May We Pray To Jesus: The Biblical Perspective (A Review, Part 1)

Having already examined the quote by brother Wendell Winkler, the final comments, and the view concerning Stephen’s “last prayer,” the goal is now to comment on one of the larger articles from the August Christian Courier special issue. Before doing so, however, it might be interesting to note that those who produced this 32-page booklet seem fairly happy with themselves because they mention that, as a result of the original 2005 article, “many have written to renounce the idea they once entertained—that one cannot address Christ in prayer and song” (3). As Proverbs says: “The first one to plead his case seems right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Pr. 18:17).

Brother Jackson begins by alleging that “a vocal minority” within the church opposes praying or singing to Jesus. He may be overstating the case since statistics are not cited; so this point remains an unproven assertion. Anecdotal evidence to the contrary includes the fact that some congregations avoid songs addressed to Jesus (“Tell It to Jesus,” e.g.), although those that praise Him have always been acceptable. Many of those who have conducted gospel meetings or attended lectureships have never heard anyone address a prayer to Jesus.

Likewise, brother Jackson talks about a “leading advocate” of the “theory” that forbids praying to Jesus, but the reader does not know who that person is, and nothing is cited from this individual, such as a letter or published material on the subject. Of course, the reader has no way to verify the alleged positions of this nameless man. It is doubtful that many people would agree with some of the things the “leading advocate” says (as presented). To avoid future confusion, brother Jackson has permission to quote this review and use my name if he finds fault with the contents—even though I am far less than a “leading advocate.” In this way, his audience will not have to wonder who wrote these words or where they have appeared.

Matthew 6:9

In light of the fact that brother Jackson has had five years to make the best case possible for his position, it is surprising that he offers so little concerning the two main passages that establish the “praying to the Father” idea. He rightly points out that the prayer Jesus presents is only a model prayer and that every subject is not dealt with specifically. He also relates that other Scriptures legitimately have a bearing on any given text. In this instance, Jesus is speaking of addressing God reverently. “Our Father” is appropriate. We find out from other passages that God or Lord also was used. But where is the passage that addresses a prayer to Jesus?

If Jesus were addressed in prayer and such was approved, it would settle the matter, but He is not. The only time Jesus is asked something is the moment when someone is speaking to Him personally, as with the thief on the cross or Stephen. Nowhere in the New Testament do we find a prayer addressed to heaven that begins, “O Jesus, our Lord and risen Savior.” If we did, then we would all feel comfortable about doing the same thing, but no such example exists. The name of the Father is mentioned frequently and distinctly from Jesus numerous times in the epistles. Perhaps we should likewise keep that distinction clear.

Jackson’s proof of his position comes in the form of a quotation from William Shedd (d. 1894), who was a Presbyterian, high Calvinist theologian (according to Wikipedia). Shedd claims that, in addressing the Father, we are not excluding the Son or the Holy Spirit. Does that hold true for Jesus? When Jesus prayed in the garden, He prayed to (John 17:9, 15, 20) and addressed the Father no less than six times (John 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24, 25); was He also addressing Himself? Have we not always taught that the Father is the leader and originator of plans in the Godhead? We cannot fail to honor God if we pray to the Father, as Jesus taught us.

In the prayer in Acts 4, the disciples mentioned that all were gathered together against God’s holy servant, Jesus (Acts 4:27). They did not say, “Jesus, we know how everyone was gathered together against You.” In David’s humble psalm of repentance, he did not pray, “O Holy Spirit, do not remove Yourself from me.” He prayed to God, “And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Ps. 51:11). Nothing of what Jackson says or cites in this section on Matthew 6:9 establishes his view.

John 16:23

Jackson makes three arguments concerning this verse. The first is that Jesus is not dealing with the issue of whether or not to address Him in prayer. In this verse Jesus says: “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatsoever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” While Jesus may not be dealing with this issue per se, that fact does not mean that what He said has no bearing on the matter. Regardless of the context, He still says they would ask Him nothing but rather the Father in His name.

Second, Jackson says that this verse only pertains to questions that had been bothering the disciples “at the moment,” and when they received the Holy Spirit, those matters would be cleared up (5). This is a strange explanation. First, from John 14:23 to 16:23 the disciples only had one question:

Then some of His disciples said among themselves, “What is this that He says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” They said therefore, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is saying.”

