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I know there are some Christians who believe that praying to Jesus is not allowed, and only praying to God(the Father) is allowed, such as certain Biblical Unitarian groups who teach that Jesus was only a man or that Jesus is a lesser god(i.e. Jehovah's Witnesses). I'm curious as to what they think of Revelation 5:8-10, where each of the 24 elders sang a song of praise directed to the Lamb(Jesus), talking to Him(emphasis mine).

Revelation 5:8-10 When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones. 9 They sang a new hymn: “Worthy are YOU to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for YOU were slain and with YOUR blood YOU purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. 10 YOU made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.” (NAB)

It's clear that the elders directly communicated to the Lamb via their song of praise. So my questions are;

  • Are Christians allowed to communicate to Jesus in the form of song, just as did the 24 elders?

  • Would following the example of the 24 elders by talking to Jesus by means of a song of praise constitute a prayer to Jesus?

  • If we are allowed to communicate to Jesus in the form of song, what is there to suggest that we are not allowed to communicate to Jesus in a regular manner, not in the form of song(i.e. a regular prayer)?

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    Who are they? You say you know they exist, so please edit this to clearly identify them, and ideally adding a quote from them showing this teaching.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 28 at 3:48
  • @curiousdannii Is that better?
    – Rajesh
    Feb 28 at 3:50
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    It's better, though direct quotes would be better still :)
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 28 at 4:16
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    According to this source, Biblical Unitarian do pray to Jesus, although, to your point, according to this source JWs don't. Feb 28 at 12:17
  • Thanks for those articles SRI. :-)
    – Rajesh
    Feb 28 at 12:52

3 Answers 3

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According to Christians who believe that we cannot pray to Jesus, are we allowed to communicate to Jesus via song?

Reason would seem to dictate that the answer would be no!

However many Christians sing and/or chant prayers, that are direct petitions to Jesus. These are not just simply songs of the praises of Jesus in honour of his miraculous works he preformed while on earth, they are actual prayer petitions.

Even In the 4th century, St. Augustine was inspired to state that “Singing is praying twice.” It’s an adaptation of a quotation usually attributed to St. Augustine, “One who sings prays twice.”

Historically speaking, Christians often petitioned Jesus in prayer through song in one form or another.

Here is just one example of an historical traditional use of public Catholic prayer which is often chanted as a devotional prayer: Litaniae Sanctissimi Nominis Iesu (Litany of the Most Holy Name of Jesus).

Iesu, Fili Dei vivi, R. miserere nobis.

Iesu, splendor Patris, R. miserere nobis.

Iesu, candor lucis aeternae, R. miserere nobis.

Per mysterium sanctae Incarnationis tuae, R. libera nos, Iesu.

Per nativitatem tuam, R. libera nos, Iesu.

Per agoniam et passionem tuam, R. libera nos, Iesu.

Iesu, audi nos. R. Iesu, exaudi nos.

Oremus; Domine Iesu Christe, qui dixisti: Petite et accipietis; quaerite et invenietis; pulsate et aperietur vobis; quaesumus, da nobis petentibus divinissimi tui amoris affectum, ut te toto corde, ore et opere diligamus et a tua numquam laude cessemus.

Sancti Nominis tui, Domine, timorem pariter et amorem fac nos habere perpetuum, quia numquam tua gubernatione destituis, quos in soliditate, tuae dilectionis instituis. Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

The complete litany, along with it’s English translation may be found here: Litaniae Sanctissimi Nominis Iesu. I deliberately quoted the the Latin text to help explain that the notion of prayer that is sung or chanted is traditional way of prayer that is several centuries old.

The Orthodox and Catholic Churches both chant the Kyrie eleison.

Kyrie, a transliteration of Greek Κύριε, vocative case of Κύριος (Kyrios), is a common name of an important prayer of Christian liturgy, also called the Kyrie eleison.

