Why We Do Not Say Heavenly Father, and Why We Do Not Pray to the Holy Ghost

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
I AM pleased to see that you thought my remarks on the Father worth reading to your circle.
The Lord Jesus in His valedictory address uses the word Father more times than it occurs elsewhere in the whole of the Gospels; perhaps oftener than it is used in the New Testament; but this I have not verified. If you begin at John 13 and underline the word Father on to the end of chapter 17. you will be surprised to find how very frequently the word occurs. When our earth passes through a part of her annual journey round the sun, she comes into a sphere bright with the constant darting of spots of light—the region of the shooting stars—they are there in great abundance, and not clustered together in any other part of its course: so we find this portion of John's Gospel specially bright with the clustered frequency of the word " Father." The Lord is introducing “his own” to the Father who had given them: and in chapter 17. He addresses the Father about them, committing them to the Father's care since he cannot remain longer with them to shield them beneath His sheltering wing. When it is the Son and the Father He simply says—" Father." When He commits the disciples to Him in the midst of evil he says, "Holy Father;” and when He casts a glance at the world that Had refused Him—and hated both Him and His Father; he says, "O Righteous Father, the world hath not known Thee, but I have known Thee." Why not say, " Heavenly Father," here? Because in John's Gospel he is the Only Begotten. Son, who is in the bosom of the Father: consequently he could say, as Incarnate, “The Son of man who is in heaven." It is the Son and the Father in John: in Mathew it is Jehovah and Jesus, presenting Himself as Messiah, according to the Old Testament prophecies having been born King of the Jews in Bethlehem and among the people in the land of Israel, he says," My Father, who is in heaven," " my heavenly Father." Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up." Here we have distance and earth as his sphere—" the land of Israel " all so different from " the Son of Man, who is in heaven" in John. We are not standing in the Jewish position of servant, son, and subject—distance: but we, as believers in the Son, are made nigh through the blood of Christ—for by Him we have access by one Spirit to the Father.' We have now the same position as we have the same nature as the glorified Son of God, and he has ascended to His God and Father, and by grace we who believe in Him are brought to God our Father in Christ where He is in the heavenlies: so being in conscious relationship to the Father the Spirit of adoption giving us a sense of His love and our nearness to Him being in the light, as He is in the light, in fellowship with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, we do not say " heavenly Father," but simply " Abba, Father;" for being in the enjoyment of the filial relationship, and being in the Spirit, and to faith "in the heavenlies in Christ " we are where the Father is, Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God. " Beloved, now are we the children of God." In the presence of our God and Father in Christ we could not say heavenly Father, as if there were all the distance between earth and heaven between us.
My children do not address me as at a distance, but simply say " father," for they are with me under the same roof in this city; but if they were in a foreign land it would not be improper for one of them to write and use the name of the city in connection with the word father. “We have the spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba, Father."
As to the Holy Ghost, He is never the object of prayer, but is always spoken of in the Word as the medium and power of prayer, praise and fellowship, as also of suffering and service. Yet in hymns we find Him addressed as the object of prayer. If this be right in the Christian dispensation, why is there no instance of this in the Christian Scriptures? Because He is here and in the saints—" The Spirit is life: " He identifies Himself with the saints, and is the divine source, energy, originator, and power of their spiritual thoughts, affections, feelings, and emotions. Then, "praying in the Holy Ghost " is, " according to the Scriptures," not praying to the Holy Ghost. Adoringly do I own the Holy Spirit as one by the persons in the God-head, and when I pray to God of course it is as Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but then this is in regard to Godhead. But when it is the several persons in the Godhead in connection with the work of redemption and the church, we never find any example of prayer to the Holy Ghost, nor any injunction to pray to the Holy Spirit. He is in us: “What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which ye have of God?“ “The love of God is shed abroad. in our hearts by the holy Ghost given unto us." Strengthened by the Spirit he causes Christ to dwell in the heart by faith, and seeing that he now characterizes the new life which He imparts; we never find that He in us is the object of address in praise, prayer, or worship, for this would lead to pray to a power in ourselves: for morally He is identified with the new. life in Christ (Rom. 8) Though clearly seen, even there, as distinct from the believer, He is not only a living force within us, but the living God as well. Hence there is a moral propriety in not praying to the Holy Ghost: but what commands our faith and practice is that in the Christian Scriptures there is neither precept nor example for praying to the Holy Ghost, and yet we find. this done both in prayer-meetings and hymns by unintelligent saints and poets. But Scripture is wiser than our hymn-writers: and it never tells us to invoke the Holy Ghost. " But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, PRAYING IN THE HOLY GHOST, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord. Jesus Christ unto Eternal life (Jude 2020But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, (Jude 20), 21).