems to me that the "in his name" might mean as if you are asking for something in someone else's name, or it could be some ancient expression from those times to mean to pray to the name "Jesus" in the Godhead. In any case, the real name was "Yeshua" wasn't it?

Lastly, is there anything that a person loses by always praying to God the Father?

  • Its a side-effect of the Athanasian Creed which declares the Son "coequal" to the Father despite Jesus saying "My Father is greater than I." My longer answer christianity.stackexchange.com/a/32554/10507 Sep 5, 2014 at 0:14
  • @davidbrainerd In spite of your personal objections to the Athenasian Creed that is actually not the reason prayers are so often addressed to Jesus. The real reason has to do with his explicit instructions about petitioning the father in his name and Scriptures which teach us things like him being the "one mediator between God and men".
    – Caleb
    Sep 5, 2014 at 8:00
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    @Caleb, I don't see how "pray in my name" = "pray to me". Its like me telling you to go to Home Depot and tell them David sent you, and instead you come to my house and say "Hi David, you sent me." Words means things; grammar is important. Sep 6, 2014 at 4:16
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    @Caleb, And John 16:23 is very specific that praying in Jesus' name is not praying to Jesus: "And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you." How could it be more specific? Sep 6, 2014 at 4:22
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    On a practical level, cover your bases by praying to "God" and not "Jesus" in that he is either the same entity or if he's not, you want to be praying to "God" anyway. Dec 10, 2015 at 19:05

5 Answers 5



One specific Biblical reference comes to mind in the martyrdom of Stephen.

When Stephen lifts up his eyes to Heaven, just before he dies he prays (cries out) Acts 7:59 "While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

But agreed, it is more the common practice of the Church through the ages (and the Biblical norm) to pray to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit.

(I come from a Presbyterian background (Westminster Confession of Faith)

  • Can the answerers also state which denomination they are answering from?
    – user13992
    Sep 18, 2014 at 20:22

As an earlier respondent noted, Stephen prayed to the Lord Jesus at the moment of his death. Other examples of prayers directed to Jesus include Peter, while attempting to walk on water, and the disciples on the boat when Jesus calmed the storm.

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. (Matt 14)

As we see here, it is a good idea to call out to Jesus when you are sinking.

And likewise, when the disciples were on the boat in the storm:

22 Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. 23 But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him! (Luke 8)

In Psalm 107, it is foretold how Jesus will miraculously calm the storm.

23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; 24These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. 25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. 26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. 27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. 28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. 29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. 30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. 31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Luke says that the disciples spoke to Jesus; the Psalmist, in this foretelling, says that "they cry unto the LORD in their trouble." Here, the entity calming the storm is the LORD. The original Hebrew has it written as the Tetragrammaton, the Sacred Name of G-d. The significance of this cannot be overlooked. As the disciples spoke to Jesus, they were, in a literal sense, crying out to Hashem. They were giving petitionary prayer to the highest authority in existence.

  • By the way, how do you show that Psalm 107 foretells Jesus calming the storm, and not, say, in the Jonah story, or just a psalm about something that happens often? Mar 31, 2015 at 9:45

Maranatha! Our Lord, come! [cf. 1 Cor 16:21-23 (RSVCE)].

Catholic Perspective

cf. Prayer to Jesus in Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Biblical basis are the biblical references in footnotes.

2665 The prayer of the Church, nourished by the Word of God and the celebration of the liturgy, teaches us to pray to the Lord Jesus. Even though her prayer is addressed above all to the Father, it includes in all the liturgical traditions forms of prayer addressed to Christ. Certain psalms, given their use in the Prayer of the Church, and the New Testament place on our lips and engrave in our hearts prayer to Christ in the form of invocations: Son of God, Word of God, Lord, Savior, Lamb of God, King, Beloved Son, Son of the Virgin, Good Shepherd, our Life, our Light, our Hope, our Resurrection, Friend of mankind. . . .

2666 But the one name that contains everything is the one that the Son of God received in his incarnation: JESUS. The divine name may not be spoken by human lips, but by assuming our humanity The Word of God hands it over to us and we can invoke it: "Jesus," "YHWH saves."1 The name "Jesus" contains all: God and man and the whole economy of creation and salvation. To pray "Jesus" is to invoke him and to call him within us. His name is the only one that contains the presence it signifies. Jesus is the Risen One, and whoever invokes the name of Jesus is welcoming the Son of God who loved him and who gave himself up for him.2

2667 This simple invocation of faith developed in the tradition of prayer under many forms in East and West. The most usual formulation, transmitted by the spiritual writers of the Sinai, Syria, and Mt. Athos, is the invocation, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners." It combines the Christological hymn of Philippians 2:6-11 with the cry of the publican and the blind men begging for light.3 By it the heart is opened to human wretchedness and the Savior's mercy.