These verses do not fit Jackson’s theory at all. Second, Jesus said He had things to say to them that they could not now bear, but the Holy Spirit would explain them later (John 14:25-26; 16:12-13). The third thing is that John 16:23 fits within the context of Jesus explaining what He meant by the words quoted above. They would have sorrow when He was crucified—but joy when He was raised from the dead (John 16:22). In that day, when He was resurrected and ascended to Heaven, they would ask Him nothing (since He would no longer be upon the earth). But what they asked the Father in His name (since He personally would be absent from the earth), He would give it to them. Jesus repeats, “In that day you will ask in My name…” (v. 26). (John 16:22-26)

The third argument Jackson uses is from W. E. Vine: “The Lord did not mean that no prayer must be offered to Him afterwards. They did address Him in prayer, Acts 1:24; 7:59; 9:13, etc.” The prayer in Acts 1:24 is addressed to the Lord, but nothing further in the context indicates that the Lord in this case refers to Jesus. The prayer beginning in Acts 4:24 is also addressed to the Lord, but it is clearly the Father (Acts 4:27). Stephen’s “prayer” to Jesus was discussed previously. See articles Praying To Jesus or “Stephen’s Final Prayer” (A Review).

The third verse Vine cited was Acts 9:13, and it is a conversation—not a prayer. Jesus commissioned Ananias to go lay his hands on Saul that he might receive his sight (10-12). Ananias answered (notice, answered, not prayed):

Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests, to bind all who call on Your name (Acts 9:13-14).

The Lord then reassured Ananias, and he accomplished the task he had been assigned. It is an extreme strettcchh to use this conversation as an example of prayer. Why not use the conversation between Jesus and Saul as well? When Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” (Acts 9:5), was he praying as well? How about when asked what the Lord wanted him to do (Acts 9:6)? One may as well try to claim that, when Peter was told to rise, kill, and eat, and he said, “Not so, Lord,” that this was a prayer, also. If there were any passage that clearly exhorted brethren to pray to Jesus, it would be cited, and this controversy would be at an end. Instead proponents of “praying to Jesus” appeal to verses that do not say what they claim and try to obfuscate others.

Deity is Worshiped

Even though praising, honoring, and worshiping God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit is a separate matter from Whom one should address in prayer, Jackson still insists upon confusing the two. He goes so far as to equate those who refuse to worship Jesus as being on a par with the man of sin in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9 (6). But these hysterics are totally beside the point. Do we not praise Jesus in our prayers? Yes. Do we not praise Him in song? Of course, we do! These are nothing but red herrings that Jackson uses to sway the reader over to his position and prejudice the case against those who follow what Jesus said to do by praying to the Father.

John 14:14

Jackson puts great stock in John 14:14 to support his case even though the verse only says: “If you ask [me] anything in My name, I will do it.” The King James, the American Standard, and the New King James omit me, but the New American Standard and the English Standard Version have it. The disputed word is contained in some manuscripts but not others. Jackson tries to establish its legitimacy by saying that Bruce Metzger “cites some of the oldest and best manuscript witnesses” in its favor (6). Hmm. Is this the same Bruce Metzger who rejects Mark 16:9-20 as being inspired of God, and is he using those same “oldest and best manuscript witnesses” that the NIV references when they denounce Mark 16:9-20? Will brother Jackson stand with Metzger against Mark 16:9-20? The answer to this question is one that many brethren would probably like to know. (Thankfully brother Jackson does stand against Metzger on Mark 16.)

The fact is that the same two manuscripts (Sinaiticus and Vaticanus) that omit Mark 16:9-20 are the two leading authorities that include me. While Jackson lists certain scholars that think the word belongs, other scholars reject its inclusion. Generally, brethren refrain from using a disputed text upon which to build a doctrine. Even if me did belong in the text, it would still not prove that Christians today are to pray to Jesus. There is no reason to think that verse 14 is doing anything more than just echoing verse 13, which has no me: “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father be glorified in the Son.”

