Here is a conversation I had with a friend. I have only included those parts of the conversation that are relevant to this topic.
Friend: You said that you wrestled with Jesus over your concern. How? Do you pray to Jesus? Because that is not the example Jesus set for us. Do you pray to Heavenly Father?
Me: Read 3 Nephi 19:18
Friend: Keep reading. What did Jesus do?
Me: Where does it say anything about being evil or wrong to talk to Jesus? I am not understanding your question "What did Jesus do?" Did Jesus tell them not to pray to him? What was the result of their prayer? Do you worship Christ?
Friend: What did Jesus do in 3 Nephi 19: 19-23? He prayed unto the Father. Jesus is the perfect example. That is why I am trying to follow his example. Jesus is our brother, god is our Father. 3 Nephi 18:16.
Where did we get the idea that it is inappropriate to talk to Jesus? Where did we get the idea that Jesus is our older brother? I started asking questions, and this is where it led me.
In 3 Nephi 18:19 Jesus teaches the people “Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;”
Then in 3 Nephi 19:6-7 the twelve teach the multitude the same thing, “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. 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.”
The disciples clearly understood to pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus. So why did they pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God? Why didn't Jesus correct them and say, “Hey wait, pray to the Father not to me.” Not only does Jesus not interrupt their prayer, Jesus is pleased. “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.”
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. 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. And it came to pass that when they had all knelt down upon the earth, he commanded his disciples that they should pray. And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God. 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: 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. Father, I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words. 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. And now Father, I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one. 3 Nephi 19:15-23
It might be said that the only reason they prayed to Jesus is because he was with them, but it can be reasoned that “I am” is another name for God – “I am (God) with them”.
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham, I am. John 8:58
I think the disciples knew who their Father was. We see great and marvelous blessings poured out upon the disciples and the multitude after they pray to Jesus.
Jesus 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. Verily I say unto you, there are none of them that have seen so great things as ye have seen; neither have they heard so great things as ye have heard. 3Nephi 19:35
What distinguished the believers from the unbelievers?
I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness. D&C 93:19
It is important to know how to worship and what we worship. Is the model in 3 Nephi19 the best explanation of how to pray unto the Father in the name of Jesus? How do we come unto Jesus? What does it mean to receive the Son?
No man can come unto me, except he doeth the will of my Father who hath sent me. And this is the will of him who hath sent me, that ye receive the Son; for the Father beareth record of him; and he who receiveth the testimony, and doeth the will of him who sent me, I will raise up in the resurrection of the just. JST, John 6:44
What blessings can come when we understand who we are praying to? What does it mean to call upon the name of the Lord?
And then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord, and the Lord blessed them; Moses 6:4
Why is it the Lord Jesus Christ who grants that their prayers may be answered?
And may the Lord Jesus Christ grant that their prayers may be answered according to their faith; and may God the Father remember the covenant which he hath made with the house of Israel; and may he bless them forever, through faith on the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. Mormon 9:37
Who is the Holy One of Israel? Who is the Lord God?
O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. 2 Nephi 9:41