EDIT: BE SURE TO READ THE GREAT DISCUSSION WE HAD AFTER THIS ARTICLE WAS POSTED IN THE COMMENTS SECTION
Recently I had the pleasant opportunity to engage in a great discussion at CARMchat with a poster named Gamma4. This individual inquired as to why LDS 0nly pray to the Father, and why we do not pray to Jesus as well. The question was intended as evidence against our claim to be Christian. The reasoning was that if we truly consider Christ to be God, we should pray to him.
Mr. (Ms.?) Gamma was very polite and respectful and I hope to encounter him (her?) again sometime. Below I have copied a piece of an article by Cooper Johnson in which he addresses a similar challenge made by CRI. The tone of Johnson’s article is understandably very defensive owing to the nature of the critic (CRI), but the tone is not representative of my attitude towards Gamma4. Nonetheless, it provides some valuable thoughts on this subject.
This is the link to the article, but below I have quoted the piece of the article that directly addresses the issue: http://www.fairlds.org/Anti-Mormons/Can_Mormons_Be_Considered_Christians.html
(From here down are the words of Cooper Johnson as quoted at FAIR)
CRI continues with the following interesting proclamation:
Where does this leave Jesus in Mormon Theology? Well, Mormons say they believe that Jesus is Jehovah, the LORD, the God of Israel, yet they refuse to pray to Him, as Jehovah Himself commands in the Old Testament (cf. Deut. 4:7; 2 Chron. 7:14; Pss. 5:2; 32:6; Jer. 29:7,12)–the same Jehovah who knows of no other God besides Himself, the One worshipped and honored by all true Christians (Ex. 34:14; cf. Matt. 2:11; 14:33; Luke 24:52).
Readers are to believe, according to CRI, that Mormons aren’t Christian because they don’t pray to Jesus or Jehovah. I must say that CRI is correct in assessing to whom Mormons pray. We do not pray to Jesus or Jehovah. We pray to our Father in Heaven (e.g. God, the Father). We pray according to the specific instructions given to us by Jesus, Himself. Here is the specific command of Jesus: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven…”27 Now, this is, of course, from the King James Version of the Bible. Let us take a look at other Bible translations just to make sure this is clear for our Catholic and Protestant friends that may use those other versions:
“Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven…” (NASB)
“Pray like this: Our Father in heaven…” (NLT)
“So talk to your God like this: Our Father in heaven…” (WE)
“Thus therefore pray ye: Our Father who [art] in the heavens…” (YLT)
So, it is abundantly clear in Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount that we are instructed, indeed commanded (contrary to CRI’s claim), to pray to the Father. Nowhere in the New Testament are we instructed to pray to Jesus. Nor, am I aware of any passage of scripture in the New Testament that records any person approaching Jesus Christ in prayer as opposed to the Father.
Yes, it is correct to say that Israel prayed to Jehovah, who was the same person as Jesus. But should we do all that the Israelites did? Should we perform all that the Jews did for Jehovah? Should we continue animal sacrifice? Should we continue in the practice of circumcision? No, of course not. The Law of Moses was fulfilled in Jesus. So, just as many of the practices under the Law of Moses should not be practiced today, due to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles and prophets, nor should we use the Old Testament as our guide at the expense of Jesus Christ’s words and commands to pray to the Father.
There is no other command, in regard to whom we should pray, but that of Jesus to pray to the Father. Latter-day Saints have been taught in kind. We do indeed pray to the Father. Does that make us unchristian?
Now, one might rightly ask, “what about Jesus Christ? Why should we leave him out?” The answer is simple: Latter-day Saints don’t leave Christ out. Again, it is Christ’s instructions that Latter-day Saints follow. Just as He taught us, we pray to the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ. Jesus said:
“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”28
Further, when Jesus was instructing the apostles, he repeats this theme with more detail:
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”29
I can’t help but wonder in this situation (when people claim I’m not Christian because I don’t pray to Jesus), why would Jesus tell the apostles to pray to “the Father, in my name,” if He really wanted them to pray directly to Him? The answer is obvious, is it not? Jesus wanted them to pray to the Father. Nowhere does Jesus command us or even suggest that we pray directly to Him.
Why? Because just as we come unto God, the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ for salvation and Eternal Life, we also come unto God, the Father, through His Son, Jesus Christ, in prayer. It is perfectly consistent.
It is important to share one last piece of instruction, by Jesus unto His apostles. As Christ prophesied to them of his death and how soon they would not see him any longer, for He would go to be with His Father. He tried to console them at this disheartening news and then told them:
“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.” (John 16:23)
Once again, we find the clear distinction between asking Christ and asking the Father. Jesus clarifies that once He is gone out of their presence and ascends to Heaven, they are not to ask Jesus for anything. They are to pray unto the Father in His name. This is the third time Christ repeated this charge to His apostles. Certainly, this must be important, to be repeated time and time again by Jesus. Yet CRI and other groups have decided to exclude The Church of Jesus Christ from being considered Christian, for simply following the clear Biblical teaching on the matter, from the lips of Jesus Christ Himself.
We have Christ commanding us to pray to the Father, by example. Then we have three separate instances where Jesus repeats this instruction (not to mention other examples of Christ praying unto the Father). But, try as one might, there isn’t one passage that instructs us to pray to Jesus. Not one. Yet CRI wants to make this a prerequisite for being a Christian. Amazing, isn’t it?
Now, if there are those who are Christian and Bible believers who wish to pray directly to Christ instead of to the Father in Christ’s name, then so be it; that is their choice. But to use this practice as a club to beat the Mormons with and declare them unchristian is quite a different thing.
27 Matthew 6:9.
28 John 14:14-15.
29 John 15:16.