Jesus praying to the father

So tonight I was able to give a response to my Jehovah Witness co-worker who had given me a tract a while back about their belief concerning the Catholic Trinity. I had given it a read and nit-picked at how inaccurate it was, even going as far as to make notations in the tract for reference. By the end, all he could fall back on was the question “If Jesus was God, why did he pray to himself” and “I’m bible only.”

I need to address his question about Jesus praying to himself from a Catholic perspective, but first allow me to give the backstory for your discernment:

I greeted him and informed him that I had read his tract, much to his delight. He was eager to hear my response, naturally. I made my point that I thought the tract had inaccuracies, and upon investigating it’s claims, I discovered that it didn’t have all the facts straight. My second point was that Constantine didn’t preside over Nicea as it had claimed—without getting into specifics. My next point was that the organization of the Watch Tower made claims about prophecy that failed. He tried to dismiss it but I reminded him what the bible teaches about prophets and how they deserve to die if they make failed prophecies. He agreed, and dismissed it all of course, labeling it “The Old Organization.” But they follow the new organization who isn’t based on the errors of a bible study group of the past. Naturally, he made the claim they discuss the bible back and forth and come to new conclusions and that their understanding of bible teaching is progressive and constantly being better understood. I was not impressed and informed him that the organization cannot be trusted.

My third point was that the Early Church Fathers taught that Jesus was YHWH incarnate, that these were the christians that Pagan Rome persecuted before Rome adopted christianity as the state religion, and these were the same christians who are responsible for the very bible, though not the translation, that he uses today.

Naturally, he had very little to say but to fall back on “bible only” and “Why did Jesus pray to himself if he was God” and I could see in his eyes that he was upset and frustrated and I appealed to him to keep an open mind, just as I had done with him, and to hear from the Catholic perspective why they hold that teaching, because after all, it is only fair after hearing his views. He did make the point he is an individual who keeps an open mind. And he left me saying “bible only…bible only”. I’ll see him again, no doubt, and told him I don’t have all the answers and can’t really address his question. I told him Jesus had a human mind and was in submission to the father, but that was about it before he had to go, and appealed to him to hear from an educated catholic perspective on the matter.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I’d like to hear the catholic teaching on why Jesus prayed to God even though he was God in the flesh in order to address his question “Why did Jesus pray to himself if he was god.” Of course, I know Jesus and the father are two different persons, but how do I go about explaining that when he thinks God cannot pray to himself and cannot be more than one person while being the same god.

I’ll need to re-read the Church Fathers from 2nd and 3rd century AD on their teachings about Jesus being God in the flesh, so if anyone can help me save some time by posting quotes, that would be very helpful and I’d appreciate it. This would show him that his tract is in error about the early church fathers not believing that Jesus is YHWH incarnate. Another thing that would be helpful would be verses from the bible (according to catholic faith) that teaches that Jesus is God from both old and new testament and that supports the Trinity belief.

Thanks. I plan to just give him the material and let him make up his own mind, that way I can just avoid a verbal confrontation and any quarreling.

Most of the Jehovahs witness literature attempt to destroy the modalistic understanding of the Trinity. That understanding believes the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are the same person acting in multiple roles.

They have serious trouble producing a simplistic argument to combat the historical Catholic Church (and others) understanding of the Trinity.

So two things from this. They set up a heretical understanding as a straw-man to destroy with a simplistic argument.

Jesus is the second Person of the Trinity, and He was speaking to the first Person of the Trinity, the Father. Is there any reason to believe that the Father and the Son did not speak to one another in heaven before the creation of the World? So, why would they not continue their conversations after the Incarnation?

Your challenge: JW’s deny the trinity, so this is something that they do not accept or understand.

As has been said, the Father and the Son are both fully God, but they are distinct persons within the godhead. Jesus wasn’t praying to himself, but to the Father who eternally begets him.

Jesus was also fully human. We know he had two natures and two wills (the human will obedient to, but not overwhelmed by, the divine will). More than that, it becomes difficult to understand how this played out within the person of Jesus the Nazarene, but remember also that even though we don’t know the full inner going-ons in his head, there is absolutely no contradiction. It’s just what we call a mystery. Anyway, long story short, Jesus in his humanity may also have felt a need for a strong prayer life and communing, in his humanity, with God the Father. He also humbled himself and submitted himself to the law rather than exercising his full equality with God, and his prayer life is a model for us to follow. In his humanity, we know that some things about the divine will did trouble him, such as his upcoming passion(though he was obedient and did not refuse it). Perhaps prayer also helped him in his humanity accept the will of God.

Some of this may go too far in speculation. Just some thoughts.

The Catholic Answers tract, “Divinity of Christ,” has a selection of quotations from the Bible and the Early Church Fathers.

The concept of three divine persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in one divine being is hard to visualize, at least for me. Perhaps the analogy of conjoined human twins (or triplets) could be used to help your JW friend to come to an understanding of the Trinity and how Jesus Christ, a divine person (the Son) with a human nature, might pray through his human nature to another divine person, the Father.

Jesus prayed to the father, in part, to give us an example.

Besides this, the Father and Son love each other. People who love each other like to spend time with each other and speak with each other.


I did some digging and found this:

Three persons, one nature, as explained by Dr David Anders.

You are an individual person with a name. Your friend is another individual person with a name. You both have the nature of a human being.

God the Father has a name, and so does God the Son. Both individuals have the same nature which is God.

Scripture also tells us that Jesus commanded the apostles to baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost. (Matthew 28).

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