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8. Are Worship and Prayer Directed to Jesus?

Chapter 8

Are Worship and Prayer Directed to Jesus?

When Proskyneō is used of Jesus, Does it Mean Divine Worship?

Worshipping Jesus or paying homage to Jesus?

In Matthew 2:11, when the magi visited the infant Jesus, did they “worship” Jesus (ESV) or did they pay him “homage” (NJB)? Here we see two rather different ways of translating the Greek word proskyneō.

As we shall see, Greek-English lexicons give two definitions of proskyneō, one of which is primary and fundamental, and the other is secondary and derivative. The fundamental meaning is “to kneel before someone” or “to prostrate oneself before someone”—a bodily expression of paying homage to someone without necessarily ascribing deity to him (e.g. bowing before a Roman commander). But in some contexts, proskyneō can have the derivative sense of worship. Whereas the first and fundamental meaning does not necessarily involve the attribution of deity, the second may involve divine worship.

When we encounter proskyneō in the New Testament, the question of which is its intended meaning is often settled by seeing who is the object of the proskyneō. If God is the object, proskyneō would by definition mean divine worship (e.g. Mt.4:10, “You shall worship the Lord your God”). But if the object is a human dignitary, then proskyneō would mean kneeling or paying homage without the attribution of deity (apart from idolatry).

Hence the intended meaning of proskyneō is often governed by who is the object of the proskyneō, and whether that person is viewed as divine. The mere use of proskyneō does not, in itself, confer deity on a person, for an act of kneeling does not necessarily involve divine worship.

In the ancient Near East, kneeling or bowing was a common gesture of reverence and courtesy, and was not in itself understood as divine worship. We see this not only in the NT but also in the LXX (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible). To give just two examples, Abraham bowed before the Hittites (Gen.23:12) and David bowed before Saul (1Sam. 24:8; v.9 LXX). In the LXX of these two verses, proskyneō is used. Hence it is erroneous to conclude that Jesus is God solely by the fact that proskyneō is used of him.

What does proskyneō mean when it is used of Jesus?

There are 60 instances of proskyneō in the New Testament, of which 17 are used of Jesus (as the object of proskyneō in all 17 instances). A full list of the 60 instances will be given later.

Where proskyneō is used of Jesus, ESV would often translate it as “worship” (e.g. the disciples “worshipped” Jesus after he had calmed a storm, Mt.14:33) but sometimes as “kneel” (e.g. the mother of the sons of Zebedee knelt before Jesus, Mt.20:20). ESV, NIV, NASB exhibit a tendency to translate proskyneō as “worship” when it is used of Jesus, presupposing his divinity.

But many other Bibles differ from ESV in the way they tend to translate proskyneō when it is used of Jesus. Whereas ESV says in Mt.2:11 that the magi “worshiped” the infant Jesus, other translations give no indication of worship: “did him homage” (NJB, NAB, NRSV, Darby), or “honored him” (CEB), or “adored him” (Douay-Rheims), or “bowed low in homage to him” (REB), or “prostrated themselves in reverence to him” (ITNT). This is despite the fact that some of these Bibles have trinitarian credentials, either by reputation or by the Catholic Imprimatur, the Catholic Church’s seal of approval (for NJB, NAB, Douay-Rheims).

Whereas ESV renders Matthew 2:11 to mean the worship of the infant Jesus, this interpretation is rejected by the following trinitarian commentaries in their analyses of Mt.2:11: Tyndale Commentary says that “the verb worship (proskyneō) need mean no more than to pay homage to a human dignitary”. John Calvin says that the magi did not “come to render to Christ such pious worship as is due to the Son of God,” but intended to salute him as “a very eminent King”. Constable’s Expository Notes says that the magi’s statement “does not necessarily mean that they regarded Him as divine” but “may have meant that they wanted to do Him homage”. Expositor’s Bible Commentary says that the magi’s “statement suggests homage paid to royalty rather than the worship of Deity”.

The difference of opinion over the meaning of proskyneō extends to other Bible verses. Whereas ESV says the disciples “worshiped” Jesus after he had calmed a storm (Mt.14:33), and that the women at the empty tomb “worshiped” Jesus (Mt.28:9), most of the aforementioned Bibles speak of bowing to Jesus or paying homage to him. For example, for Matthew 14:33, NJB has “bowed down before him,” and NEB and REB have “fell at his feet”. [1]

The crucial question

This brings us to the crucial question: Since proskyneō can mean either worship or paying homage, which is the correct meaning when it is used of Jesus? Is it possible for us to arrive at a correct translation of proskyneō that does not depend on doctrinal presuppositions? Can we break the deadlock in which trinitarians interpret proskyneō to mean worshipping Jesus, and non-trinitarians interpret to mean kneeling before Jesus?

Compounding the problem is that a verse such as Matthew 2:11 (the magi “worshipped” Jesus) has no obvious internal evidence in favor of one interpretation over the other. If you presuppose that the magi worshipped Jesus, then proskyneō would mean “worship” to you. But if you believe that the magi paid homage to Jesus, then proskyneō would mean “pay homage” to you. So are there external and objective factors that can break the deadlock?

Fortunately, we do have a way of breaking the deadlock because there are four verifiable facts at our disposal that do not depend on doctrinal presuppositions. None is conclusive by itself, but when the four are taken in combination, they guide us to the correct meaning of proskyneō when it is used of Jesus.

