Why do some people pray to Jesus?

I will freely admit to a limited knowledge of biblical record. This is not intended to become any sort of debate, or theological discussion.

All I want to know is why some people pray to Jesus, instead of God. It is my understanding that Christianity maintains that Jesus is the Son of God (via the virgin Mary), he died for our sins, was resurrected, and ascended into heaven.

It is also my understanding that Jesus may have been a real person, a prophet perhaps, and was in fact treated this way.

Why then, would people pray to Jesus (the person, or God’s son) instead of God? This makes no sense to me, mostly because of my limited education in such matters.

Is Jesus considered to me a sort of demi-god, that has powers as well?

I hope this doesn’t get relegated to GD or, the Pit, because all I want are answers that are commonly held in major schools of thought regarding this issue. I don’t care to debate such a thing, as I obviously have no base to argue from.

A succinct answer to “Why do some people pray to Jesus instead of “God””, would be enough for me. The thread could then be closed if enough people were in agreement.

This is from a completely Catholic perspective

I don’t know if this applies to other Christian denominations as well (well, I know it doesn’t apply to most, since they don’t have saints). Catholics often pray to beings other than God, i.e. Jesus and saints. More saints than Jesus, I’d guess.

The thought behind it is that God’s really busy. Why should he listen to your prayer when he’s got millions of others competing for his attention. So you pray to someone not as busy, e.g. Mary, who actually has time to listen to you and can then say, “Hey God, listen to this dnooman fella. He’s a good guy, I’m rather fond of him. You oughta answer his prayer.”

And, as for the whole Jesus thing, Christians (except for Unitarians) believe that Jesus is God, so you’re really praying to the same person. Like when you pray to the Virgin of Guadalupe vs. Our Lady of Lourdes. It’s still Mary, just a different costume.

Many Christians believe in the Trinity or Godhead: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus would be God the Son.

Jesus is God, in the Catholic perspective. He is one of the three “personas” of God. God is “Three and One at the same time”. No it’s not logical, it doesn’t try to be.

The best understanding I can come up with for this particular Mistery is that God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost same as, say, my mother is Mom, Daughter, Sister, Friend… she’s always the same person, but different people know different facets.

“Praying to Jesus” is “praying to the facet of God that camped among us,” to the God who sweated and ate and got scared and made friends and watched sunsets and needed His diapers changed. To the God that understands us because He is one of us.

This is, therefore, erroneous, since Jesus is not “a being other than God”. The rest of RRFM’s explanations is given by some people as to why they pray to saints, though.

Because Christians worship Christ. It’s the fundamental aspect of the the religion, that’s why it’s called Christianity. :smack: Jesus clearly stated that he was the Way and that the only path to the father (ie, God) was thru him.

One reason I was always taught was because of Chapter 14 of the book of John:

In Christian theology, Jesus is God-- one of three expressions of the core nature of God: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. This is sometimes referred to as “the mystery of the Trinity” or “God; Three in One” or similar. You’ll sometimes see “One God; Three Persons.” The theology behind this is likely beyond the scope of what you are asking.

Christians pray to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit more or less indiscriminately, since theologically it’s all supplication to the same divine Source.

Generally speaking, it becomes a habit and nothing more to name a particular component of the Trinity. It’s my observation, without any proof, that praying to Jesus gives a more personal feeling to the prayer–an intimacy not felt with praying to God the Father. In Christian theology God the Father sent Jesus his incarnation to earth in part to better relate to humanity.

FWIW in some Christian traditions (Catholocism, e.g.) it’s not uncommon to also pray fairly directly to Mary, the mother of Jesus, and to iconic historical Christians such as saints. The notion here is that they function as intermediaries to carry those prayers to the throne of God.


                        -Father Horvak, "Million Dollar Baby"

St Patrick and the shamrock. Look at it one way, it’s three leaves. Look at it the other way, it’s one leaf. The Trinity is like that. Three separate human beings are not one being. The three Persons of the Trinity are - and yet distinct as well. The Nicene Creed expounds at some length as to what Jesus is: “the only begotten Son of God, begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, True God of True God, being of one substance with the Father; by Whom all things were made”. The Athanasian Creed belabours the subject in still greater depth.

Now you may believe (as many Dopers do) that this is so much horse pucky, but the point is that as far as Christian beliefs go, praying to Jesus is praying to God.

The short answer: Because they’re misguided.

The long[er] answer: In the bible record, God has delegated many things-- proseltyzing for example. But one thing God has always reserved for himself is prayer.

According to the bible, Adam condemned mankind to death through his actions; we inherited death and an estrangement from God, the same punishment Adam was warned he would receive if he rebelled.

But he did. Jesus, as the only other perfect man to walk the earth, came and gave up his perfect life as a “corresponding ransom”, or “propitiatory sacrifice” that lifted the ‘curse’ from Adam.

