When you look at the prayers recorded in the Old and New Testaments, you realize that many prayers are directed to God the Father, not God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. In fact, there are no examples in Scripture of prayer being offered to the Holy Spirit, and there are very few indications that prayer is to be offered to Jesus Christ directly.
Of course, if we look at the New Testament, then we see that many prayers were from Jesus Christ Himself, Who always prayed to the Father and (obviously) never to Himself as God the Son. In the Old Testament, God was not as comprehensively revealed as one God in three Persons like He is in the New Testament, so there is no real surprise that we do not see prayers offered to individual members of the Trinity there.
The clear pattern of prayer in the Bible is that prayer is directed to God the Father. However, I believe that it is appropriate to pray to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit directly as well. There are places in Scripture that indicate praying to the Son is acceptable and even encouraged. Though there are no instances of prayer directly addressed to the Holy Spirit in the Bible, I think that it is still right to pray to Him. I think we need to be careful when saying that prayer can be offered to the Son and the Spirit, for prayer directed to God the Father is obviously the primary pattern. This is a somewhat difficult issue to address, and I want to avoid error as much as possible. But I am reasonably confident that prayer to any member of the Trinity is acceptable.
Following are my reasons. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology was particularly helpful when I was writing this article.
Praying to the Son
There is evidence that individuals in the Bible prayed directly to Jesus Christ. We can see it shortly after Jesus ascended, in the book of Acts, where Stephen is being stoned: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59). Some also believe that at the beginning of Acts, when the apostles are seeking a replacement for Judas, that they are praying to the Lord Jesus when they say “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen…” (Acts 1:24 but see 4:24-27). There is a conversation between Ananias and “the Lord” in Acts 9:10-16, and we learn in verse 17 that it was Jesus Who spoke to Ananias. Paul prayed to “the Lord” about the thorn in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:8).
The book of Hebrews also seems to invite us to pray to Jesus, Who is described as a merciful high priest Who is able to sympathize with us, and Who is seated on the throne of heaven (Hebrews 1:3, 2:17, 4:15). We are encouraged to approach the throne with boldness so that we may “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16). I understand this to mean that we should approach Jesus.
In addition to these examples, there are also instances where people worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:17; Luke 24:52). The Bible is clear that we are supposed to worship Christ, for this is right and gives glory to the Father. If it is right to worship Jesus as God, then it would seem strange to say that it is incorrect to pray to Him as God. Further, Jesus invites us into a personal relationship with Him, and to say we cannot pray to Him would be like saying we cannot communicate with Him in a personal way.
Praying to the Spirit
But now what about the Holy Spirit? I said above that there are no recorded prayers addressed to the Spirit. So is it right to pray to Him directly? To start with, I want to point out that while there are no passages that record prayers directed to the Spirit, there are no passages prohibiting prayer to Him either. However, that alone does not seem to be a good enough reason.
I would give this question an answer similar to the previous one. Because the Holy Spirit is fully God, He is worthy of worship just as God the Father and God the Son are. He is powerful to answer prayer and is a Person that we can relate to. To say that we cannot pray to the Spirit would be to say that we should not seek to engage Him personally, which doesn’t seem right. Also, the Word of God is clear that the Holy Spirit relates to us in a personal way, describing Him as a “Helper” (John 14:16, 26), believers “know him” (John 14:17), He teaches and guides us (John 14:26, 16:13), bears witness to us (Romans 8:16), and we can grieve Him by our sin (Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit also has personal will, as He is the One Who gives spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:6, 11).
So, it seems appropriate to pray to the Holy Spirit. I would think that it is especially appropriate to pray to the Spirit concerning His specific areas of ministry and function.
With all of this in mind, I still want to note that I think it is good to keep with the New Testament pattern and direct most prayer to God the Father. Because this is the pattern in the Bible, I believe that it is what’s healthiest for our prayers. However, there is nothing wrong with praying to the Son or the Spirit. I hope this helped.