Fact #1: Worship is not the fundamental meaning of proskyneō but only a derivative meaning

Two standard Greek-English lexicons, BDAG and Thayer, indicate that worship is only a secondary or derivative meaning of proskyneō. BDAG gives the following glosses (summary definitions), quoted here verbatim and in the same order as in BDAG (the lone boldface is mine):

  • to express in attitude or gesture one’s complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure
  • (fall down and) worship
  • do obeisance to
  • prostrate oneself before
  • do reverence to
  • welcome respectfully

Thayer’s lexicon gives the following definitions of proskyneō, quoted here verbatim and in the same order as in the lexicon (citations omitted, the lone boldface is mine):

  • to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence
  • to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence
  • kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication
  • It is used a. of homage shown to men of superior rank;
  • b. of homage rendered to God and the ascended Christ, to heavenly beings, and to demons: absolutely (or to worship)

The striking fact is that in BDAG and Thayer, the two tiny words in boldface are the only definitions of proskyneō that have anything to do with divine worship! In both these lexicons, the idea of worship is given far less prominence than the idea of kneeling or paying homage. In fact, only one quarter of the literary citations in BDAG are assigned to “worship,” indicating that in New Testament, the more fundamental meaning of proskyneō is not worship but kneeling or paying homage.

Fact #2: Proskyneō is almost no longer used of Jesus after his ascension despite its continued use in the New Testament!

The word proskyneō occurs 60 times in the New Testament: 29 times in the four gospels and 31 times after the gospels. Hence the use of proskyneō is about evenly divided between the gospels and the rest of the New Testament. We include two tables below, a shorter one and a longer one.

The balanced split (29 versus 31 occurrences) is significant because of an astonishing fact: After the four gospels, proskyneō is no longer used of Jesus (with two exceptions) despite the continued use of proskyneō in the New Testament! To be specific, proskyneō is used of Jesus 17 times in the NT: 15 times in the four gospels but only twice after the gospels.


The 17 occurrences of proskyneō applied to Jesus Christ

The Four Gospels

After the Gospels

Matthew 2:2

Matthew 2:8

Matthew 2:11

Matthew 4:9

Matthew 8:2

Matthew 9:18

Matthew 14:33

Matthew 15:25

Matthew 20:20

Matthew 28:9

Matthew 28:17

Mark 5:6

Mark 15:19

Luke 24:52

John 9:38

Hebrews 1:6

Revelation 5:14



The next table—the longer one—shows all 60 occurrences of proskyneō in the NA28 Greek New Testament. The table is divided into two parts: the four gospels (with 29 occurrences) and after the gospels (with 31 occurrences). The 17 verses highlighted in color are the 17 that refer to Jesus, and correspond to the same 17 verses listed in the shorter table.


All the 60 occurrences of proskyneō in the Greek NT

Matthew      2:2    2:8    2:11    4:9      4:10

                     8:2    9:18    14:33    15:25    18:26

                     20:20    28:9     28:17       

Mark            5:6    15:19

Luke            4:7    4:8      24:52     

John           4:20   4:21   4:22   4:22   4:23   4:23

                    4:23   4:24   4:24     9:38  12:20

Acts             7:43    8:27    10:25    24:11

1 Corinthians   14:25

Hebrews        1:6     11:21

Revelation    3:9       4:10      5:14       7:11    9:20    11:1     11:16   

                       13:4    13:4    13:8     13:12    13:15    14:7    14:9

                       14:11    15:4     16:2    19:4   19:10   19:10   

                      19:20    20:4    22:8    22:9

In this table, a verse is listed multiple times if it has

multiple instances of proskyneō (e.g. John 4:23).


From these two tables, we see that proskyneō is no longer used of Jesus after the four gospels, with only two exceptions: Hebrews 1:6 and Revelation 5:14. But Heb.1:6 does not count as post-Gospel because it is a reference to Jesus’ physical birth:

And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6, quoting Ps.97:7, LXX 96:7).

This verse is found in a passage in Hebrews that proclaims Jesus’ superiority over the angels. But the idea of worship is not entrenched in this verse. NJB avoids using the word “worship” when it renders Hebrews 1:6 as “Let all the angels of God pay him homage”; ITNT has “All God’s angels must revere him”; REB has “Let all God’s angels pay him homage”.

But the more significant verse for trinitarians is Revelation 5:14 because this is the only verse in the New Testament that comes close to the explicit worship of Jesus, by the fact that proskyneō is applied to Jesus together with God who is seated on His throne. This verse will be discussed soon.

Why the sudden drop?

What could account for the sudden drop—indeed, near disappearance—in the application of proskyneō to Jesus after the gospels (only two instances, in reality only one instance, as opposed to 15 in the gospels) despite the continued use of proskyneō in the New Testament?

The clue lies in the fact that the dividing point between the gospels and the rest of the New Testament also happens to be the dividing point between the earthly Jesus and the ascended Jesus. This accounts for the fact that proskyneō is often used of Jesus in his earthly presence but rarely in his heavenly absence.[2]

This striking fact tells us that whenever proskyneō is used of Jesus, it ought to be understood as paying homage to Jesus rather than worshipping Jesus. After Jesus ascended into heaven, he was no longer physically present on earth; this would explain why people on earth no longer knelt to him.

But if we take the trinitarian view that proskyneō means the divine worship of Jesus, there would be no obvious reason for the worship to stop after his ascension into heaven. For if Jesus is really God as he is in trinitarianism, then divine worship should still continue in Jesus’ absence, for an omnipresent God can be worshipped anywhere in the universe. In fact, if Jesus were God, we would expect an increase, not a decrease, in the application of proskyneō to Jesus after his ascension, because the risen Jesus is now the exalted Lord who has been given the name above every name.

Historically and chronologically, the very last time before Revelation 5:14 that proskyneō is used of Jesus is Luke 24:52, which is precisely at the point of his ascension into heaven! This is not a coincidence. Luke 24:52 is most significant for fixing the cutoff point precisely at the demarcation of the earthly Jesus and the ascended Jesus.

Fact #3: Proskyneō is used mainly by John, yet he almost never applies it to Jesus!

Of the 60 occurrences of proskyneō in the NT, 35 are found in John’s writings versus 25 in the rest of the NT, which would make proskyneō a predominantly Johannine word. Yet John applies proskyneō to Jesus only twice in all his writings! These two are John 9:38 (the formerly blind man bowed before Jesus) and Revelation 5:14 (the verse we have noted and will discuss soon).

