Why don’t we pray to the Holy Spirit?
Most of the examples of prayer in the Bible are addressed to God the Father. Jesus told His disciples that after He returned to heaven they should make their requests to God the Father in prayer “in my name” (Jn. 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-26). As the name of the Lord represents His character, to ask God for something in Jesus’ name does not mean to mention this in the prayer, but to pray in accordance with Christ’s will. In order to do this, we need to be in close fellowship with the Lord, knowing His desires.
A name in scripture represents the very essence of the person (Prov. 22:1). Doing something in someone else’s name means to act by their authority and in their stead (1 Sam. 25:9). In this case we pray on the basis of Christ’s death and resurrection, which gives us access to God the Father. It also means praying for things that are in agreement with God’s will (1 Jn. 5:14-15).
Prayer should be “in the Spirit”, which means to pray as guided by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20). Praying in the Spirit also means praying in accordance with God’s will as the Holy Spirit reveals it to us through Scripture (1 Jn. 5:14-15). In fact the Holy Spirit prays for us “in accordance with God’s will” (Rom. 8:26-27).
As the godhead comprises the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; what about prayer to the Son and the Spirit? Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59-60). This is consistent with the fact that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and mankind (1 Tim. 2:5). It is the clearest example in scripture of a prayer addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is no instance in scripture of a person praying to the Holy Spirit or mentioning the Holy Spirit in a prayer. This may be related to the fact that the Spirit prays and intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26-27). The Spirit also helps believers pray to God as their Father (Gal. 4:6). Also, we are to “pray in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20). This means to pray under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit who provides access to God the Father (Eph. 2:18). If the Holy Spirit guides our prayers and prays for us, there is no need to pray to the Spirit. On the other hand, there is no scriptural warning against prayer addressed to the Holy Spirit. And according to Erickson (2013): “it is appropriate to direct prayers of thanks and petition to each of the members of the Trinity, as well as to all of them collectively”.
So the biblical pattern is to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is no instance in scripture of a person praying to angels or to the saints in heaven. The Bible certainly doesn’t advocate prayer to those who are not members of the godhead.
Millard J. Erickson (2013) “Christian theology”. Third edition. Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI, USA. p.313.
Written, April 2004. Revised, March 2017