There are three views that attempt to explain the prayers of Jesus to the Father. The first view is the traditional Trinitarian view that contends that since a person prays, Jesus as the second person of the Trinity prayed to God the Father who is the first person of the Trinity. This view teaches that one person in the Godhead prayed to another. The second view is that of the Oneness theologians who maintain that the human nature of Jesus prayed to the divine nature within Him. In this view, the proponents teach that there is only one person in the Godhead but when God was manifested in the flesh, the “incarnation” produced a dual nature within Jesus. One nature was fully human and the other fully God. They teach that the human nature prayed to the divine to solicit help. The third view which I believe is the true biblical view is that of the One God interpretation. This view states that Jesus did not pray to another person outside of Himself or for His own needs or weaknesses. Rather, He prayed for fallen humanity. He had come for this very purpose: to be our INTERCESSOR. In other words, His prayers were on behalf of helpless, depraved humanity. He was playing the role of High Priest for us and was our spokesman.
THE VARIOUS VIEWS ANALYZED
After having briefly introduced the varying views, let us take a closer look at each one.
- ONE PERSON TO ANOTHER PERSON VIEW:
- The first objection raised against this view is that it contradicts all scriptures in the Bible that declare that God is numerically One. Here are a few examples:Deut 6:4; Deut 32:39; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:8; Zech 14:8; Mal 2:10; John 1:1,14; Mark 12:29,32; Rom 9:5; I Tim 2:5; I Tim 3:16; James 2:19; I John 5:20.In the light of these overwhelmingly One God scriptures, it would be inconsistent with the testimony of God Himself to state that One God called Jesus is praying to another God called the Father in a triune Godhead.
- The doctrine of the Trinity, as outlined in the Athanasian Creed states that the three persons are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial. This begs the question. How can Jesus be said to be co-equal with the Father if He has to pray to Him? Wouldn’t His praying imply that He is inferior to God the Father?
It must be pointed out that this view only developed after the doctrine of the Trinity was fully formulated by the church fathers at Nicea and Constantinople. Some questions for he Trinitarians is: Why did Jesus pray to the Father only and not to the Holy Spirit? Why does He say in John 16:26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will PRAY the Father for you: Why does He all of a sudden no longer pray to the Father at that day?
- HUMAN NATURE PRAYS TO DIVINE NATURE THEORY:
- 1 Cor 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? This view has clearly divided Christ into two vague natures called fully human and fully divine. They subscribe to and claim to agree with the doctrine of the Council of Chalcedon ad 451, but Trinitarians refuse to accept them as fellow-Chalcedonians because Chalcedon never said that one nature prayed to another within Jesus. This view is radical and goes to great lengths to maintain the unity of the man Jesus while clearly leaning heavily towards Nestorianism which divided Christ into two separate persons. Oneness theologians have been asked to explain what they mean by “one nature praying to another” because a nature does not pray but a person does. Besides Mary did not give birth to a nature but to a person.
- Another weakness of this theory is that it accommodates a strange and unwarranted belief that Jesus had the potential to sin. To them, Jesus prayed to avoid temptation and sin. The human nature, say they, was akin to ours, minus the inherited sin of Adam. Did not Jesus say though,John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin?Did not James declare, James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:Thus we contend that Jesus did not pray for Himself. He never knew sin nor could He ever know it.
JESUS WAS FULFILLING THE ROLE OF INTERCESSOR:
Then why did Jesus pray if He is the One True God? The first answer lies in the prophecies of Isaiah.
Isa 59:16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him.
Please carefully notice that God saw NO MAN AND NO INTERCESSOR. When Jesus prayed, He did so because there was no one else in the whole universe who could pray and intercede for humanity. In other words, only God could fulfil this role;
Isa 63:3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: If there is no one else to intercede and pray for humanity, then it must be God alone who can pray and play the role of High Priest for us.
Isaiah goes on;
Isa 53:12 …and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Luke 22:32 …But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Paul also proclaims the same message;
2 Cor 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Notice that God was not outside the sufferings, tears, groaning and mourning of Christ but that they were all part of the reconciliation process.
We read in the book of Daniel chapter 9, that the prophet even though innocent, numbers himself amongst the transgressors of the children of Israel and prays saying “we have sinned against thee”. Now nothing sinful is ever mentioned concerning Daniel yet he repented as though he was a sinner of the wickedest sort. When Jesus prayed “not my will”, He cannot be speaking of some independent will that He possesses outside of the Father. A look at these scriptures should confirm that:
John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
. .Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.
Church history tells us that after declaring two natures in Jesus, the church fathers, went on to declare two wills in Him. One will for each nature: Below is part of an article from Encyclopaedia Britannica 2005:
“Constatine IV became emperor in 668, the controversy was revived, and the new emperor summoned a general council, which met at Constantinople in 680. It was preceded in the same year by a synod under Pope Agatho at Rome. According to Agatho, the will is a property of the nature, so that, as there are two natures, there are two wills; but the human will determines itself ever conformably to the divine and almighty will. The third Council of Constantinople condemned Monothelitism and asserted two wills and two operations in the person of Christ.”
This then is what the Oneness theologians will not tell you. The Apostles believed in One God who manifested Himself in His own flesh and blood which was not another independent human being having his own nature, spirit, will etc. From the moment the Word was made flesh it was for our reconciliation, redemption and propitiation. Isaiah almost despairs knowing that the prayers of Jesus are going to be misconstrued and misunderstood:
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted
In the scriptures below from Romans 8, we read that THE HOLY SPIRIT PRAYS OR INTERCEDES FOR US. QUESTION IS, TO WHOM IS THE HOLY SPIRIT PRAYING? IS HE PRAYING TO THE FATHER? OR IS HE PRAYING TO ANOTHER PERSON WITHIN HIM? Naturally all such talk is foolish. There is only One Spirit and His intercession for us MUST BE GOING BACK TO HIMSELF SINCE THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD. HOWEVER, WE DO NOT SAY IS PRAYING TO GOD. RATHER IT IS CORRECT TO SAY THAT GOD WHO IS SPIRIT IS INTERCEDING AND PRAYING FOR US WHO ARE WITHOUT STRENGTH. SO IN LIKE MANNER, WHEN JESUS PRAYED, HE WAS PRAYING SOLELY FOR US. I TIM 2:5
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.