Acts 1:24 and 7:59 Revisited

Brother Jackson presents a reasonable explanation for concluding that Jesus is intended by the term Lord in Acts 1:24. Perhaps his best reason is that Jesus chose the other apostles and would be the natural one to select a successor for Judas (6). It is true that Jesus is often designated as Lord, but so is the Father. In the Acts 4:24 prayer, the Father is originally addressed as Despota, but later He is called kurie (Acts 4:29), which is identical to the term in Acts 1:24. Kurios also clearly refers to the Father in Acts 4:26, because He is distinct from His Christ. The best that can be said of Acts 1:24 as “proof” for praying to Jesus is that it is a good circumstantial case, but Acts 4:26 and 29 make it less than compelling.

The only additional information concerning Stephen’s “prayer” to Jesus is what Jackson cites concerning comments that Guy N. Woods made in a question and answer session after a gospel meeting. While we all have a tremendous amount of respect for brother Woods’ ability, no human being is always correct. So if he concluded that Stephen “prayed,” he was entitled to think so, though many brethren disagree, but the point still is, “Did he ever address a public prayer to Jesus?” If he had, it would not prove that he was correct in doing so, but if he did not, one must wonder why.

“O Lord, Come”

Has the reader noticed that many of the so-called prayers to Jesus are short? One is reminded of the Weird Al parody of George Harrison’s song, “Got My Mind Set on You” (the last number one song by any of the former Beatles) which he titled, “This Song’s Just Six Words Long.” That’s about the length of many of the alleged “prayers” to Jesus—except this one is even shorter. Does the Aramaic word, maranatha, mean, “O Lord, come”? Is this a prayer on the part of Paul (1 Cor. 16:21-23) (8)?

Much has been written concerning its meaning, but the text suggests that Weymouth (one of Jackson’s favorite paraphrasers) is right. Paul just finished saying that those who do not love Jesus are anathema. The most logical explanation is that he is providing a vivid reminder—especially to those who do not love the Lord—that He is coming. Weymouth renders it: “If any one is destitute of love to the Lord, let him be accursed. OUR LORD IS COMING” (1 Cor. 16:22).

However that verse is to be properly translated, Revelation 22:20 is clear: “Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!” Well, what do you know? This “prayer” is just six words long. Seriously, it is simply a rejoinder. It follows Jesus saying, “Surely I am coming quickly,” and many think that the Amen goes best with the Lord’s promise. All John is doing is responding to what Jesus said.

2 Corinthians 12:8

Paul does beseech the Lord three times to remove the thorn in his flesh, and it may well be that Paul made this request of Jesus rather than to the Father. But we have no evidence that this beseeching was not done in a personal way, just as Stephen’s request was directly made of the Lord. The fact is that we have recorded instances of Jesus interacting with a few of His preachers after His resurrection. We have already noted the conversation with Peter in Acts 10, as well as the one with Saul in Acts 9.

Paul did not have the privilege of being with Jesus upon the earth, as the other apostles did; so Jesus spoke with him on various occasions. One of those times was in Corinth when the Lord told Paul that He had many people in that city (Acts 18:9-10). This occurred some 25 years after Jesus ascended into heaven. Paul did not receive the gospel that he preached from the other apostles; it came “through the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:10-11).

In 2 Corinthians 12:1, Paul mentions that he had received “visions and revelations of the Lord.” We do not know how often or how extensive these may have been. It is possible that Jesus and Paul conversed and that Paul beseeched Him personally concerning the thorn. That this occurred in a conversation is implied by what Paul records: “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly will I boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9). It could scarcely be considered wrong for Paul to ask Jesus for something when he was personally conversing with Him any more than it had been for the apostles to do so previously when face to face with the Lord.

1 Timothy 1:12-13

How pertinent to this topic is Paul’s thanks to Jesus for His putting him in His service (1 Tim. 1:12-13)? Once again, this was an action that was personally done. In Acts 9, when Ananias protested to Jesus that Saul was a persecutor of Christians, the Lord revealed to him that He had personally chosen Saul and would reveal to him “how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (1 Tim. 1:15-16). Is it any wonder that Saul would thank Jesus continually for having given him the opportunity to serve (when he so little deserved it) and having counted him faithful as well? Who could fault Paul for thanking and praising Jesus for personally selecting him to be an apostle? These facts, however, in no way authorize Christians today to pray to Jesus—but to the Father in His name.