It’s because of this that Paul refers to Jesus–among other things–as a “mediator” between God and man, and says that Jesus’s action allows man to come to God in prayer with a clean conscience.

In what is commonly called “The Lord’s Prayer”, Jesus gives mankind and example of how to pray and shows that prayers are directed to God alone.
(Matt 6:9)

At any rate, the bible indicates that no where are we to pray to Jesus, but rather to pray to God, in Jesus’s name. IOW, we may pray directly to God, and end [appropriately] “in Jesus’s Christ name we pray.” This is because Jesus–through his sacrificial death—provided mankind a means to have a hope of life lost due to Adam’s sin. He can be called a “mediator” as Paul referred to him.

There is no biblical record anyhwere that allows for prayers to Mary, the saints or anyone else.

There is no biblical basis to Pray to Jesus, but rather the record indicates prayers are to be directed to God alone, through Jesus Christ our “Savior.” (as the one who “saves” us from Adamic sin)

Not necessarily. Jesus was alive on earth at time he gave the example of the Lord’s Prayer and had not yet fulfilled his obligation of sacrifice to wash mankind of it’s sins. Once he was crucified and arose from the grave and acsended into his heavenly kingdom God took on the aspect of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Sprit so technically praying to any of the three is praying to God. Confusing, yes. :smiley: Open to debate, you bet. :wink:

the raindog, can you explain the Jehovah’s Witness stance on the quote **Garfield **posted above? Different translation? Error of interpretation? Or is there no triune God in JW’s theory? 'Cause it seems pretty clear from that reading that praying to Jesus as God is okay.

Your question has already been pretty well answered. I just wanted to point out that, according to standard Christian theology (as stated in the Nicene Creed, for example, and based on, among other things, the beginning of the gospel of John), Jesus was the Son of God from the beginning—not just as of 4 B.C. or whenever it was that he was born or conceived. That was when he came to earth in human form, not when he came into existence.

Without contributing one iota to the religious aspect of this debate, I want to point out that the historical meaning of “to pray” was “to ask” or “to plead.” Using the archaic form, I can pray to my mom that she make me a chocolate cake for my birthday; I can pray that someone tell me the time.

As others have stated Catholic Christians believe in the mystery of the trinity. God in 3 persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit… each different aspects of the same God.

Not to be picky, but Catholics do not pray to Saints, nor do they pray to statues, crucifixes, or paintings.

Catholics will ask saints to intercede for them. Think of it as being similar to asking your dad to pray for you. It’s the same type of thing. In fact there are certain prayers that start out literally asking the saints to “pray for us”.

Catholics will also venerate statues and/or pictures of Mary. Again, this is not praying to the statue or picture, but more like using that physical object as a focus for prayer.

I’m sorry if this seems like a nitpick, but I hear people all the time equating Catholics to “heathens and idol worshipers” because they think they pray to “false gods” and statues, when it really is not the case.

Just to clarify some of the good points that you brought up. Catholics are Christens, there are no non-Christen Catholics. I have heard a few times (not here) from uneducated people that Catholics were not “real” Christens. They are.

Second, the concept of the Holy Trinity is not just a Catholic thing. All major Christen religions are in agreement on this point. I’m not a Catholic, but feel I that they sometimes get a bad rap because of all of the ritual, history and corruption that a 2000 year old religion drags along with it.

People pray to Jesus for Him to mediate on their behalf to God because Jesus never sinned but died on the cross for all of us that have. And so God, whom it is said is so holy that He can’t even look at sin, gives more weight to what Jesus asks of Him (although He absolutely does hear and considers what we ask directly of Him, especially if it is sincere).

And to be picky, Catholics do pray to saints, but do not worship them. As Subway Prophet points out, any person can pray to any other person, without there being any necessary theological implications. The Catholic view extends this to persons in Heaven (or in other words, saints). Typically, the prayers to the saints are for the purpose of asking the saints to pray to God on our behalf, since the saints cannot work miracles on their own. But a Catholic might also pray, for instance, to es dead grandfather (on the presumption that said grandfather is in Heaven, despite not having been officially canonized by the Church) asking him to simply remember the person (something which is within a saint’s own power).

I don’t want to hijack the thread, or have it moved over to GD, so I will answer succinctly.

You are correct, in JW doctrine there is no Triune God, and the Trinity is considered to be non-biblical. (and therefore not adhered to)

Later this week, or early next week, I was/am planning to start a thread on the Trinity, as I would like to discuss it in greater detail. (in GD)

My answer to the OP is essentially, that one potential answer (which merits investigation in another venue) is that people pray to Jesus because they are misguided. In other words, they pray to Jesus, but maybe they shouldn’t be.

At any rate, I look forward to discussing it.

Er, yes they do. I know Catholic teaching and practice very well, and praying to saints is common and encouraged.

And how can they do this without praying to them? Telephone? Email?

No, it isn’t. It is praying to the saint, and asking the saint to do something for you or on your behalf.

Yes. And these include prayers to saints.