Regarding Prayer

♦  Is it wise to encourage the use of ‘Father’ instead of ‘Jehovah’ in our prayers?

On September 14, 2012, we received the following comment and inquiry:

“Your recent articles regarding the Good News booklet that was released at our summer conventions has really hit the mark.  When I first received the booklets at the assembly and opened to the introduction, my spirit sank knowing this is not the real Good News of The Kingdom.  Again, they were written for those who need “skim milk.”

I have only one personal observation in regard to the “Who is God” article.  It has to do with using the divine name.  Brothers, I encountered the reasons you offered before why there should be reluctance to using the Divine name personally. You suggested that it might even be disrespectful based on how children address their parents in our culture. For some time after I was first introduced to this line of reasoning, I thought I did not want in any way to be offensive to our Great God.  So for a time I only referred to him as father in my prayers.  I found that I felt totally alienated from my father as if I was talking to an entity referred to as God instead of my heavenly father.  I resumed using the Divine name in my prayers and after this I again felt that close attachment.  
Since your article, I have approached Jehovah in prayer and asked him to direct me so that I do not become offensive to him in my prayers and have not felt any indication that the father feels offended by my using his name.  In my humble opinion I think it not wise to suggest that one should not use the father's name in prayer since the scriptures do not clearly teach that one should not do so.  Other than this one point I feel your articles were wonderfully fulfilling. ”

To the author, we are so glad you are enjoying the new series.  And thank you for your observations about the ‘Divine Name.’  There are a few topics that we will cover in response to the Society’s “Good News From God” brochure that we anticipate will cause a little discomfort for some.  That was one of them.  So we are happy to provide a response.

You commented that when you called God ‘Father’ in the past, you felt alienated.  Perhaps that was because at that time, you were not convinced you were a son.  If you truly believed in your heart that you were merely a friend of God, then it is understandable that you would feel a bit awkward.  But now that ‘the spirit bears witness with your spirit’ that you are a son of God (Romans 8:16), we wonder if your spirit now cries out ‘Father’ rather than ‘Jehovah.’  If not now, as you draw closer to your Father, we believe it will.  Think about what happens when an older child is newly adopted into a family.  It may take a while before that child can comfortably call the parents ‘mother’ or ‘father.’  Well, welcome to your new family, brother!

Whatever the case, you must deal with your heavenly Father according to your own conscience and the way you view Him.  If you find using the name is better for you, then you should do so.  You should not violate your own conscience. As you grow spiritually, you will find that your conscience expands, contracts or otherwise changes responsive to that growth.  You will need to keep step with yourself.  At the same time, we hope you understand that others are more comfortable using the term ‘Father.’ We are among that group.

You wrote “I think it not wise to suggest that one should not use the father’s name in prayer since the scriptures do not clearly teach that one should not do so.”  Brother, the scriptures do not ‘clearly teach’ either way.  But we do have the example of Jesus who apparently did not call God by a name, either in his teachings or in his prayers.  He repeatedly referred to Him as ‘Father,’ as did all of the Christian Bible writers (though it is ‘assumed’ that they must have used the name when they quoted from Hebrew scriptures where the name appeared.)  We do not think it wise to overlook these facts when deciding how we will, individually, refer to God.

Finally, we encourage you to let go of the idea that you can offend the Father by using or not using the Hebrew name.  He is not so easily offended.  He accepts our worship based on the spirit behind it, not the words we use. 

“In like manner the spirit also joins in with help for our weakness; for the [problem of] what we should pray for as we need to we do not know, but the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered.  Yet he who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones.” – Romans 8:26-27

The error we suggest you avoid is ‘sinning against your own conscience’ in this regard.  It is your own personal decision, and we wholeheartedly support your God-given freewill right to so choose. If you have any further questions in this regard, please email us again.

♦    We worship the Father, but do we pray to Jesus or the Father?

On July 28, 2013, we received the following comment and inquiry:

“When you pray is it to our older brother Jesus or the Father? I understand that the Son can and does send the helper and that worship goes only to the Father.  I have read each of the articles but still I still find myself praying to Jehovah almost entirely?”

To the author, thank you for your email.  We know that others are likewise confused about this subject matter.  The problem is that many do not understand Deity, or more specifically, the unity of Deity.  It is our intention to write an article on that subject this year which we believe will provide a great deal of clarity.  However, whether one understands Deity or not, the answer is ultimately the same: We can pray directly to Jesus, or to the Father ‘in the name of Jesus.’  The important thing is that we recognize the authority of Christ Jesus when we pray.  Jesus said:  

“Also, whatever it is that you ask in my name, I will do this, in order that the Father may be glorified in connection with the Son. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.” – John 14:13-14

Of course, ‘the name of Jesus’ is not a talisman that we can recite by rote as if it has some magical power. It is the person who carries the name that has the power. Jesus’ authority is real and deserving of conscious respect and honor.  

“And, look! they were bringing him a paralyzed man lying on a bed. On seeing their faith Jesus said to the paralytic: ‘Take courage, child; your sins are forgiven.’ And, look! certain of the scribes said to themselves: ‘This fellow is blaspheming.’ And Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said: ‘Why are you thinking wicked things in your hearts? For instance, which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven, or to say, Get up and walk? However, in order for you to know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins—‘ then he said to the paralytic: ‘Get up, pick up your bed, and go to your home.’ And he got up and went off to his home.” – Matthew 9:2-7               

“For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every [other] name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

When we pray to Jesus, it is the Father who is glorified. There is no rivalry between the two. Jesus and the Father are one – wholly united in purpose.  Jesus said: “The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30) So we can in confidence leave our prayers at Jesus’ feet and know that they will be heard.

“I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word; in order that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, in order that the world may believe that you sent me forth.” – John 17:20-21

This is the Father’s will:

“While he was yet speaking, look! a bright cloud overshadowed them, and, look! a voice out of the cloud, saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved; listen to him.” – Matthew 17:5

We can also look to this scripture for some direction:

“In like manner the spirit also joins in with help for our weakness; for the [problem of] what we should pray for as we need to we do not know, but the spirit itself pleads for us with groanings unuttered. Yet he who searches the hearts knows what the meaning of the spirit is, because it is pleading in accord with God for holy ones.” – Romans 8:26-27

Here, we learn that sometimes we may pray without using words at all, yet our prayers will reach their proper destination. Consider this:

The Father is a God of order. (1 Corinthians 14:33) So there is a certain methodology to His ways. There is so much about heavenly operations that is unrevealed.  But we are certain that once they are revealed, many of those ideas will be logical and reasonable to the human mind. So let us speculate for a moment. We know there are radio and broadcast circuits through which we communicate with one another. We believe there are likewise spirit circuits through which divine communications travel and by which we are drawn to the Father. (John 6:44) We believe our prayers ‘made in accord with God’ travel such a circuit and reach their ultimate and appropriate destination. They are not lost in the ethers.

And finally, the Father remembers we are dust (Psalms 103:14) and He will not punish us for not fully understanding his ways. (1 Corinthians 2:16) Thus, there is no reason for alarm or great concern. The key is to pray with a whole soul and a pure heart (Matthew 22:37) and if you are confused, let the spirit plead on your behalf.  If you approach your prayers with these thoughts in mind, you will always gain the right listening ear.

Scroll to Top