On the other hand, John applies proskyneō ten times—in the full sense of worship—to Satan or the beast or the image of the beast! [3]

Although proskyneō is a predominantly Johannine word, John almost never uses it of Jesus, a fact that is surprising given that trinitarians regard John’s writings as espousing a high Christology. But there is really nothing shocking about this at all, since it is in John’s Gospel that Jesus declares that his Father is the only true God (John 17:3). In this same gospel, we see the intentions of Jesus’ heart when he exhorts us to worship his Father: “worship the Father” (Jn.4:21); and “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (v.23).

Fact #4: The latreuein word group is never applied to Jesus

To explain this fourth point, it would be helpful to divide it into subpoints:

  • A “word group” is a group of words which share a common cognate.
  • The latreuein word group consists of the words latreuein, latreia, leitourgein.
  • Respectively, these three words mean: (i) to serve or minister as a cultic activity; (ii) cultic devotion; (iii) to render cultic service. The word “cultic” pertains to religious devotion to God.
  • Here is the crucial observation: The latreuein word group expresses divine worship more strongly than any other word group in the New Testament, yet it is never used of Jesus in the NT!

These points are explained in section 1.2 of James D.G. Dunn’s Did the First Christians Worship Jesus? The following excerpts are taken from pp.13-15 of the book (with Dunn’s footnotes omitted):

The most common of the other near synonyms is latreuein, which basically means ‘to serve’. In biblical literature, however, the reference is always to religious service, the carrying out of religious duties, ‘to render cultic service’.

. . . . .

And in several passages latreuein is translated ‘worship’ in English translations. It is noticeable that in each case the object of the verb, the one who is (to be) served/worshipped, is God. Apart from one or two references to false worship, the reference is always to the cultic service/worship of God. In no case in the New Testament is there talk of offering cultic worship (latreuein) to Jesus.

. . . . .

As with latreuein, so also with the matching noun, latreia, ‘(cultic) service, worship’. It refers always to the worship of God … Here we need simply note that the number of latreia references is very limited, and here too the ‘service/worship’ is never thought of as offered to Jesus.

. . . . .

Here we should also mention the infrequent leitourgein, ‘to render cultic worship’ (as in Heb. 10.11, and in a variant reading of Titus 1.9), but also ‘to render material service’, as in the giving to the collection that Paul was making for the poor in Jerusalem (Rom. 15.27). But most interesting for us is Acts 13.2, where Luke describes the church in Antioch ‘worshipping (leitourgountōn) the Lord’. Is ‘the Lord’ here Jesus (as frequently in Acts)? Or does Luke speak of the worship of the Lord God? It is difficult to decide, although, as in the other ‘Lord’ = God references in Acts, the influence of Old Testament usage suggests that Luke was thinking of worship of God.

. . . . .

Bearing in mind that the latreuein word group is the nearest expression for the offering of ‘cultic worship’, the fact that it is never used for the ‘cultic devotion’ of Christ in the New Testament is somewhat surprising for Hurtado’s main thesis and should be given some attention.


Conclusion of the four facts: Jesus is not worshipped

We have presented four facts that can be verified objectively and empirically and independently. None of these four facts is conclusive by itself, but when they are taken in combination, they show beyond doubt that proskyneō, when used of Jesus, means kneeling to Jesus, or reverencing him, or paying homage to him, and not worshipping him as deity. Indeed Jesus exhorts us to worship the One whom he calls, “my Father and your Father” and “my God and your God” (Jn. 20:17). True worship is not the worship of Jesus but worship with Jesus.

The special case of Revelation 5:14

The following is based on an earlier discussion in chapter 6, but is condensed in a way as to be a fitting conclusion to our present discussion.

The word proskyneō occurs 60 times in the New Testament, with 24 of the instances (40%) found in Revelation. That is a high percentage for one book, yet none of the 24 instances of proskyneō in Revelation is used of Jesus with the sole exception of Rev.5:14 where the 24 elders “worship” God and Jesus. Here the worship (proskyneō) is directed not to Jesus alone but also to God who is seated on His throne.

Here is a crucial observation: In the book of Revelation outside Rev.5:14, proskyneō always refers to God and never to Jesus, without exception. Hence it is clear that when proskyneō is applied to both God and Jesus in the sole verse Rev. 5:14, it is God and not Jesus who is the principal reason for the use of proskyneō. This is consistent with the fact that in the immediate context of Rev.5:14, the central figure is God who is seated on His throne.

We are reminded of the way the people of Israel bowed before God and before King David (note highlighted words):

1 Chronicles 29:20 David then addressed the whole assembly: “Now bless Yahweh your God!” And the whole assembly blessed Yahweh, God of their ancestors, bowing down in homage to Yahweh, and to the king. (NJB)

In the Hebrew of this verse, YHWH occurs three times. In the LXX of this verse, the phrase “bowing down in homage” corresponds to proskyneō, the word used in Revelation 5:14.

The use of proskyneō in 1Chr.29:20 is crucial because it tells us that the LXX translators did not hesitate to apply proskyneō to David when it is also applied to Yahweh! The parallel between David in 1Chr.29:20 and Jesus in Rev.5:14 is heightened by the fact that Jesus is the Messiah from David’s line. We note that in 1Chr.29:20, the main intended recipient of the worship is not David but Yahweh by the fact that David said, “Now bless Yahweh your God.” Yet that does not rule out David (or Jesus in Rev.5:14) participating with Yahweh as the recipient of the proskyneō!



In the New Testament, Prayer is Addressed to God, not to Jesus Christ

In the previous chapter, we surveyed the New Testament to see if the doxologies and thanksgivings recorded in the NT are directed to Christ in the same way they are directed to God the Father. The overwhelming Scriptural evidence shows that this is definitely not the case.

What about prayer? Are prayers addressed to Jesus in the same way as they are addressed, or ought to be addressed, to the Father? To answer this question, we now look at the range of Greek words which cover the various aspects of prayer, notably that of making a request to God in prayer.

