Some Christians wonder if we should pray to and worship the Holy Spirit. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity teaches that one God eternally exists in a unity of being as three persons. Because the Holy Spirit is God, it’s right and appropriate that we not only pray to him, but honour him as God. Objections to worship the Holy Spirit sometimes arise from misunderstanding of his identity. There was an interesting dispute over worship of the Holy Spirit in the fourth century. In his book, On the Holy Spirit, Basil of Caesarea tells us that there were two liturgies that were used in his church. The first liturgy was praise to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit. A second liturgy was praise to the Father, with the Son, together with the Spirit. Some who were Arian in orientation objected to this liturgy because they really didn’t believe the Holy Spirit was divine. But if, as Scripture teaches, we have good reason to believe that the Holy Spirit is divine, then it’s appropriate that we express to him in worship, doxology, and praise his true nature.
If we believe that the Holy Spirit is divine, the third person of the Trinity, then acknowledging the divinity of the Holy Spirit is truly important in our worship. Now unfortunately, much of our worship is often directed solely toward Jesus. We praise Jesus for what he has done. We thank Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, and in doing that we forget that the one who brings the life of Christ to us is not the second person the Trinity. The One who brings the life of Christ to us, the benefits of his death, his passion, his resurrection, the reality of his ascended glory, is the Holy Spirit. In that regard then, our worship should be careful always to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit is the one through whom the Father and the Son bring the church to life, through whom the Father and the Son carry us in the midst of history to the culmination of the new heaven and the new earth.
Now, practically speaking I think it works out in this way as we’re choosing songs. From time to time we need to have songs that sing of the glory of the Holy Spirit. When we have affirmations or liturgies in which we have a litany of praise, we need to have portions of the litany, which lift the glory of the Holy Spirit along with that of the Father and the Son. When it comes to praying I think there’s a certain formula that we could learn to employ, at the beginning or the ending of our prayers in which we would say, that we pray these things dear Father in the name of your Son Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit who makes us alive unto you. In doing that we form this Trinitarian focus in our worship, so that we continually are able to meditate on the mystery of God, but also acknowledge the true and rightful divinity and worthy-of-worship nature of the Holy Spirit.
The divinity of the Holy Spirit impacts our prayers in the sense that he is God, and since he is God he can be rightfully addressed in prayer. When we begin our prayers with praise, he should be acknowledged. We praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Holy Spirit because he’s the one who produces the character of Christ in us when we pray prayers of confession, confessing our weakness and inability to live up to who Christ is and what he wants of us. The Holy Spirit is the one who, by the fruits, reproduces who Christ is in us, and so we think of him and ask him to make us reflect more and more Christ. He is the tutor of the church and of each individual believer. He is the teacher, and so we call upon him and say, “Lord, teach me.” And when we say, “Lord teach me,” we are addressing the Holy Spirit. Christ’s teaching is encoded in the Scriptures, but the Holy Spirit is the one who makes those teachings personal to us.
So, in individual worship he is very much central, and in the worship of the church it is the Holy Spirit who incorporates individual believers collectively into the body of Christ. And so, he should be honored and extolled as we meet in local congregations since he is the one who bonds us together in unity as believers and makes us the church, the body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Paul said that the church is the temple of the Holy Spirit. So, he should be acknowledged and praised centrally as we worship individually and corporately.
The Holy Spirit is essential to the life of every Christian. Although the Apostles’ Creed only mentions him briefly, the Creed still indicates the Holy Spirit’s power and divinity. And as believers, we’re free to acknowledge him in our worship and prayers. He lives in us, giving us comfort, support, and spiritual gifts. And he empowers us to serve God faithfully. We can be confident that through his illumination and inward leading, the Holy Spirit will guide us to live lives worthy of our calling.
Hello from the UK
Thank you for your post. You make some very relevant points.
However, you have made a fundamental flaw in overlooking Jesus’s clear teaching in the matter and His example. This is in what is called the Lord’s prayer. Jesus says pray in this way. ‘Our Father in heaven….’ When He is recorded as praying He speaks to the Father. This is how followers of Christ should approach God, following Jesus’s example.
We can talk and listen to Jesus and thank the Holy Spirit who comforts and strengthens us. We can and should thank the angels seen and unseen who help us every day.
But those who follow Jesus Christ should speak and listen to the Father. That is their right as children of God. We are not commanded to pray to the Holy Spirit, so we should not.
As to the ridiculous notion of a formula for prayer, come now. The Lord God is not interested in formulas only in love. Indeed the scriptures state quite plainly
Jesus declared, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
The word love is ‘agapaó’ in Greek, a jaw dropping, sacrificial love. These two commandments do not talk about worship but love.
Love includes thanks of course, but above all the heavenly Father wants His children to come to Him so that they can walk and talk together.
And that has no formula, as the door to the Father is always open. And that door is His Son Jesus.
Please excuse the nom-de-plume, this is as much for fun as a riddle for people to solve if they wish.
So how would you reconcile this:
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
In addition – the prescription is not pray to three gods? That is not the Trinity but praying in understanding to the economy of the Trinity.
Where you get your prayer bases for angels ?