In Matthew 6:9-13 we have what has commonly been called “The Lord’s Prayer.” This prayer has been recited in churches for hundreds of years and in many cases it is done mechanically without any conviction. The subject of prayer actually began in verses 5-6 where the Lord exhorted His disciples with these words, “When you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, PRAY TO YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN THE SECRET PLACE; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” The hypocrite prays to “be seen of men,” but the true believer longs to pray to their heavenly Father “who sees in secret.” The next verse is equally instructive, for it says, “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Our heavenly Father surely wants to hear from us, but He is NOT interested in long prayers that are said mechanically from memory. He wants us to pray from our hearts, even if our words are few.

In the so-called Lord’s Prayer, the Lord Jesus did teach us (as He did in the verses above) to pray to the Father. Verse 9 reads, “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” As true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have become children of God and God is now our Father and we gladly acknowledge that by addressing Him in prayer. Romans 8:15-16 states, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears with witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” So, the Holy Spirit also teaches us to pray by crying out, “Abba, Father.”

There is another truth in connection with prayer that the Lord Jesus taught. In addition to addressing our prayers to God the Father, our prayers are to be offered to the Father “in Jesus’ name.” In John 16 the Lord informed His disciples that He was about to return to the Father in heaven. In view of His departure He told them in verse 23-24, “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ASK THE FATHER IN MY NAME He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. As, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” He was repeating what He had already said in John 15:16, “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” What do the words “in My name” imply? I believe He was teaching them (and us) that the Father will grant our requests “for Jesus’ sake.” This means that when we pray to the Father in Jesus’ name we are praying “as Jesus would pray,” which will be according to God’s will and thus for His glory. Our heavenly Father delights to grant us our requests when it is to accomplish His will and to bring glory to His name. But we must be on guard so that we don’t use the words “in Jesus’ name” as a magical formula at the end of our prayer; our prayers must be heartfelt and we must be walking in obedience to God in order to be truly praying “in Jesus’ name.”

You had asked, “Do we pray to God the Father FIRST, THEN to Jesus?” I can’t think of any example in Scripture where one prayed to the Father and then to Jesus. But this does NOT mean we can’t pray to Jesus directly. You may recall the prayer of the martyr Stephen in Acts 7:59-60. As he was breathing his last breath he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” and then he “cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin’.” Though most prayer will be directed to God the Father, we have perfect liberty to address the Lord Jesus directly in prayer. (245.7) (DO)