Do you find yourself — or hear others — sometimes praying to the Father, sometimes to the Son, and sometimes to the Holy Spirit? Is it better to pray to one instead of the other? Does it matter? The answer to that last question is, "Maybe not much." But discovering which member of the Trinity we should address in our prayers helps us learn about God and take steps in our own growth.
It's worth mentioning that the word prayer comes from the Latin word from which we also get the word precarious. In other words, we tend to pray when there is unknown situation in front of us, when life is precarious. And we often wonder if anything will change as a result.
As children, when we wanted something in our lives to change, we tended to address the person who had the most power to make that change happen: one of our parents. Throughout Scripture, our relationship with our heavenly Father is described as a parent-child relationship. He wants us to see him as a perfect Father.
The roles of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, while also giving us insight into God's nature, are directed at restoring a relationship between a heavenly Father and his children. But in the end, it's the Father who is the authority, and the Father with whom we have a restored relationship.
So, when Jesus talked about prayer with his disciples, he focused their attention on God the Father:
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name . . . '"
(Matthew 9:6, 9)
So while Jesus and the Holy Spirit are members of the Trinity and just as important as the Father, their primary roles are to make the Father known and show us that we have access to a relationship with him.
If you do occasionally pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit, don't worry about it. The Trinity police won't track you down. I doubt God turns a deaf ear if you're not addressing him as Father. But pointing our prayers to our heavenly Father reminds us of the authority he has, and of a once broken relationship with him that has now been restored through the work of his Son and the power of his Spirit.
If you like to have a discussion in your group about prayer, check out The Prayer Dashboard.