The Greek words for making requests to God in prayer

The verb erōtaō (ἐρωτάω, ask, request) occurs 63 times in the NT, seven times with the meaning of making a request to God in prayer. The seven instances are all found in John’s writings: six times in John’s Gospel and once in 1 John. The following is a list of the seven instances (two in John 17:9), all quoted from ESV. In each and every case, the request is made to God the Father and not to Jesus Christ:

John 14:16  I will ask the Father

John 16:26  I will ask the Father on your behalf

John 17:9    I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me.

John 17:15   I do not ask that you take them out of the world

John 17:20   I do not ask for these only

1 John 5:16  I do not say that one should pray for that

Another verb, aiteō (αἰτέω, ask), occurs 70 times in the NT, 29 times with the meaning of making a request to God in prayer. Of these 29 instances, eight are found in John’s Gospel, all in chapters 14 to 16, and five are found in First John. [4] This leaves 16 occurrences outside John’s writings.[5] Again, all these have to do with making a request to God, not to Jesus Christ, in prayer.

We mention two more words. The first is deomai (δέομαι, ask, plead for, request, beseech), which occurs 22 times in the NT, most often in Luke–Acts (15 times). It occurs once in Matthew and never in the Johannine writings. It occurs six times in Paul (Rom.1:10; 2Cor.5:20; 8:4; 10:2; Gal.4:12; 1Th. 3:10), but it is only in Rom.1:10 and 1Th.3:10 that the word refers to praying.

The other word is the noun deēsis (δέησις, entreaty, prayer) which Paul often uses of prayer: of the 18 occurrences of this word in the New Testament, 12 are found in Paul’s letters.

Regarding these two words: Whenever deomai or deēsis is used of prayer in the New Testament, it always refers to prayer to the Father, without exception. In many cases, it is used of Jesus praying to the Father. For example, in Lk.22:32, deomai is used of Jesus praying to the Father for Peter. In Heb.5:7, deēsis is used of Jesus who “offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death”.

Words for prayer

The word parakaleō (παρακαλέω, beseech, urge, exhort, comfort) occurs 109 times in the New Testament, but only twice in the sense of prayer. It is not the usual word for prayer but is a word that carries the sense of “call for help” (BDAG). The first instance of this word with the meaning of prayer is Mt.26:53 in which Jesus, as he was being seized in Gethsemane, rhetorically asked whether or not he could call to the Father for help and He will send him twelve legions of angels.

The only other instance of parakaleō in the sense of prayer is found in 2Cor.12:8 where Paul says that he pleaded with the Lord, either Jesus or God, three times for the removal of the thorn in the flesh. But because parakaleō is not the usual word for prayer (used only twice in this sense) despite its being a common word in the New Testament (109 times, usually a plea for help), it is not determinative for our understanding of prayer. However, our overall examination of prayer in the New Testament may require us to note, for the sake of completeness, that this lone verse, 2Cor.12:8, does not negate the consistent Biblical pattern that prayer is addressed to the Father alone.

What then are the predominant words for prayer? In the New Testament, the main words for prayer are the verb proseuchomai (προσεύχομαι) and the noun proseuchē (προσεύχη). These occur 85 and 36 times, respectively, for a total of 121 times in the New Testament.[6]

Given the preponderance of these two words, it is striking that there is no instance, or at most one or two debatable and indirect instances, in the New Testament of proseuchomai or proseuchē being used of prayer addressed to Christ. On the other hand, these words are often used of Jesus praying to the Father during his earthly ministry. Not even after his ascension are we exhorted to address our prayers to Jesus Christ. Instead he continues to pray or intercede for us:

Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (ESV)

Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (ESV)

In both these verses, the word “intercede” or “intercession” is translated from the verb entynchanō (ἐντυγχάνω, intercede, appeal to). In the first verse, the word is used of Christ’s appealing to God on our behalf. It is also used in Romans 8:27 of the Spirit’s intercession for us.

Finally, enteuxis (ἐντευξις, petition, intercession) is found in 1 Timothy 2:1 and 4:5. In 2:1 the word is used with three other words related to prayer (deēsis, proseuchē, eucharistia, already examined). As expected, in both these verses, enteuxis refers to prayers addressed to God by disciples or believers.


Our survey of prayer in the New Testament has not shown any specific exhortation to pray to Christ. Rather, in this age Christ continues to pray to, and intercede with, the Father for us.

In the post-resurrection, post-Pentecost age, the only instance of a petition addressed to Jesus is Stephen’s committing of his spirit to Jesus (“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” Acts 7:59), followed by a plea for forgiveness for his persecutors (“Lord, do not hold this sin against them,” v.60). But this is a case of a disciple committing his spirit to his Lord at death—like a sheep committing itself to its shepherd—and imitating the Lord Jesus who likewise asked that his persecutors be forgiven (Lk.23:34).

Another instance is found in Revelation 22:20 in which we see the welcoming exclamation, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” made in response to Jesus’ announcement, “Surely I am coming soon.” But this can hardly be classified as a prayer in the usual sense of the word.

These are the only two “prayers” directed to Jesus in the New Testament in the widest possible definition of the word “prayer”. In fact these are more accurately described as exclamations to Jesus, not prayers to Jesus.

Calling on the name of Jesus?

What about calling on the name of Jesus? Let us consider the following:

To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours. (1Cor.1:2, ESV)

We note two things. First, as already seen in this verse, for Paul the church is not “the church of Jesus Christ” or “the church of Christ” but “the church of God”. The term “church of God” occurs several times in the NT (Acts 20:28; 1Cor.1:2; 10:32; 11:22; 15:9; 2Cor.1:1; Gal.1:13; 1Tim.3:5,15) whereas there is only one instance of a similar term used in relation to Christ, namely, “the churches of Christ” (Rom.16:16), a reference to some regional churches that sent their greetings to Rome. But when Paul refers to the church as a whole, he uses “the church of God” and never “the church of Christ”.

