The Question of Christ’s Prayers

Some people ask: Since God is one, why did Jesus have to pray to the Father? Behind this question lies the suggestion that the oneness of God does not allow Jesus (who was God) to pray to the Father. God is one. So, to whom was Jesus praying? This picture misses four vital points, which need to be made clear if the question is to receive a satisfactory answer.

The first point is that the statement "The Logos was God" does not assert that God was the Logos. The word "God," in the expression "and the Word was God" (John 1:1), is not used as a proper name. The phrase means that the Logos was divine – that the Logos had the same nature as God – one being, one nature. It is a mistake to think that the expression "The Logos was God" means that the Logos alone was God. From that standpoint, this expression does not preclude Christ’s praying to the Father. In other terms, there is a Christ, and there is a Father, and there is no inconsistency in Christ’s offering a prayer to the Father.

The second point that needs to be clarified is that the Logos became flesh (John 1:14). This statement says that the Logos of God became a human being – a finite man, with all the qualities and limitations of human beings. He had all the needs that come with human nature. He needed food in order to remain alive, he had spiritual and emotional needs, including the need to be in communion with God through prayer. This need will become even clearer below.

The third point that needs to be clarified is his sinlessness. Prayer is not just for sinners; even a sinless being can and should praise God and seek his help. A human, a finite being, needs to pray to God, needs to have communion with God. Jesus Christ, a human being, needed to pray to the Infinite God.

Fourth, there is an assumption that the need to pray is proof that the praying person is not more than human. That assumption has crept into many people’s thinking from a distorted perception of prayer – from the notion that human imperfection is the only basis of prayer. That notion is not taken from the Bible or from anything God has revealed. Adam would have needed to pray even if he had not sinned. His sinlessness would not make prayer unnecessary. Christ prayed even though he was perfect.

With the above clarifications in place, the question can be answered. Christ was God, but he was not the Father (or the Holy Spirit); he could pray to the Father. Christ was also a man – a finite human being; he needed to talk with the Father. Christ was also the new Adam – an example of the perfect man that Adam should have been; he was in constant communion with God. Christ was more than human – and prayer does not change his status; he prayed as the Son of God who had become human. The notion that prayer is improper or unnecessary for someone who is more than human is not derived from God’s revelation.

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