First off, I want to thank Faith for requesting that I tackle this question (in Faith’s words):
“On your blog you should explain the difference between Jesus and God… it always confuses me! Are we praying to Jesus or God?”
It’s a great question, and one that I hope to handle with deep respect for the profound mystery that it represents. I’d like to take Faith’s question and broaden it to a discussion on the Trinity.
First off, I want to give a disclaimer. The trinity can’t be explained. It’s far beyond our human mind’s ability to comprehend. But that’s good, because that fact testifies to how mind-blowing God is. I mean, who wants a God that can be explained? If I can explain God, that means I can understand everything about him. If I can understand everything about him, then that means we’re on the same level. And I don’t need or want a God who’s on my level! I need a God far above and beyond where I am! I can trust a God like that!
St. Augustine once said, “…anyone who denies the Trinity is in danger of losing his salvation, and anyone who tries to understand it is in danger of losing his mind.” So true!
But there ARE things that we can grasp.
First off, we believe that our God is ONE God. Read Deuteronomy 6:4. (By contrast, Mormonism teaches that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are 3 gods, not one. Hinduism has over 300 million gods.)
Second, we believe that there are 3 persons that make up the trinity. “Trinity” is literally “tri-unity” and it tells us that there are 3 distinct persons who dwell perfectly together in one God.
The “Triune” God is:
God the Father: The Father points to the Son, Jesus. The Father is fully pleased with Jesus, who is the incarnation of God to mankind. Jesus came to earth to live, die, and be raised again so that all of humanity can be reconciled to God.
God the Son: Jesus came to earth to connect us with the Father. He also came to show us what a holy life in a human life looks like. Jesus is fully God and fully man (known as the “hypostatic union”), another concept beyond human capacity to understand. Jesus departed earth so that the Holy Spirit can come to us.
God the Holy Spirit: The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God alive within us. This is taught in Romans 8 and in other places in Scripture. The Holy Spirit has many roles; teacher, joygiver, convictor, guide, among many others.
I was reading in Genesis yesterday, when God created Adam. Check out Gen. 1:26:
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”
You see that in the same verse is both “singular” (God) and “plural” (our image, our likeness).
Some have tried to analogize the Trinity, explaining it through a shamrock, water, or even an egg. All of these are understandable human concepts trying to grasp a non-understandable spiritual/divine truth. The fact is, the Trinity isn’t “like” anything. And that is why we find it so hard to understand.
So, when we pray (to get more toward Faith’s original question), we pray to God. That’s it. And all three persons of the one God are participating in that conversation. The Bible teaches us that the Holy Spirit helps us pray. The Bible teaches us that God the Son intercedes on our behalf. The Bible teaches us that God the Father hears and answers our prayers according to His “good, acceptable, and perfect will.”
Thanks for the question! It was a good one!