“Stephen’s Final Prayer” (A Review)

On July 1st, 2005, brother Wayne Jackson wrote an article, titled, “May a Christian Address Christ in Praise or Prayer?” On May 21st of the following year I wrote a response in Spiritual Perspectives. I made it clear that the disagreement was not one of a personal nature; many have benefited over the years from brother Jackson’s Christian Courier. However, since he had taken the time to write on the subject, a refutation was in order. I closed my article by noting that brethren have always had no problems in addressing our prayers to “our Father,” “God,” or “Lord”—and that we would have no problems in our assemblies if we continue that practice. If someone wants to pray to Jesus privately, he is certainly able to do so, even if he is incorrect. But at least he will involve no one else in his practice.

In August of this year, the Christian Courier published a special issue with most of the articles advocating praying to Jesus. Let’s begin with the final comments on page 32. We read that the publishers had decided to address “a brewing controversy” (32). One of the main articles within is titled, “The Praying to Jesus Controversy,” in which it is asked: “What is the origin of this simmering division: emotion or scripture [sic]?” Brother Jackson laments that we do not need another issue over which to divide, and every sane brother would agree. However, the way to avoid strife has already been stated; apparently that approach does not work for those at the Christian Courier.

Division can be avoided if everyone will just agree with brother Jackson. Those who do not probably are not exercising “a moderate measure of common sense” or combining “Bible knowledge and a familial temperament” (16). By making statements such as these, it is easy to observe that those who hold the “praying to Jesus” view exercise common sense and have a familial temperament while those who hold the majority view are shrill, emotional, fanatical, and unable to reason themselves out of a paper bag.

Who Appeals to Emotion?

What is interesting about this implied charge against opponents is that it is brother Jackson who appeals to emotions. He includes an excerpt from something that Wendell Winkler taught at the Polishing the Pulpit program on September 27, 2004. His topic was “Lord Teach Us to Pray.” He acknowledged that we usually pray to the Father through Jesus, but then he says that we need to be careful about telling someone they can not pray to Jesus. Using himself as an example, brother Winkler acknowledged that after the Lord’s supper He thanked the Father for His unspeakable gift, and he also thanked Jesus for being willing to die for him. Then he asked, “Is there anything wrong with that?” (15). Are we now taking a different approach in studying the Bible? For years, we have been saying that we need authority for what we teach and practice (Col. 3:17). Are we going to abandon that in favor of requiring proof that something is wrong?

A question was raised from the audience concerning praying to the Holy Spirit. Brother Winkler confessed that there were times during his illness that he did not know what to say, which is understandable. He asks: “Would I have sinned against God if I had said to the Holy Spirit: ‘Intercede for me, please’? Do you think I’ve sinned if I make that statement?” (15). Well, what person in the audience is going to jump up and say, “Yes.” Most have marveled at brother Winkler’s ability to present outstanding lessons from God’s Word, and he did suffer a great deal from cancer. But these things do not mean that he was right or wrong in his thinking on this subject. How is this different than a denominational person (having endured similar health problems) saying, “I sometimes play the piano and sing hymns at home. Is anyone going to tell me that’s wrong?” What about someone who says, “While I was sick, my daughter came in and led prayer for my family over me every day. Do you think I sinned in letting her do so?”

So why did brother Jackson include this text from brother Winkler? While it is true that he addressed the subject briefly, he made only one appeal to the Scripture, and even in that one he appealed to himself as an expert witness. He said concerning the words of the first martyr at his death, “Brethren have tried to explain that every way in the world, saying that wasn’t a prayer. If that wasn’t a prayer, I don’t understand prayer” (15). If brother Jackson did not include this page for its emotional value it possesses, what was the purpose? It is not brimming with Bible knowledge, which brother Winkler usually possessed.

Stephen’s “Prayer”

The text in question is Acts 7:59: “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’”

Is it not interesting that a short sentence of five words (six in the Greek) should elicit such controversy? However, if these five words constitute a prayer, then what about Stephen’s final words, which were, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” If verse 59 contains a prayer, why does not verse 60? However, brother Jackson discusses, verse 59 and calls it “Stephen’s Final Prayer.” Hmmm.

