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Usually, when people attempt to make a case for prayer to Jesus being disallowed, they make the point that Jesus followed the example of ancient Israelites who only prayed to Jehovah. They point out that Jesus always prayed to His Father, and never to Himself. It's true that the Israelites only prayed to Jehovah;

Psalm 5:1-2 Give ear to my words, O Jehovah; consider my groaning. 2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.

Psalm 118:28-29 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. 29 Oh give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Psalm 140:6 I say to Jehovah, You are my God; give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Jehovah!

And so they say that Jesus didn't come to change the established order apropos prayer, showing that this is the case by His example of always praying to the Father(e.g. Matthew 6:6, 9; 26:39, 42), and not to anyone else(including Himself); just as had been the case for the Israelites for centuries.

So, in short, their argument is this: Because the Israelites only prayed to Jehovah and never to Jesus(or anyone else), and Jesus Himself only prayed to Jehovah(the Father) and never to Himself(or anyone else), there is no reason to think that we should or can pray to anyone other than Jehovah(the Father).

All this, of course, rests on the presuppositions that the Father = Jehovah, and that Jesus ≠ Jehovah. So my questions are;

  • Is the Father ever referred to as Jehovah(or should I say Lord[κύριος/Kyrios], which can refer to both Jesus and Jehovah, since the word "Jehovah" never actually appears once in the NT) in the New Testament?

  • Do the Israelites ever call Jehovah "Father" in prayer(as Jesus called God "Father" in His prayer) in the Old Testament?

  • Is Jesus ever presented as synonymous with Jehovah in the New Testament?

Also, it might be significant to take note of John 17:11;

John 17:11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

If the Father gave Jesus His name, and Jesus' name is Jesus, wouldn't that suggest that the Father's name is Jesus and not Jehovah?

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  • About praying to Jesus: Did the Apostle Paul pray to Jesus in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9?
    – user38524
    Jan 31, 2022 at 20:53
  • This question assumes that Jehovah and Father are the same person. But 1 Corinthians 10:4, for example, quite explicitly state that it was the God of the Israelites (Jehovah) and Jesus that were the same person. Arguments to get around this this fact generally invoke the Trinity Doctrine, which isn't appropriate for this site. Jan 27, 2023 at 0:04

2 Answers 2

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The NT NEVER uses the name "Jehovah" (YHWH) of the OT because the OT was largely written in Hebrew and the NT is written in Greek. However, we have the following:

Prayers to Jesus

See Did the Apostle Paul pray to Jesus in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9?

... for a number of places where people in the NT prayed to Jesus.

God as Father

Jehovah God is spoken of as the “Father” of the Israelites throughout the OT, Deut 32:6; Ps 89:26, Isa 63:8-10, 16, 64:8, Mal 1:6. In the NT writers frequently refer to God as “the Father”, Gal 1:1, Eph 1:3, 5:20, 6:23, Phil 2:11, 1 Thess 1:1, 1 Cor 15:25, 2 Cor 1:3, 11:31, James 1:27, 1 Peter 1:2, 3, 2 Peter 1:17, 2 John 3, etc; or “My Father”, Matt 11:27, 12:50, 18:35, 20:23, 26:53, Luke 10:22, 15:58, John 5:17, 8:19, 54, 10:17, 18, 29, 14:21, 23, 15:18, etc. The Lord’s Prayer begins with “Our Father”, Matt 6:9, see also Gal 1:4, 1 Thess 3:11, 2 Thess 2:16, Titus 1:4, Col 1:3, Phil 1:2, 4:20, etc.

Here are some of the very few examples of God being addressed as "Father" in the OT:

  • Isa 63:16 - Yet You are our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us. You, O LORD, are our Father; our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.
  • Isa 64:8 - But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.

Jesus as Jehovah of the OT

Unique titles of Jehovah God from the Old Testament are often applied to Jesus in the New Testament.

