The New Testament era officially began with the birth of Jesus. As God in the flesh, He ushered in a new age and revealed God more intimately than any Old Testament Jew could have ever imagined. The “one” Lord God of Israel was revealed to be one God who actually exists in three distinct persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Is it any wonder that this concept of God as a Trinity was rank blasphemy to so many Jews? We can hear them crying out, “God the Son? NO!! God the Holy Spirit? NO!! The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4). If you were a Jew in the time of Christ, you probably wouldn’t have been so quick to accept Jesus, either. After all, not only did He claim that He was God’s Son, He also had the audacity to place the Holy Spirit on the same level as Himself and the Father.
Furthermore, the New Testament era also brought the teaching that prayers should be prayed to God by way of Jesus. Specifically, the New Testament describes a three-link “prayer chain” that involves each member of the holy Trinity. The chain is as follows:
Link #1: God the Holy Spirit indwells each Christian and prays intercessory prayers for the Christian in accordance with God’s will.
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (Romans 8:26, N.K.J.V.)
Link #2: God the Son (Jesus Christ) sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven and, acting as High Priest, prays for the Christian, takes the Christian’s own prayers to God the Father, and takes the Holy Spirit’s prayers concerning the Christian to God the Father.
Seeing then that we (Christians) have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16, N.K.J.V.)
Link #3: Prayers should be addressed to God the Father in Jesus’ name.
“And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” (John 16:23-24, N.K.J.V.)
As you can see, the New Testament places the highest premium on praying in the name of Jesus. The fact is, it isn’t hard to see how someone could possibly reach the conclusion that God doesn’t even hear the prayer of anyone (Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) who isn’t a Christian. After all, everything about the New Testament is Christ-centric.
Along these same lines, we should also consider the following passages:
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, N.K.J.V.)
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:7-9, N.K.J.V.)
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12, N.K.J.V.)
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5, N.K.J.V.)
“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” (John 5:22-23, N.K.J.V.)
And He went through the cities and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Luke 13:22-24, N.K.J.V.)
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14, N.K.J.V.)
It’s impossible to read these passages and miss what they teach: Jesus is the only way to God the Father. You might not agree with this teaching, but you should at least be honest and admit that it is there. And so what implication does this teaching carry in regard to prayer? If we concede that Jesus is the only way to God the Father for salvation, must we also concede the same in regards to prayer? Phrasing the question another way, does God the Father’s ear only hear prayers that are prayed through Jesus? My answer is, no. And what I’m going to do is devote the next three posts to explaining why I give that answer. So, I hope you’ll stay tuned because it promises to be an interesting study.