Jackson provides 5 reasons why Stephen’s words constitute a prayer. The first of these contains no point of disagreement regarding the Greek verb meaning to make a request (30). Berry’s Interlinear uses “invoking.” No one disputes that Stephen is making a request. Jackson quotes Mounce as saying it is a prayer, but this begs the question. Mounce is giving an interpretation—that the request is a prayer. The text does not use the word prayer.

Second, Jackson claims: “The present tense suggests the petition was repeated” (31). While such might be a possibility, surely no one would want to argue that every present tense implies repetition.

Third, it is claimed that the middle voice indicates Stephen’s intense personal need at this time (31); everyone can surely understand this point, but it does not advance the case for Stephen’s words being a prayer.

Fourth, Jackson claims: “The term frequently is employed of an ‘appeal to God in prayer’ as here,” and he appeals to Kittel & Friedrich (31). Of course, the reader sees the use of the term frequently implies that at other times the word is not used in connection with prayer. In fact, of the 32 times the word is used in the New Testament, at most one could claim 10 such instances, but most of these involved calling on the name of the Lord as it pertains to salvation (Acts 2:21; 22:16; Rom. 10:12, 13, 14). In those instances, calling on the name of the Lord refers to the salvation process and becoming a Christian. The Acts 7:59 text is the only recorded instance of specific words being uttered in connection with calling upon God. Jackson’s case on this point has been somewhat overstated.

The fifth point is as follows:

Several recent translations render the expression, “he was praying” (cf. NIV, Williams, Good-speed, Weymouth, McCord) (31).

This is a strange “evidence” for Jackson’s case, since he already pointed out that the verb literally means “calling upon.” He failed to mention the New Living Translation along with many of the other paraphrases he listed, which actually is recent (2007). Charles Williams’ translation was 1937, although there is a newer Montreal edition (2005). Goodspeed’s version was originally published in 1923. Weymoth’s translation was also known as The New Testament in Modern Speech or The Modern Speech New Testament. Weymouth compiled it and used it in the 1800s; he died in 1902, according to Wikipedia. His version was edited and first published in America in 1903—just two years after the American Standard Version. Brother McCord’s translation is dated from 1987.

Many of these are more paraphrases than translations, including the NIV, whose “dynamic equivalence” theory of translation makes it difficult to determine when it is accurate and when it is a paraphrase. [See “A Review of the NIV,”] Hugo McCord’s translation is well done for the most part, but it is not without flaws, and this is one of them.

Many other more recent translations than some of the versions cited keep the verse literal. Among them are the New American Standard Bible (1995 edition), and brother Jackson’s favorite, The English Standard Version of 2001. Perhaps this “proof” was only mentioned as informative rather than convincing.

The final effort to sway the audience to Jackson’s point of view is to furnish a few quotations. First cited is M. R. Vincent, who commented on Acts 7:59: “An unquestionable prayer to Christ.” However, this is an opinion—not part of the word study. He had previously dealt with identifying Jesus as the recipient of the request. A. T. Robertson made the same assessment, but as with Vincent, this is an assumption. Neither one made any effort to prove it was a prayer; that conclusion was simply their assessment.

Finally, H. Leo Boles is referenced as referring to what Stephen said as a prayer no less than five times, which is absolutely true. However, did Boles mean to say by what he wrote that Christians should pray to Jesus? Did Boles himself address his public prayers to Jesus? Now that would be information that was relevant. If Boles did hold that view, the important thing would not be his position on the topic, but the reasons that he had for having arrived at that view. In his Gospel Advocate commentary on Matthew, he does not speak about addressing Jesus in prayer; he only comments on how the addressing of God in the Christian era differs from approaching Him under the law.

Wrong and Sinful?

Some today are teaching that praying to Jesus is wrong and sinful, brother Jackson laments. However, a more fundamental question is, “Is praying to Jesus authorized for Christians today?” The question is not, “What happened while Jesus was upon the earth?” The Bible leaves no room for doubt as to the way He was regarded. Jesus was worshipped (Matt. 8:2; 9:18). He made it clear that He was Deity and had the power to even forgive sins (Mark 2:1-12). He even identifies Himself as the I AM who spoke to Moses at the burning bush (John 8:58; Ex. 3:14).