Secondly, the title “Lord” that is used of Jesus in 1Cor.1:2 is hardly applicable to the eternally divine “God the Son,” the second person of the Trinity, for it is a title that, in the exalted sense, was conferred on Jesus only after he had been raised from the dead. It was God who made Jesus “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36; cf. 5:31; Rom.14:9). This exalted title “Lord” is not to be confused with “Lord” in the everyday sense as used in the gospel narratives by people who addressed Jesus as “Lord” in the sense of Sir or Master or Teacher.

The Greek word kyrios (“Lord”) was routinely used in everyday speech as a respectful form of address similar to “Sir” or “Mister” with no attribution of deity. The Pharisees used kyrios of Pontius Pilate (Mt.27:63); the Samaritan woman used it of Jesus before she knew he was a prophet (Jn. 4:11); some Greeks used it of Philip (Jn.12:21); the Philippian jailor used it of Paul and Silas (Acts 16:30); John used it of one of the 24 elders in the heavenly vision (Rev.7:14).

In the Greek Old Testament (LXX), Sarah used kyrios of Abraham (Gen.18:12). She did not of course speak Greek to her husband; the point is that the Jewish translators of the LXX (which predates Christianity) unhesitatingly applied kyrios to human beings. In the book of Genesis alone, kyrios is used by Ephron the Hittite (of Abraham, 23:11), Rebekah (of Abraham’s servant, 24:18), Rachel (of her father, 31:35), Jacob (of Esau, 33:13), Joseph’s brothers (of Joseph, 42:10), Judah (of Joseph, 44:16), and Joseph (of himself, 45:8).

Because Jesus was obedient to his Father unto death, it pleased God to exalt him to the highest degree such that “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil.2:11). This lordship does not amount to any alleged deity. Paul is here speaking of Jesus’ exaltation by God, to the glory of God. To confess that “Jesus is Lord” is to acknowledge that Yahweh glorified him by this title because of his unconditional devotion and obedience to his Father (this will be discussed further in chapter 10).

With these NT background points in mind, we can better understand the meaning of “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Cor.1:2), a phrase which incidentally occurs only in this verse in the whole New Testament. In view of the exaltation of Christ in Phil.2:9-11, it is remarkable that this phrase does not occur more often than it does. Even parallels to it are few, and most of them are found in Acts (the following are from ESV):

Acts 9:14 And here (Saul) has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.

Acts 9:21 And all who heard (Saul) were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name?”

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.

Jesus is the image of God (Col.1:15) and Yahweh’s plenipotentiary and representative who comes in Yahweh’s name. Calling on the exalted and glorified Jesus is to call on Yahweh who sent him and dwells in him. Similarly, calling on “the name of the Lord” in Romans 10:13 (a quotation of Joel 2:32) could refer to calling on Jesus through whom we call on Yahweh.



Praying Directly to God the Father

As trinitarians we worshipped and prayed to Jesus. Occasionally we would pray to the anonymous “Father” of the Trinity, but then always in Jesus’ name and with the belief that we cannot pray to the Father except through the Son. Our inattention to the Father didn’t trouble us because, with Jesus supposedly being God, we didn’t feel that we were being denied access to God. But when God in His great mercy began to open my eyes to see the Scriptures in the wonderful light of Biblical monotheism, I was surprised to discover, upon looking anew at the Scriptures, that the NT church did not worship or pray to Jesus as we trinitarians did. The NT records no prayers to Jesus though trinitarians might regard as prayers the exclamations in Acts 7:59 and Rev.22:20, but that is possible only by stretching the definition of prayer to include any one-sentence exclamation to Jesus.

After Jesus’ ascension and the outpouring of the Spirit on the church at Pentecost, the prayers of the early believers were addressed to God (Yahweh) whereas Jesus was mentioned as His “servant” (pais, e.g. Acts 3:13,26; 4:27,30). The rest of the New Testament does not depart from this practice of praying only to God. In spite of Phil.2:10 (“at the name of Jesus every knee should bow”), Paul says, “I bow my knees before the Father” (Eph.3.14).

The Psalmists prayed directly to Yahweh

The Psalms are a collection of 150 songs of prayer and praise to Yahweh. Anyone who reads the Psalms would know that the Psalmists would often acknowledge that Yahweh has heard and answered their prayers, and for that reason much praise and thanksgiving is offered to Him.

Christians who insist that we cannot pray to God except in Jesus’ name could perhaps explain to us why the Psalms contain no reference to Jesus or to the necessity of an intermediary who makes possible such direct and magnificent communication with Yahweh as is found in the Psalms. This is less an issue of dogma than a matter of erecting spiritual barriers in people’s lives. From the way some Christians explain prayer, one gets the impression that before Jesus came, anyone could pray directly to Yahweh; but after Jesus came, direct prayer to Yahweh was curtailed even for God’s people by the necessity of praying in Jesus’ name.

Why is it that in the Old Testament, anyone could pray directly to Yahweh the Most High God, yet this has supposedly become impermissible after Jesus came? In the Old Testament, Yahweh God was even willing to answer the prayers of foreigners who did not belong to Israel:

When a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you (1Kings 8:41-43, ESV)

This is just one of several hundred passages in the Old Testament that speak of God’s mercy to those who pray directly to Him without an intermediary. Anyone who is tangentially familiar with the Bible would know that the one who finds himself or herself in distress or danger can call upon Yahweh directly. Will Yahweh our Creator turn a deaf ear to His creatures when they sincerely call to Him for help, even if they haven’t yet known Him as their Savior? Indeed Psalm 36:7 speaks of God’s universal love for mankind: “The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings”.

God’s compassion is seen also in the thousands of real-life stories outside the Bible. Many have testified of how God had rescued them from calamity when they called out to Him despite not knowing Him. I have several books on my shelf that recount how God delivered those who cried out to Him despite having no claim to being Christians.

To close this section, here are a few verses in the Psalms in which the psalmists pray directly to Yahweh without invoking the name of Jesus or an intermediary, and quite often Yahweh hears their prayers (all verses are from ESV, with “Yahweh” in the original Hebrew restored):

Psalm 6:9 Yahweh has heard my plea; Yahweh accepts my prayer.

