“Is it proper to pray to Jesus Christ?” Ensign, June 1988, 59
In 3 Nephi 19, we read that some Nephites prayed to Jesus. Is it proper to pray to him?
Beth T. Spackman, seminary teacher, Midnapore, Alberta. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave specific instructions about whom we should pray to: “Our Father which art in heaven.” (See Matt. 6:5–13.) He gave similar instructions to the Nephites. (See 3 Ne. 13:5–13.) The Father’s name is hallowed. It is to him that we should pray, asking that his will be done. During his ministry, both in the Old World and in the New, Jesus, our exemplar, always prayed to the Father.
In the pattern of prayer given to the Nephites, the direction was to “pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus.” (See 3 Ne. 19:6–8; see also 3 Ne. 18:19, 21.) Jesus is our Mediator with the Father, and all we do in our attempts to approach the Father must be done in his name. (See 1 Tim. 2:5.)
In 3 Nephi 19:16–30, however, we read that, when Jesus was in their immediate presence, his disciples prayed directly to him. Perhaps the key to this unusual behavior is found in verse 22, where Jesus explains that “they pray unto me because I am with them.” (Italics added.) Jesus made this comment while praying to the Father for the welfare of his disciples.
Apparently, on that occasion, while he was in their presence, praying to him was acceptable. After he left them, however, the Nephites continued the pattern of praying to the Father in Jesus’ name, as we are directed to do also. (See 3 Ne. 20:30–31; 3 Ne. 27:2, 28–29.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie clearly explained what our relationship with each member of the Godhead should be, pointing out that some misguided members of the Church may “begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed” with him. This is wrong, said Elder McConkie. We should pray directly to the Father, and he will answer our prayers as he sees fit. Elder McConkie also pointed out that we should maintain an attitude of reverence for all the members of the Godhead. (See “Our Relationship with the Lord,” in Brigham Young University 1981–82 Fireside and Devotional Speeches, Provo: Brigham Young University, 1982, pp. 97–103.)
Likewise, we do not pray to the Holy Ghost, even though we may pray for specific gifts of the Holy Ghost—such as the gifts of tongues, comfort, knowledge, or remembrance. We should always pray to the Father. He is the Director, the Supreme Being, the Ultimate Power.
As we contemplate our relationship with Christ and our prayers to the Father, it may be helpful for us to think about our premortal life. The Father’s plan was presented for our sustaining vote. Lucifer wanted the power and glory for himself, but Christ, in his wisdom and humility, realized that the honor and glory should go to the Father. Thus, the Savior has consistently instructed, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven.” (Luke 11:2.)