Thus, this “controversy” does not involve who Jesus is or if He is worthy of praise or worship. “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessings!” (Rev. 5:12). Those who reject praying to Jesus (and if we made a list, it would be quite lengthy) are attempting to show respect for what our Lord taught, when He said to address prayer to the Heavenly Father (Matt. 6:9; cf. John 16:23). Why should it matter to Christians if we pray to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit? They are all Deity, and they have all played a part in our salvation. We have no vested interest in selecting one over the other—except that Jesus said to pray to the Father, and we want to do only what we are authorized to do.

Did Stephen pray to the Lord? Consider two other texts. In Matthew 14 Jesus came walking on the water to the boat, and Peter told Him to bid him to come to Him on the water, which Jesus did (v. 29). After Peter looked at the effects the wind was having on the water, he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. He cried out, “Lord, save me!” The Lord rescued Peter. Would we classify this as a prayer? While Jesus was on the cross, the thief said, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” (Luke 23:42). Are all of these prayers, direct address, or urgent requests?

And what about the blind man near Jericho? He first cried out for mercy (Luke 18:35-39). Jesus asked him what he wanted Him to do for him, and he answered, “Lord, that I may receive my sight” (Luke 18:40-41). Jesus granted his request. Was this a prayer or a conversation? All of these involve direct address, and a request, but none of these constitute prayers as we usually think of them. In fact, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language lists the following two definitions first for the word pray:

1. To utter or address a prayer to a deity or other object of worship. 2. To make a fervent request; plead; beg….

Of course, the important thing is that the same definitions and concepts were around in the first century as well as today (Luke 14:18-19, et al.). In torments the rich man looked up to see a great man of faith and the friend of God. He addressed him: “Father Abraham,” and asked for relief which was denied (Luke 16:23-24).

Was his request a prayer to Abraham? Many are likewise unconvinced that what Stephen said constitutes a prayer, but even if it could be so categorized, it furnishes no pattern for us—unless we also see Jesus and can talk directly to Him.

New Testament Prayers

What would be profitable would be to see what the early church did by way of addressing prayers. A brief prayer is found in Acts 1:24-25, which begins, “You, Lord….” Nothing stated shows conclusively whether the Father or the Son is being addressed. However, in Acts 4 is a recorded prayer, and we do know to whom it is addressed: “Lord, You are God, who made the heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them” (Acts 4:24). If this were all, the point might yet be disputed, but Acts 4:27 removes any doubt: “For truly against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontus Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together….”

If anyone doubts that there is a heavy emphasis on the Father in the New Testament, he should simply look up and see how many passages contain that appellation. Ephesians contains 8; Colossians 6, 1 John 12, and most of the other books contain several. In addition to those instances, the thought of John 15:23 is repeated in Ephesians 5:20 (to be examined later). On two occasions, Paul mentions that by the Holy Spirit we cry out, “Abba, Father!” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6). Notice that we do not cry out, “Jesus!”

Where is the example of anyone praying to Jesus in the New Testament? Stephen seems to be the only text that can be cited, and the problems in making such a claim have already been dealt with. Brother Jackson closes his comments about Stephen by trying to assert that a supernatural appearance does not make a sinful action all right and then rather peculiarly tires to parallel an incident concerning John and the angel to Stephen and Jesus.

When John fell down and worshipped the angel, he was rebuked for doing do—twice (Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9). The fact is, however, that such a practice had never been allowed, and no time ever existed when it was permissible. People made requests of Jesus constantly while He was on earth; so Stephen, upon seeing Jesus, did not do anything that had not already been done.

This “controversy” does not need to exist. Many of us over the decades have traveled the country over and have never heard anyone leading a prayer addressed to Jesus. Nor is there any reason for anyone to insist on this idea now. In fact, it would disturb most brethren in many congregations. As it was pointed out previously, no compelling reason exists for making such a change. Why is it that brethren are always desirous of introducing something that would wound someone’s conscience (weak or otherwise)? It is certainly not necessary to address public prayers to Jesus; so why insist that it be done? Who is the one causing “controversy”?