Psalm 39:12 Hear my prayer, O Yahweh, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! (cf. 17:1; 84:8; 86:6; 102:1; 143:1)

Psalm 69:13 But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Yahweh. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.

Psalm 88:13 But I, O Yahweh, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Psalm 116:4 Then I called on the name of Yahweh: “O Yahweh, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Psalm 118:25 Save us, we pray, O Yahweh! O Yahweh, we pray, give us success!


Praying directly to our Father

The New Testament does not abolish direct one-to-one communication between us and God. The “man Christ Jesus” (1Tim.2:5) is indeed the mediator between us and God, but his work of mediation was completed when he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Then the veil in the temple was torn in two (Mt.27:51; Mk.15:38; Lk.23:45). Jesus “has now reconciled (aorist) you in his body of flesh by his death” (Col.1:22), for God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2Cor.5:19, i.e., reconciled to God the Father, as seen in v.18). And having been reconciled to the Father, we can now pray directly to Him! Or do we insist that our reconciliation with God our Father is partial and incomplete? Or comes with conditions and restrictions that prevent direct communication with Him without an intermediary?

Anyone who cares about prayer would sympathize with the disciple who said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (Lk.11:1). Then Jesus answered: “When you pray, say, ‘Father, hallowed be your name…’” This prayer is so esteemed in Christendom that it is often called the “model prayer” or “the Lord’s prayer,” and is regularly recited in some churches. Here is Matthew’s account of the prayer:

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9-13, ESV).

We note two things from this passage, and these serve to demonstrate the vast gulf between our traditional notions of prayer and what the Bible says about prayer. Firstly, to the question of how we ought to pray, the answer is found in two powerful words, “Our Father”. We pray directly to the Father, not to Jesus.

There is not one instance of prayer to Jesus in the whole Bible unless we stretch the definition of prayer to include the exclamations in Acts 7:59-60 and Rev.22:20 which are so brief as to contain a combined total of only 17 words in the Greek, even fewer than in a typical Bible verse (e.g. the well-known John 3:16 has 25 words in the Greek). The absence of prayer to Jesus in the New Testament is hardly surprising to the monotheist, for prayers are addressed to God, whereas Jesus is not God.[7]

Secondly, the Lord’s prayer does not conclude with the traditional closing words, “We pray for this in Jesus’ name, Amen”—a formula that is universal in Christian practice but is found nowhere in the Scriptures!

In teaching us to address God as Father, Jesus graciously considers us to be on the same level as himself in terms of family hierarchy. Jesus speaks of God as “my Father and your Father, my God and your God” (Jn.20:17), which means that Jesus is our brother and shares the same Father with us. In the same sentence, Jesus explicitly refers to his disciples as “my brothers”.

Just as Jesus prayed directly to his God and Father, so we are to pray directly to our God and Father. In a family, do the younger siblings need to get authorization from the eldest brother every time they approach their father? Do they say to the father, “I now come to you in the name of elder brother”? We seem to have forgotten that we have been “born of God” (1Jn.3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18). 1John 5:18 says that we are “born of God” and that Jesus was “born of God”—in the same sentence!

Jesus is our mediator and only way to the Father (John 14:6). But after he had completed his work of salvation and reconciliation, we now have direct access to the Father. After having been fully reconciled with God, are we still under obligation to say “in Jesus’ name” every time we communicate with our Abba Father? In fact the exclamation “Abba! Father” (Rom.8:15; Gal.4:6) is said directly to the Father.

But Christians reverse the matter, not realizing that it was God who in the first place sent Jesus to reconcile us to God Himself. Ultimately, the work of reconciliation is done not so much by Christ as by God through Christ and in Christ (2Cor.5:18-19).

Direct prayer requests

The hindering of direct communication with the Father by imposing the condition of saying “in the name of Jesus” is yet another consequence of the trinitarian error of sidelining the Father by making Christ the focus of a “Christocentric” faith.

Where is the Scriptural evidence for saying that we cannot approach the Father except in the name of Jesus? Why does Jesus himself teach us to pray, “Our Father in heaven”? Some trinitarians, in a disturbing effort to seek out ever more restrictions, will point to John 15:16 in which Jesus says, “Whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give it”. When trinitarians quote this verse, there is often the implication that the Father won’t hear our request unless it is validated with Jesus’ authority. This interpretation flies in the face of what Jesus himself says about how the Father relates to His children: “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” (Mt.7:11; cf. Lk. 11:13). Note the powerful words “your Father” and “ask him” and “how much more”. Our heavenly Father is much more willing than our earthly fathers to give us good things! Yet in the trinitarian scheme of things, a child has more direct access to his earthly father than a child of God has in relation to his heavenly Father!

These two verses on asking the Father directly (Mt.7:11; Lk.11:13) appear just after the Lord’s prayer (Mt.6:9-13; Lk.11:2-4) which is notable for addressing the Father directly (“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name,” or in Luke simply, “Father, hallowed be Your name”), but also notable for the absence of the traditional formula, “In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen”. The two surrounding passages, Mt.7:7-8 and Lk.11:9-10, bring out the threefold principle of asking (in order to receive), seeking (in order to find), and knocking (in order to have the door opened), all in relationship to the Father and not Jesus Christ.

Jesus says, “the Father himself loves you” (Jn.16:27), a beautiful truth that is echoed in his words to the Father: “You loved them just as you loved me” (17:23). In the light of all that Jesus has said about the Father, how can anyone still insist that the believer cannot approach the Father or ask Him for anything unless it is first validated by Jesus?

In any case, who is entitled to act in Jesus’ name? Do most Christians live under his authority? Is the average Christian of such spiritual caliber that he or she can rightly ask for anything or do anything “in the name of Jesus”? Given the mediocre spiritual condition of most Christians today, why do they suppose that they can use Jesus’ name to get whatever they want from the Father, unashamedly quoting the words, “whatever you ask the Father in my name” (Jn.15:16)? In the first place, those who live mediocre Christian lives would hardly seek spiritual things yet wholeheartedly pursue things that cater to their self-interests. Don’t we hear this kind of selfish prayer all the time? “God, bless me and grant me good grades and a high-paying job”. This way of thinking is breeding a selfishness that has crept into the lives of many Christians.