In the Bible

The prayer, "Kyrie, eleison," "Lord, have mercy" derives from a Biblical phrase. Greek ἐλέησόν με κύριε "have mercy on me, Lord" is the Septuagint translation of the phrase חָנֵּנִי יְהוָה found often in Psalms ( 6:2, 9:13, 31:9, 86:3, 123:3)

In the New Testament, the Greek phrase occurs three times in Matthew:

  • Matthew 15:22: the Canaanite woman cries out to Jesus, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David." (Ἐλέησόν με κύριε υἱὲ Δαβίδ)

  • Matthew 17:15: "Lord, have mercy on my son" (Κύριε ἐλέησόν μου τὸν υἱόν)

  • Matthew 20:30f, two unnamed blind men call out to Jesus, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David." (Ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς κύριε υἱὸς Δαβίδ)

In the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14) the despised tax collector who cries out "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner" is contrasted with the smug Pharisee who believes he has no need for forgiveness.

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Kyrie XI ("orbis factor")—a fairly ornamented setting of the Kyrie in Gregorian chant—from the Liber Usualis.

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24 inspirational quotes about classical music: St. Augustine

Are Christians allowed to communicate to Jesus in the form of song, just as did the 24 elders? Absolutely.

According to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewaido Church the twenty-four elder are Holy Angels (Seraphim).

The twenty-four Priests of heaven are a class of priestly angels positioned in the fifth rank of angelic hierarchy and perform priestly duties without rest. (Rev. 4:4, 10, 11)

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewaido Church has been built churches dedicated to them and celebrates their feast each year on Hidar 24 (December 3).

They are saints with God and they make intercession on behalf of the race of men, and they bring unto Him the prayers of the saints like incense in the censers in their hands. Alms and oblations cannot ascend to God except through them even as Saint John the evangelist says in the Vision of the Apocalypse, “I saw the place of Twenty Four elders round about Him, and they were sitting on twenty four thrones; and on their heads were twenty four crowns, and in their hands were twenty four censers containing sweet-smelling incense, which is the prayers of the saints who dwell upon earth, and which they make to rise up before God, the Sustainer of the Universe.”

And he also says, “And I heard Four Beasts praising and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord [God] of Hosts, the heavens and the earth are filled full of the holiness of Thy glory”. And straightway the twenty four priests of heaven fell down with their faces to the ground, and they took off their crowns, and they said unto Him, Glory, and honor, and thanks are fitting for Thee. And when a command went forth from God they fell down again with their faces to the ground, saying, Glory, and power, and judgment, and righteousness belong to our God” (Rev. 4:4).

And because the father of the Church have found statements about these Twenty Four Priests of heaven in the Holy Scriptures, and have seen stories told of them by the Apostles and in their Canon, saying that they are nigh unto God, they have ordered and ruled, saying, “The name of him that celebrates their commemoration shall be revealed upon earth. And they shall entreat God on his behalf to forgive him all his sins.” Therefore, Church fathers tell the people to honor the festival of the commemoration of the Twenty Four Priests of heaven.

Salutation to you, O priests of the Law. Their intercession be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen

The Commemoration of the Festival of the Twenty four Priests of heaven

The following may be of interest:

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  • Great job. Thanks for taking the time to write an answer. +1 :)
    – Rajesh
    Feb 28 at 20:17
  • That quotation, “One who sings prays twice,” is a lovely way of encapsulating in worship songs the element of prayer. Despite aspects of your answer being points I cannot agree with, that is a delightful point. I'm glad you shared it.
    – Anne
    Mar 1 at 13:40
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According to Christians who believe that we cannot pray to Jesus, are we allowed to communicate to Jesus via song? When you pray to God through Jesus, you are actually praying to Jesus because in Isaiah 9:6 it states that Jesus will be called Eternal Father!

John 14:5-14 (NIV): Jesus the Way to the Father 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

So, Jesus being our one mediator between man and God as stated in 1 Timothy 2:5,is none other than our Father who is God The Holy Spirit as in Isaiah 9:6. Which means it is Biblically impossible not to pray to Jesus!

As for using song as a form of communication with Jesus, one of my all time favourite Roman Catholic hymns is Sweet Heart of Jesus, and to me this is a delightful and very touching prayer to Jesus.

Here are the lyrics:

  1. Sweet heart of Jesus, fount of love and mercy, today we come, thy blessing to implore; O touch our hearts, so cold and so ungrateful, and make them, Lord, thine own for evermore.

