Who was Jesus Praying to?

(John 17:1)

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

The Trinitarian Question

This question always starts out the same way. “If Jesus is the Father, why is he praying to the Father? Is Jesus praying to Jesus?” This is what they ask as they snicker at us “helpless” oneness folks, who can only pray that this cup would pass from us, like Jesus did in the prayer we debate over.

The Trinitarian Dilemma

The thing that a Trinitarian, daring enough to bring up this topic, should always be reminded of is that this prayer that Jesus prayed does not present a problem for oneness theology. However, it presents a major catastrophe for the trinitarian concept of the Godhead from his perspective. Think about it… a co-equal, co-eternal, and co-essential person of the triune God asking for help from His co-existent partner person who he is equal to in every way. In other words, Jesus is saying, “not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42) to a person who has the same will as He does. He is asking a co-omnipotent person, who by definition, has no more power than He has, to help him? He is asking that He could be glorified, concerning the glory that He had with the Father before the world was, when in all actuality they are both together already eternally co-existent? Why is Jesus praying to the Father if they are the same in every way measurable?

Wouldn’t the co-equalness of the two persons make both wills the same? Wouldn’t Jesus’ statement, “Not my will, but thine, be done” actually be more accurate in saying, “Not my will, but thine, which is the same as mine, be done”, making this prayer pointless? Wouldn’t both persons will the same things to take place if they were in perfect tri-unity? Was there a disagreement within the Godhead?

This is an utter contradiction in the scriptures. If the Son, who is equal to the Father as a co-essential person of the Godhead, has the same will as the Father, why is He praying that the Father’s will and not His own be done? The only explanation is that the human will of the man Christ Jesus is in direct subordination to the will of the Father which is Spirit. Christ as a man is in full submission to the will of the Spirit of God, His Father, who dwells inside of Him. The natural will of flesh is to remove itself from pain and anguish. This human will was overcome through prayer and placed in complete subjection to the will of the eternal Spirit of God, which was to save mankind through the atoning death, burial and resurrection of Christ, fulfilling the fore-ordained plan of redemption.

Omnipotent God

The next position that needs to be established is this question. Wouldn’t the omnipotence of two equal persons make Jesus’ power equal to that of the Father? If “God the Son” has the same power, being an equal person of the Godhead, as the Father has, why would Jesus have a necessity to pray to the Father for help? After all, according to the doctrine of the trinity, the Son is equal in every way to the Father, therefore He can do all that the Father can do. Why does the all-powerful person of the Godhead, “God the Son”, need so much help from His equal, the Father? The answer is simple. Jesus is not the second co-equal person of the Godhead. In fact, He is the only person of the Godhead. There are no other “persons”. Jesus said, “My Father is greater than I” (Jn. 14:28). This sure doesn’t sound like equal persons to me. Jesus, because He was a human, was inferior to the Father.

Jesus, as a human, was not omnipresent, omnipotent or omniscient as the Father is. He did not know the end from the beginning (Mt. 24:36) nor was He able to exercise authority in the realm of the spirit except it is for the Father giving Him the authority to do so (Jn. 5:27). He was a human in every sense of the word, subjected to the Father. This is why He prayed for the Father’s help.

Former Glory

Even more interesting is Jesus’ prayer to the Father that He would be glorified again. He asks to be glorified by the Father’s own self, like He was before (Jn. 17:5). The trinitarian position on the Godhead says that all three members of the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are eternally co-existent. They are eternally co-equal persons. This prayer is a major setback to their doctrine.

The first and most obvious question is; why is God the Son asking for glory from the Father? Did He lose His own glory in the transition from heaven to earth? God the Son, according to the trinitarian standpoint, is equal to the Father in every way. The Athanasius Creed says, “There is one glory of the Father, another glory of the Son, and another glory of the Holy Spirit, yet there are not three glories, but one glory.” Why is God the Son asking for the Father’s glory, from His own self, when He has His own glory that is rightfully His? Was He not satisfied with His role in the Godhead? Was His co-equal glory lesser than the Father’s in some way? Was His glory not enough to do the job? Why then did He need the Father, an equal person with the same glory, to glorify Him?

What many trinitarians will say is that there is only one glory, period. The Father and Son share an undivided glory. Well, isn’t that a very contradictory statement? An oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one. Shared, but undivided glory? Seriously? Just to appease the appetite of the hungry trinitarian who only has this on his plate, let’s examine the facts.