And why do trinitarians think that this lone verse in John is sufficient justification for their blanket statement that no prayer is acceptable to God unless it is made in Jesus’ name? If they had looked more closely at the context of this verse, they would have seen that the whole passage, John 14 to 16, is about the gift of the Holy Spirit (Jn.14:17,26; 15:26; 16:13) which at that time had not yet been given. The disciples had to wait for the day of Pentecost for the arrival of that gift. At Pentecost, the church in Jerusalem asked the Father for the gift of the Spirit as they met together with one heart and mind in prayer, and they did receive the Spirit (Acts 2:1-21).

As regards asking for the Spirit, let us take Jesus’ statement to heart: “If you, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Lk. 11:13). No one can take the gift of the Spirit for granted; we must ask “the heavenly Father” for this precious gift. The early church prayed together for this gift and waited for it. But once the Spirit had been given to the church at Pentecost, did the church as a whole keep on asking for the Spirit again and again in all the days that followed as if they had never received it? From the scriptural data, clearly not. If a believer had prayed for and then received the gift of the Spirit, does he have to keep on asking for the gift of the Spirit “in Jesus’ name” again and again? Evidently not, for why would we keep on praying for the Spirit in Jesus’ name again and again as if the prayer has never been answered? In fact the Spirit is meant to be with the believer forever (Jn.14:16).

It is possible that one’s prayer for the Spirit has never been heard, for the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God (Acts 5:32). In any case, most Christians say prayers that have nothing to do with the gift of the Spirit. Such Christians should heed what Paul says: If anyone does not have the Spirit, he does not belong to Christ (Rom.8:9). The tragedy of the church today is that it is full of believers who pray in Jesus’ name, yet do not belong to God. Then they wonder why their prayers are not heard despite the use of the formula “in Jesus’ name”.

Learning prayer from the Psalms

We reap much spiritual benefit when we use the Psalms as an instruction guide to prayer. The book of Psalms is the prayer book of God’s people. The psalms come in different types: psalms of supplication, psalms of thanksgiving, and psalms of praise. Some people are dismayed when they encounter a psalm that prays for God’s severe judgment on slanderers, evildoers and persecutors. This is believed to be contrary to the forgiving spirit of the New Testament. But that impression is incorrect, for the concern for justice is not any weaker in the New Testament than in the Old Testament, as can be seen in Revelation, especially in regard to the martyrs (cf. Paul’s concern for retributive justice, 2Tim.4:14-16).

The great value of the Psalms lies in the repeated assurance that Yahweh answers prayer, a truth that brings forth much thanksgiving from the psalmists. This is a much needed corrective to the trinitarian notion that for a prayer to be heard, it needs to be concluded in Jesus’ name. No such formula is ever uttered in the Psalms, yet that doesn’t prevent prayers from being heard.

Proverbs, too, testifies to the fact that “Yahweh is far from the wicked but hears the prayer of the righteous” (15:29). The key to answered prayers is not some kind of trinitarian formula but righteousness. The notion that God hears us because we utter “in Jesus’ name” as a formula is one of the many errors we have inherited from our trinitarian background. Yet in Psalms and other books in the Bible, the prerequisite to answered prayer is righteousness. And Yahweh in His grace makes that righteousness available to us in Christ.

“In my name”

In the whole New Testament, the phrase “in my name” in relation to asking for something from God occurs only in John chapters 14 to 16, a section that is about the coming of the Holy Spirit. In these three chapters, “in my name” occurs 7 times (John 14:13,14,26; 15:16; 16:23,24,26). Here is John 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.

The two occurrences of “ask” in this verse represent two different Greek words. The first “ask” (erōtaō) usually has to do with asking a question.[8] The second “ask” (aiteō) usually has to do with asking for something.

The disciples may have asked Jesus many questions, but when it comes to asking for something, Jesus would guide them to the Father, not to himself (with one possible exception, discussed later). Likewise, Mt.7:11 teaches us to direct our requests to the Father: “How much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?”

When Jesus says, “whatever you ask the Father in my name,” he is not referring to things like cars and houses that prosperity preachers like to bring up. The “whatever you ask” is qualified by the words “in my name”. And what is his name? His name is not “God” which in any case is not a name but a term of description. His name is Jesus which means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation” whereas Christ refers to Yahweh’s anointed Messiah-King, the savior of the world. Here we see the motifs of salvation, suggesting that “whatever you ask” has mainly to do with salvation.

Since the whole section John 14 to 16 is about the coming of the Spirit called the “comforter” (John 14:16), therefore “whatever you ask” has to do with God’s power for salvation in the age following Jesus’ departure at the completion of his earthly ministry, after which everything is governed by Yahweh’s Spirit operating in the church. Jesus is telling his disciples that they can receive whatever they need in the spiritual life by asking the Father for the Spirit in his name and authority. And when the gift arrived at Pentecost, the disciples proclaimed the message of salvation to the nations.

The Holy Spirit was well known to the Jews. But in the Old Testament the Spirit of Yahweh did not indwell people, not even the great prophets and servants of God, but was depicted as “coming upon” people (e.g. upon Jahaziel who prophesied before King Jehoshaphat, 2Chr.20:14), empowering them to fulfill a task that Yahweh had sent them to do.

The situation changed with the coming of Jesus and the establishing of the new covenant in which the Spirit of Yahweh plays a central role. This was prophesied in Joel 2:8-32 (“I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,” v.28) and fulfilled in Acts 2:16-22. The Spirit is poured out, yet we are still to ask the Father for the Spirit (Lk.11:13). The Spirit won’t be given until Jesus has been glorified in his death, resurrection, and ascension (Jn.7:39). This fact, in combination with Luke 11:13, clarifies much of what Jesus teaches about the Spirit.