Attribute Old Testament New Testament
God Deut 4:35, 6:4, 32:39, Isa 44:6, 45:5, 6 Matt 1:22, 23; John 1:1, 18, 20:28; Col 2:9, Rom 9:5, Heb 1:8, 9, Phil 2:5-8
“My Lord” Ps 35:23 (LXX: κύριός μου), Ps 110:1 John 20:13, 28, Luke 1:43, Phil 3:8; Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36, Luke 20:42; Acts 2:34
“I AM” Ex 3:13-15; Deut 32:39, Isa 41:4, 43:10, 13, 25, 45:19, 46:4, 48:12, 51:12, 52:6 (LXX) Matt 14:27, Mark 6:50, Mark 13:6, Luke 21:8, Mark 14:62, Luke 22:70, John 4:26, 6:20, 8:24, 28, 58, 13:9, 18:5-8
Creator Isa 44:24, 45:18 John 1:3, 10, Col 1:16, 17, Heb 1:2
Savior Isa 43:3, 11, 45:17, 21 Matt 1:21; Acts 4:12; 2 Tim 1:10; Tit 1:4, 2:13, 3:6; 2 Pet 1:1, 11
Glory Isa 42:8, 48:11 John 17:5, 24
Rock Isa 44:8; Deut 32:3,4,15; Ps 92:15 1 Cor 10:4; Matt 16:18
Shepherd Psalm 23:1; Eze 34:11ff John 10:11-16; Heb 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25, 5:4; Rev 7:17
Bridegroom Isa 49, 54, Jer 2, Hosea; Mark 2:19, Matt 9:15, Luke 5:34, 35
First & Last Isa 41:4, 44:6, 48:12 Rev 1:17, 18, 2:8, 22:13
Angels Job 4:18, Ps 91:11, 103:20 Matt 13:41, 24:31, Mark 13:27
Venerable Ex 20:3, 34:14; Deut 8:19; 2 Kings 17:35-38 Matt 2:11, 14:33, 28:9, 17; Luke 4:8; 24:52; John 9:38; Rev 5:6-12; Rom 10:9, Heb 1:5, 6, Phil 2:10 (Compare Matt 4:10; Acts 10:25, 26; Rev 19:10, 22:8, 9)
Light Ps 27:1, Micah 7:8 John 1:9, 8:12, 9:5, 1 John 1:5-7
Search hearts and minds Jer 11:20, 17:10, 1 Sam 16:7 Rev 2:23
Lord of Lords Deut 10:17, Ps 136:3, 26 Rev 17:14, 19:16
Lord of All Deut 10:17, Josh 3:11, 13 Acts 10:36, Rom 10:12, Col 1:15; Ps 97:5, Zech 4:14, 6:5, Mic 4:13
Seven Eyes of the LORD Zech 4:10 (& Zech 3:9) Rev 5:6 (Lamb)

OT Quotations

There are a number of places where OT passages about YHWH Jehovah are applied directly to Jesus in the NT such as:

  • Deut 32:43 (LXX) quoted by Heb 1:6
  • Ps 45:6, 7 quoted by Heb 1:8, 9
  • Ps 102:25 - 27 quoted by Heb 1:10 - 12.
  • Isa 45:23 quoted by Phil 2:10, 11
  • Isa 40:3 quoted by Matt 3:3 (cf v11)
  • Joel 2:32 quoted by Rom 10:13

Jesus as Father?

Finally, Jesus is called "Father" in Isa 9:6. This is not to suggest that Jesus and the Father are the same person, far from it. However, Jesus is "Father" in the sense of being the "Father" of the New Covenant in the NT.

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    "Jehovah God is spoken of as the “Father” of the Israelites throughout the OT" I should have clarified my second question. What I meant was, did the Israelites ever pray TO Jehovah calling Him Father(just as how Jesus prayed and called God Father). I didn't mean, "is God ever presented as a Father, or the Israelites as His children, or is Jehovah ever referred to as a Father." What I meant was, is Jehovah ever called "Father" by the Israelites in a prayer?
    – Rajesh
    Jan 31, 2022 at 21:34
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    OK - now I have added two instances of prayers to Jehovah as "Father". These are rare.
    – Dottard
    Jan 31, 2022 at 21:41
  • Thanks! One last thing. Is the Father ever referred to as Lord in the NT? Obviously never as Jehovah, as that name is not found in the NT. But how about Lord(κύριος), which can refer to both Jehovah and Jesus.
    – Rajesh
    Jan 31, 2022 at 21:53
  • @Rajesh - such references are listed above. "Lord God" is frequent in the NT. But that is another question you have not asked.
    – Dottard
    Jan 31, 2022 at 22:21
  • I don't want to know if God is ever called Lord. I want to know if the Father is ever called Lord. I believe in a duality, so "Lord God" would be referring to the Father and the Son. The Son(Jesus) is called Lord many times in the NT, but is the Father ever called Lord in the NT? e.g. "Our Lord and Father in the heavens", or something like that.
    – Rajesh
    Jan 31, 2022 at 22:24
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Did Jesus ever pray to God the Father, yes of course, many times (Jn 17 and in the garden just a couple of references). But this question seems more about an attempt to dispel "a case for prayer to Jesus being disallowed" based on the argument "that Jesus always prayed to His Father, and never to Himself."

To that question (e.g. praying to Jesus), the precedent for prayer and what it really was and about is relevant, but there are far more obvious and straightforward arguments:

  1. It's God who answers prayer (2 Cor 1:20, Jms 1:17). (Why then pray to anyone else?)
  2. When Jesus was asked about prayer, he directly taught that prayers were directed TO God the Father (Lk 11:1-4, Mt 6:6). (Why then attempt to posit a question that would contradict Jesus' own teaching?)
  3. Jesus told us his role in prayer - it was THROUGH him that we could even approach the Father. You can't get much clearer than what he says in Jn 16:23, "In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you." (Of course, this also points right back to #1; by whose authority does one pray to Jesus?)
  4. Paul's own prayers and instruction about prayer, over and over, is about praying TO God the Father (Ac 12:4-5, 16:25, Phi 1:4, Eph 3:14-15, Eph 5:18-21, 2 Ti 1:3, 1 Tim 1:12-14, 2:5-6, 1 Co 1:2, Ro 1:8-10, 2 Th 2:13-14, 2 Co 1:20, Col 1:3)

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