If the glory is a shared, yet undivided glory, why then is God the Son not able to take care of this glorification on His own? He shares in this undivided glory, meaning He should have access to it in its fullness. It is undivided, right? Why can’t God the Son be glorified in His own glory? Why must it be the Father whose own self does the glorifying? The problem that they have here is that only one being can possess one glory – If it is truly one glory they believe in that is. Something cannot be shared, yet undivided. The Father alone has glory, and He will not GIVE it to another (Is. 42:8).


Even further into this point we find that Jesus is asking to once again have the glory with the Father that He once had (Jn. 17:5). The immediate question is – did the situation between Father and Son change? Did the two co­existent persons become non co-existent during the time of the Son’s visitation to the earth? Are the two persons immutable? Can God be changed? “For I am the Lord, and I change not…” (Mai. 3:6). According to this scripture from a Trinitarian understanding; the Father and the Son had glory together, but at the point of the incarnation of God the Son in the Son of man, everything changed; and the glory of the second person, God the Son, could no longer have been intertwined with the glory of the first person, God the Father. In this passage, Jesus is praying to have the two glories become one again. Problem is -I thought the two glories were one the whole time? I thought God was immutable and couldn’t change? What I can tell you is the inevitable. This will be chalked up to God’s spiritual infinacy. We just can’t comprehend it because we are finite humans.

They are right when they say there is only one glory. Where they go wrong is in determining who that one glory belongs to. The Father alone has glory (Is. 42:8). He shares it with no one. He alone is God ((Is. 44:8). There is none beside Him (Is. 44:6). The Son has no glory of His own. In fact, He cannot even do any works except it be by the Father that dwells in Him (Jn. 14:10).

Understanding this glory question will go a long way in helping someone understanding the Godhead question. Jesus was asking to be glorified by the Father’s own person because it was unquestionable that the Father was the only one who could glorify Him (Jn. 17:1). Returning unto the former glory that was had since before the world was, is also a very easy understanding. No need to multiply glories. It was the glorious Father who dwelt in the Son (Jn. 14:10). It was not God the Son incarnate in the Son of God. It was the Father, full of glory. Jesus’ prayer simply stated that He wanted to return unto the place where He was not in flesh on this earth anymore. He wanted to be glorified in a spiritual body with no more fleshly pain and agony. He wanted to complete His work as the sacrifice and return to His glorified form.


Truth is, Jesus, is praying, just like anyone else who prays. Jesus is indwelt with the Spirit in a far more complete way than a Christian believer is. For we have been given OF the Spirit in measure (Acts 2:17), but in Jesus dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9). Even with that, we do not believe that Christ is a half-man half-God hybrid. He is 100% God and 100% man. Because He is 100% God, He has the God-authority; because He is 100% man, He has a need to pray. What is the problem with Jesus praying to the Divine Spirit that dwelt fully in Him? We are not saying that Jesus’ human side prayed to His divine side in the sense that Trinitarians accuse us of doing. It is not so much that He prayed from His human side as much as it is He prayed because of His human side. We are saying He prayed because He was a complete human, even though He was indwelt by the Spirit of the Father. The location of the Spirit of God does not determine whether or not a human should pray. It is no different for Jesus, who is fully human, in His human necessity of prayer.

The funny thing is that when the tables are turned on the trinitarians, they use the very same argument to explain why Christ prayed. Why is it alright for Jesus to pray when they need Him to pray, but not when He is praying for the oneness people? In Luke’s account of Jesus’ prayer, he states that an angel came and strengthens Jesus (Lk. 22:43). Why would the almighty God need strength from an angel, whom He created? The trinitarians will quickly refer to the dual nature of Christ to explain this. They will say it was the human side that needed strength. So, let me get this straight. Jesus prayed because of His humanity and God sent an angel to strengthen Him? Isn’t that funny? It is incorrect that He prayed because of humanity, but that same prayer was answered because of humanity?

Next question…

Scripture References

Luke 22:42

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

John 14:28

Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go to the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

Matthew 24:36

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

John 5:27

And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.

Isaiah 42:8

I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Malachi 3:6

For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Isaiah 44:8

Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? Ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me ? Yea, there is no God; I know not any.

Isaiah 44:6

Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and His redeemer the Lord of Hosts; I am the first and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.

John 14:10

Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works.

Acts 2:17

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

Colossians 2:9

For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

Luke 22:43

And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him.

Published by

Dr. Larry L Yates

Dr. Larry L Yates is a Minister, Author and Bible Teacher with Doctorates in Theology, Religion, and Ministry. He is President of Mineola Bible Institute as well as a member of the Board of the International Apostolic University-London, in the UK. He is the author of numerous books on apostolic theology, prayer, and healing.

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