An important theme in these three chapters, John 14 to 16, is the mutual indwelling that is so central to John 15 and is the key to life under the new covenant. The mutual indwelling is seen in: John 15:4 (“abide in me, and I in you”), 14:20 (“I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you”), and 14:10 (“I am in the Father and the Father is in me”); also 17:21.

Is John 14:14 an exception to Jesus’ teaching?

In John’s Gospel, “in my name” occurs only in John 14 to 16, which are precisely the three chapters in which Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit. This indicates that asking “in my name” must somehow relate to the Spirit. In these three chapters, “in my name” occurs seven times and always in connection with praying to (or asking) the Father, with the possible but uncertain exception of 14:14: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it”.

The crucial difference in this verse is that the asking is directed not to the Father but to Jesus himself. Hence it is hermeneutically difficult to reconcile Jn.14:14 with the other verses in John where “in my name” has to do with asking the Father. Taken at face value, Jn.14:14 does not make obvious sense, not only because the other similar verses speak of asking the Father, but also because if we are asking Jesus directly, what is the point of asking him in his own name? As for the words “I will do it” in 14:14, it ought to be remembered that it is ultimately the Father who is doing it through Jesus, as we see four verses earlier: “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (Jn.14:10). So when Jesus says “I will do it,” it is the Father who is doing the work through him. Jesus does nothing of his own (Jn.5:19), can do nothing on his own (5:30), and speaks nothing of his own authority (8:28), but does the work of his Father (14:10).

Not surprisingly, John 14:14 has significant textual issues. It is uncertain if the word “me” in “if you ask me” is in the original Greek of John 14:14. It does not appear in some important ancient uncials such as A D K L Q Ψ (see NA28’s critical apparatus). UBS3 (p.390) classifies its uncertainty at level {B}, indicating “some degree of doubt”. The degree of doubt remains at {B} in UBS4/UBS5.

There is even doubt about the whole verse itself, which is omitted by some manuscripts, as seen in the UBS5 footnote to John 14:14 (“omit verse 14 ƒ1 157 565 l 761/2l 761/2l 2111/2l 10741/2 itb vgms syrs,pal arm geo”). UBS4’s companion volume, A Textual Commentary on the Greek NT, says, “Ver.14 is omitted by a scattering of witnesses, including several important ancient versions,” though the commentary ultimately accepts the verse as part of the original text.

For similar reasons, the United Bible Societies NT Handbooks (vol.4, on Jn.14:14) arrives at the conclusion that the asking is directed to the Father:

… this verse [Jn.14:14] is entirely omitted by some Greek manuscripts, though the evidence favors its inclusion … Some manuscripts do not have me in the phrase if you ask me … The Father could be assumed as the one to whom the prayer is directed.

The uncertainty over the word “me” in “if you ask me” is documented in many Bibles. ESV says in a footnote to Jn. 14:14 that “some manuscripts omit me”. HCSB likewise says, “other mss omit Me”. KJV, NKJV, RSV, REB omit “me” even in the main text, as does the French Louis Segond Bible.

John 14:14 is not otherwise problematic. The insertion of “me” into the Greek text is likely the work of a trinitarian or proto-trinitarian. A few late manuscripts have “the Father” instead of “me” but this could be an interpretive addition in the opposite direction, perhaps to harmonize this verse with the other similar verses in John chapters 14 to 16.

The Expositor’s Greek Testament (vol.1, p.824) omits “me” in its Greek text. Regarding “in my name” in Jn.14:13, EGT says, “The name of a person can only be used when we seek to enforce his will and further his interests.” Jesus always seeks to do his Father’s will; hence invoking Jesus’ name must always be done in conformity with the Father’s will or else it would be a serious misuse of the name.

Many Christians invoke “in Jesus’ name” as a magic formula to be used in prayer to get God to grant them what they ask, reducing Christianity to pious superstition with little connection to biblical teaching. The guiding principle that Jesus intends for invoking “in my name” is seen in the previous verse: “Whatever you ask [the Father] in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (Jn. 14:13). Jesus’ desire that the Father be glorified in the Son is the guiding principle of Jesus’ life and ministry, and ought to be ours too.

[1] The Revised English Bible, though largely unknown in USA, is a standard Bible in the United Kingdom, being the result of a collaborative effort of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Methodist Church of Great Britain, and others.

[2] When we speak of Jesus’ heavenly “absence,” it is from the perspective of those living on earth, for Jesus is no longer on earth but in heaven. But in heaven, when proskyneō is used of Jesus (Rev.5:14), it is still in his physical presence—but in heaven.

[3] Rev.13:4 (2x); 13:8; 13:12; 13:15; 14:9; 14:11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4.

[4] The eight in John’s Gospel are 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23; 16:24 twice; 16:26. The five in First John are 3:22; 5:14; 5:15 twice; 5:16.

[5] The 16 instances are distributed as follows: Matthew 7 times, Mark once, Luke 5 times, and Paul’s letters 3 times (Eph.3:20; Col. 1:9; Phil.4:6 as cognate aitēma).

[6] The verb occurs 35 times in Luke–Acts and 19 times in Paul, whereas the noun occurs 9 times in Acts and 14 times in Paul. In the synoptics, the verb is used 19 times and the noun twice of Jesus’ praying to the Father, for a total of 21 times in the synoptics. Neither Greek word is found in John’s Gospel.

[7] Historical note: “Some early theologians objected to [praying to Jesus], among them Origen. He argued that though it is proper to address requests and thanksgivings to saints or even ordinary human beings, prayer in the proper sense—a request to God for something which only God can grant, combined with praise—may be addressed only to God the Father (On Prayer, 14-16) … Jesus cannot be the object of such prayers because he himself offered them during his earthly life … Perhaps as a result of criticisms like Origen’s, there is not much evidence from the following centuries of early Christianity of prayer directed to Jesus in baptismal and eucharistic liturgies.” (Jesus Now and Then, Richard Burridge and Graham Gould, p.148)

[8] It can occasionally refer to asking for something, as in Jn.14:16; 16:26; 17:9. But in these instances, it is Jesus who asks the Father.



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