Chorus: Sweet heart of Jesus, we implore, O make us love thee more and more.

  1. Sweet heart of Jesus, make us know and love thee, unfold to us the treasures of thy grace; that so our hearts, from things of earth uplifted, may long alone to gaze upon thy face.

  2. Sweet heart of Jesus, make us pure and gentle, and teach us how to do thy blessed will; to follow close the print of thy dear footsteps, and when we fall – sweet heart, oh, love us still.

  3. Sweet heart of Jesus, bless all hearts that love thee, and may thine own heart ever blessed be, bless us, dear Lord, and bless the friends we cherish, and keep us true to Mary and to thee.

To me personally, this is a wondeful prayer to Jesus that is sung.

Jesus is your Father, Saviour, Comforting Spirit, and Lover of your soul. He is your Lord and King, and you are expected to be in a personal relationship with Him, and you are to be seen going about the work He has given you to do as a good child in His house.

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    Would just like to point out that the belief that Jesus is the Father himself is also considered a heresy in classical theology: Patripassianism ;) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patripassianism Feb 28 at 14:58
  • It may be considered a heresy to some, but so is the Trinity when you read Isaiah 9:6. Jesus is our Father. Because Isaiah 9:6 says so, and Jesus's words confirm this in John 14:7-14. The Old Covenant and the New Covenant being the two witnesses that attest to this being truth!
    – Jason Alls
    Mar 8 at 22:12
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I don't maintain that Jesus is God, and thus would say that it is inaccurate to pray to Jesus as-if God Almighty. I would also point out that Jesus himself taught us to pray to the Father (Matthew 6:7-14).

However, Jesus is the mediator between God and men - and in the sense that he is God's perfect representative he maybe called God (as so many angels and even Moses have been addressed). Furthermore, it is not our words that are important in prayer - for the HS takes what is in our hearts and communicates to God for us.

Romans 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

To address some of your other questions:

Praise is not prayer. I would classify it as worship and (contrary to what many people will tell you) there is no prohibition against worshipping a man. Moses worshipped his father-in-law (Exodus 18:7). To worship = to bow down/prostrate yourself = to honor someone.

Translators like to play games - and here is a common one. Whenever the Hebrew word (Shachah) appears and is applied to God it is translated as "worship." When it is applied to a man, however, they instead translate it as "obeisance" or the like. This creates a false narrative that only God is to be worshipped.

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    "Praise is not prayer" I know that. But the 24 elders did not only praise Jesus; they also communicated to Him. If you and I were to say their words aloud, "Worthy are YOU to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for YOU were slain..." would we not be talking to Jesus? And if we're talking to Jesus, are we not praying to Him?
    – Rajesh
    Feb 28 at 9:12
  • @Rajesh those words sound like praise to me, not prayer. Generally prayer is a form of petition to God/a deity like figure. If we use a more broad definition that just includes any form of communication then I suppose you could say they are praying to him - however, you could not say they are praying to him as if God Almighty himself. Feb 28 at 9:22
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    "Generally prayer is a form of petition to God/a deity like figure" So, if I say, "thank you, Father, for this food", that is not a prayer? A "thanks" isn't a petition, and since it's not a petition, according to you it's also not a prayer. Merriam-Webster defines "prayer" as an address (such as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought. A petition is only one kind of prayer, but you can pray in many other different ways. Generally, prayer is "an act of communication by humans with the sacred or holy—God, the gods, the transcendent realm, or supernatural powers." (Britannica)
    – Rajesh
    Feb 28 at 9:28
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    "you could not say they are praying to him as if God Almighty himself" That was never the point of my question. I'm not trying to prove that, if we pray to Jesus, He must be God Almighty. I don't think it's necessary for Jesus to be God Almighty just so we can pray to Him. "broad definition that just includes any form of communication" Yes. Any form of communication directed towards God/a deity. I'm not praying to my dad when I say "good morning" to him in the morning, because my dad is not a deity. :-) Thanks for writing me an answer. Have a fantastic day! :)
    – Rajesh
    Feb 28 at 9:30
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    @Rajesh prayer as a petition is the primary definition :) But I agree that it can be used more broadly as well. Have a great day Feb 28 at 14:56

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