In 3 Nephi 19, we read that some Nephites prayed to Jesus. Is it proper to pray to him?
, seminary teacher, Midnapore, Alberta.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave specific instructions about whom we should pray to: “Our Father which art in heaven.” (See Matt. 6:5–13.) He gave similar instructions to the Nephites. (See 3 Ne. 13:5–13.) The Father’s name is hallowed. It is to him that we should pray, asking that his will be done. During his ministry, both in the Old World and in the New, Jesus, our exemplar, always prayed to the Father. In 3 Nephi, chapter 19, however, we read that Jesus’ disciples prayed directly to him. (See 3 Ne. 19:18, 24–25, 30.) Perhaps the key to this unusual behavior is found in verse 22, where Jesus explains that “they pray unto me because I am with them.” (Italics added.) Jesus made this comment while praying to the Father for the welfare of his disciples. (See 3 Ne. 19:19–23.)
Apparently, while he was in their presence, praying to him was acceptable.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie clearly explained what our relationship with each member of the Godhead should be, pointing out that some misguided members of the Church may “begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed” with him. This is wrong, said Elder McConkie. We should pray directly to the Father, and he will answer our prayers as he sees fit. We should not select one member of the Godhead for a special relationship. Elder McConkie also pointed out that we should have reverence for all the members of the Godhead. (See “Our Relationship with the Lord,” in Brigham Young University 1981–82 Fireside and Devotional Speeches, Provo: Brigham Young University, 1982, pages 97–103.)
Likewise, we do not pray to the Holy Ghost, even though we may pray for specific gifts of the Holy Ghost—such as the gifts of tongues, comfort, knowledge, or remembrance. We should always pray to the Father. He is the Director, the Supreme Being, the Ultimate Power.
As we think about our relationship with Christ and our prayers to the Father, it may be helpful for us to think about our premortal life. The Father’s plan was presented for our sustaining vote. Lucifer wanted the power and glory for himself, but Christ, in his wisdom and humility, realized that the honor and glory should go to the Father. For this reason, he said, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven.” (Luke 11:2.)