2668 The invocation of the holy name of Jesus is the simplest way of praying always. When the holy name is repeated often by a humbly attentive heart, the prayer is not lost by heaping up empty phrases,4 but holds fast to the word and "brings forth fruit with patience."5 This prayer is possible "at all times" because it is not one occupation among others but the only occupation: that of loving God, which animates and transfigures every action in Christ Jesus.

2669 The prayer of the Church venerates and honors the Heart of Jesus just as it invokes his most holy name. It adores the incarnate Word and his Heart which, out of love for men, he allowed to be pierced by our sins. Christian prayer loves to follow the way of the cross in the Savior's steps. The stations from the Praetorium to Golgotha and the tomb trace the way of Jesus, who by his holy Cross has redeemed the world.

1. cf. Ex 3:14; 33:19-23; Mt 1:21.
2. Rom 10:13; Acts 2:21; 3:15-16; Gal 2:20.
3. cf. Mk 10:46-52; Lk 18:13.
4. cf. Mt 6:7.
5. cf. Lk 8:15.

Lastly, is there anything that a person loses by always praying to God the Father?

A. No! Prayer is primarily addressed to the Father and it is Jesus himself who taught us to pray the Our Father.

cf. CCC IN BRIEF 2680 Prayer is primarily addressed to the Father; it can also be directed toward Jesus, particularly by the invocation of his holy name: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us sinners."

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

Related is this answer to: How does the Bible teach us to direct our prayers?


From my perspective as a C&MA Protestant Evangelical, there is no question that Jesus deferred to His Father on many occasions. Doing the Father's will and accomplishing the task Jesus came to accomplish was uppermost in His mind.

"I do always those things which please the Father."

"My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish His work."

"'I have an immersion [baptism] to undergo -- how pressured I feel till it's over!' (Luke 12:50 CJB).

"Father, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not my will but yours be done."

I could multiply instances of Jesus' deference to the Father's will and word.

In Jesus' model prayer for His disciples, He taught us to begin prayer with these words:

"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (my emphasis).

Clearly, there is within the Godhead a transcendent and mysterious bond which is centered around relationship. The Triune God is not three Gods, but one ("Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one"), and yet there seems to me to be distinctive roles within the Godhead. These roles reflect a kind of synergism in which the differences in roles in no way diminish the deity of Father, Son, or Holy Spirit.

  • The Father loves the Son and has committed all things to Him

  • The Son loves the Father, and in deference and obedience to His will the Son came to earth to fulfill the Father's purpose

  • The Spirit delights in revealing Jesus to seeking and sincere souls, and in bringing Christ's words to hearts and minds

"Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required . Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:6-8 KJV).


"Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: 'Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.' Then I said, 'Behold, I have come-- In the volume of the book it is written of Me-- To do Your will, O God.' " 8 Previously saying, 'Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them' (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, 'Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.' He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:5-10 NKJV).

"'But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance , whatsoever I have said unto you'" (John 14:26 KJV).

"'But when the Comforter is come , whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me'" (John 15:26 KJV).

ALL THIS TO SAY: When we pray to God we are praying to all three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To insist that we address only the Father to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit borders on legalism. I cannot count how many times in my own prayer life when I've said to God,

Oh, Lord Jesus, thank you for dying for me. Thank you for taking my place in death at Calvary. Thank you, Jesus, for saving my soul.

On rarer occasions I will also address the Holy Spirit, who is after all the Spirit of Jesus, asking,

"Spirit of God, descend upon my heart,

Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move.

Stoop to my weakness, mighty as thou art,

And make me love thee as I ought to love."

Almost invariably, however, I begin my prayers with

"Father . . .."


"Heavenly Father . . .."

There are no hard and fast rules in the Bible as to whom we should address in prayer. True, the "Lord's Prayer" teaches us to address God as Father, but Jesus, in teaching His disciples that model prayer, was not giving them a template; rather, He was giving them a paradigm for prayer. Part and parcel with that rich paradigm is the notion that God is "Our Father" and not some far-off and distant God who is impressed by our multiplicity of words and empty phrases. Matthew 6:7 KJV tells us,

"'But when ye pray , use not vain repetitions , as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.'"

As believers in Christ we have the privilege of entering God's presence, through Christ, to

"draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16 NAS).

God expects us, I believe, to avail ourselves of His ever listening hear. There is a multiplicity of ways to address our great God, and if before Him our hearts are right, God can "translate" our prayers just fine.

Do we need to end every prayer with "In Jesus' name"? Need I answer that question? Selah.


Well, my answer is pretty simple. I have a father (biologically), and he is also a son, but if I want to get his attention, his name is Matthew. So, with that in mind, If you want to get the fathers attention, you must call him by his name, and that name is Jesus. (ACTS 4:12)-Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.(Phil- 2:10)**That at the name of **Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;, and one more of many supporting scriptures, John 10:30 I and my Father are one. All reference scriptures are from the KJV, and I am a believer and follower of the Apostolic doctrine. I hope along with the other answers given by many, that this too may help you understand, although you sound pretty knowledgable of the word already.....Enjoy searching the scriptures......

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