Jesus said, “On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. ‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.”
“On that day” (that is, ‘when you see me again’, after the resurrection) “if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.” He is saying that our prayer should be addressed to the Father, but “in my name”, that is, in the presence of Jesus. This is the pattern of prayer in the Liturgy. The Eucharistic prayer is invariably addressed to the Father, “through him (Jesus), with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.” All our prayer has the pattern of the Trinity stamped on it.
This does not mean that we should never pray to anyone but the Father. In the Catholic tradition we feel free to pray to Jesus, Mary and the saints, but always in the full knowledge that the Father is the ultimate destination of all prayer – just as all streams, even the raindrops running down your window pane, are making their way to the sea.
‘Ask the Father,’ Jesus said. If you put the emphasis on the word ‘ask’, you get words in different languages like pray, pregare, prier, beten – all of which mean ‘ask’. But one of the Irish words for prayer is ‘paidir’, which comes from the Latin ‘Pater noster’ (Our Father). The focus is firmly on the Father.
I once met an elderly lady in the Philippines who made it her apostolate to spread devotion to the Father. Everyone else, she said, has promoters and devotees of all kinds, “but the poor Father is totally neglected already!”
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