Someone recently asked me to which blessed person of the Holy Trinity our prayers should be addressed, an especially timely question, with May 30’s being the Feast of the Holy Trinity.
As Holy Scripture teaches, the only true God is the triune God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons in one divine being, distinguished by the Father’s begetting the Son, the Son’s being begotten, and the Holy Spirit’s proceeding from the Father and/through the Son (confer the three persons but one name in Matthew 28:19) — and only to that Triune God should we pray.
We might think of prayer as speaking in words and thoughts primarily to God the Father, especially since the prayer Jesus gave us in order to show us how to pray is addressed to our Father (Matthew 6:9-13; compare Luke 11:4) and since both Jesus and the Holy Spirit themselves intercede for us with the Father (1 John 2:1 and Romans 8:26).
Yet, over time the Church also came to address its standard prayers, called “Collects,” either to the Son or to the Holy Spirit, but each Collect usually still named all three blessed persons of the Holy Trinity, especially in its termination.
Regardless of which blessed person is addressed (or whether all three blessed persons of the Holy Trinity are addressed as a whole), prayer is commanded and invited by God, who also promises to hear and answer believers in His own way and time, as He knows best.
Without even the best of modern communication technology’s connection problems, phone trees and voicemail, in prayer we thank and praise God for who He is and what He has done, especially sending His Son to die on the cross for our salvation from sin, and we ask for everything that tends to God’s glory and our neighbors’ and our own welfare, both spiritual and physical.
A hymn by Bartholomäus Crasselius, as translated essentially by Catherine Winkworth, sums up well our praying to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit: “And what Thy Spirit thus hath taught me / To seek from Thee must needs be such a prayer / As Thou wilt grant, through Him who bought me / And raised me up to be Thy child and heir. / In Jesus’ name I boldly seek Thy face / And take from Thee, my Father, grace for grace.” (The Lutheran Hymnal, 21:6.)
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.