“Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 19:18—Why Do the Disciples Pray to Jesus instead of God the Father?”
The Book of Mormon teaches more than once that we need to ask the Father, in the name of Jesus, for the things that we need (references at end of article).
Yet we see in a supreme example, so to say, that the twelve disciples pray to Jesus:
3 Nephi 19:13 And it came to pass when they were all baptized and had come up out of the water, the Holy Ghost did fall upon them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
3 Nephi 19:14 And behold, they were encircled about as if it were by fire; and it came down from heaven, and the multitude did witness it, and did bear record; and angels did come down out of heaven and did minister unto them.
3 Nephi 19:15 And it came to pass that while the angels were ministering unto the disciples, behold, Jesus came and stood in the midst and ministered unto them.
3 Nephi 19:16 And it came to pass that he spake unto the multitude, and commanded them that they should kneel down again upon the earth, and also that his disciples should kneel down upon the earth.
3 Nephi 19:17 And it came to pass that when they had all knelt down upon the earth, he commanded his disciples that they should pray.
3 Nephi 19:18 And behold, they began to pray; and *they did pray unto Jesus*, calling him their Lord and their God.
So, what happened??
First of all, note that the disciples had just been filled with the Holy Ghost and had the ministering of angels.
Then, note that there is no rebuke or even correction from Jesus:
3 Nephi 19:19 And it came to pass that Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth, and he said:
Jesus actually confirms the relationship between the disciples’ prayer and the Holy Ghost and the disciples’ belief in Jesus (as Savior):
3 Nephi 19:20 Father, I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world.
3 Nephi 19:22 Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.
Their prayer purifies them even further, and Jesus once more testifies of their faith in Him:
3 Nephi 19:24 And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.
3 Nephi 19:25 And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.
3 Nephi 19:26 And Jesus said unto them: Pray on; nevertheless they did not cease to pray.
3 Nephi 19:27 And he turned from them again, and went a little way off and bowed himself to the earth; and he prayed again unto the Father, saying:
3 Nephi 19:28 Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me.
3 Nephi 19:29 Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them.
3 Nephi 19:30 And when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again; and behold they were white, even as Jesus.
3 Nephi 19:31 And it came to pass that he went again a little way off and prayed unto the Father;
3 Nephi 19:32 And tongue cannot speak the words which he prayed, neither can be written by man the words which he prayed.
3 Nephi 19:33 And the multitude did hear and do bear record; and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed.
3 Nephi 19:34 Nevertheless, so great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written, neither can they be uttered by man.
3 Nephi 19:35 And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying he came again to the disciples, and said unto them: So great faith have I never seen among all the Jews; wherefore I could not show unto them so great miracles, because of their unbelief.
One of the points of the unbelieving Jews was they proclaimed to believe in God more than anyone, but rejected Jesus more than anyone. This was the reason for their great curse and scattering.
Even the believing Jews had a hard time accepting that he was more than a teacher or someone sent from God whose teachings had to be accepted to gain eternal life.
The purpose of the Holy Ghost is mainly to testify of two personages: God the Father and God the Son, or Jesus Christ (2 Nephi 31:18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received *the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son*, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.).
The culmination of the disciples’ faith in Jesus Christ, gained through faith and obedience, their experiences with Jesus, the gift and the receiving of the Holy Ghost, the ministering of angels, and appearance of Jesus, resulted in a certain spiritual knowledge that Jesus Christ the Savior was God, perfected now in all ways, one with the Father and the Holy Ghost. This prayer to Jesus was a testimony of that knowledge.
Here are some references to praying to the Father in the Name of Jesus:
2 Nephi 25:16 And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind–and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things.
2 Nephi 32:9 But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul.
2 Nephi 33:12 And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day.
Jacob 4:5 Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.
3 Nephi 16:4 And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.
3 Nephi 17:3 Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.
3 Nephi 18:19 Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
3 Nephi 18:20 And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
3 Nephi 18:21 Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.
3 Nephi 18:22 And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;
3 Nephi 18:23 But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.
3 Nephi 18:30 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.
3 Nephi 19:6 And the twelve did teach the multitude; and behold, they did cause that the multitude should kneel down upon the face of the earth, and should pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus.
3 Nephi 19:7 And the disciples did pray unto the Father also in the name of Jesus. And it came to pass that they arose and ministered unto the people.
3 Nephi 19:8 And when they had ministered those same words which Jesus had spoken–nothing varying from the words which Jesus had spoken–behold, they knelt again and prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus.
3 Nephi 20:31 And they shall believe in me, that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name.
3 Nephi 21:27 Yea, the work shall commence among all the dispersed of my people, with the Father to prepare the way whereby they may come unto me, that they may call on the Father in my name.
3 Nephi 27:7 Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake.
3 Nephi 27:9 Verily I say unto you, that ye are built upon my gospel; therefore ye shall call whatsoever things ye do call, in my name; therefore if ye call upon the Father, for the church, if it be in my name the Father will hear you;
3 Nephi 27:28 And now I go unto the Father. And verily I say unto you, whatsoever things ye shall ask the Father in my name shall be given unto you.
Ether 4:15 Behold, when ye shall rend that veil of unbelief which doth cause you to remain in your awful state of wickedness, and hardness of heart, and blindness of mind, then shall the great and marvelous things which have been hid up from the foundation of the world from you–yea, when ye shall call upon the Father in my name, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then shall ye know that the Father hath remembered the covenant which he made unto your fathers, O house of Israel.
Moroni 2:2 And he called them by name, saying: Ye shall call on the Father in my name, in mighty prayer; and after ye have done this ye shall have power that to him upon whom ye shall lay your hands, ye shall give the Holy Ghost; and in my name shall ye give it, for thus do mine apostles.
Moroni 7:26 And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.