For a bit of background, I come from a Protestant background in which it was quite common to pray to the Father and end it in "in Jesus' name we pray."
I remember as a kid praying directly to Jesus, and of course there were people around me who did that, but at some point I began to pray almost exclusively to the Father. I think it had the weird effect of lessening the divinity of Christ in my mind. When I was at a Baptist college the first two years of university, I had a professor say that it's "probably" more proper to pray only to the Father but "in Jesus' name" and I had another friend say the same several years later. All that gives me the feeling that this may be some trend in Protestantism.
It's also cause me to feel some what puzzled by Orthodox prayers. I pray my prayers as they're written but I don't fully understand why we sometimes pray to the Father alone, sometimes to the Son and sometimes to the Holy Spirit. Then at other times we pray to the entire Godhead in the singular. What is the significance of this?
I also wonder about the historical side of it. I've heard or read from several sources that early Christians prayed "to the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit." I think this is even echoed on the orthodoxwiki page on prayer.
Orthodoxy teaches that Jesus, in praying to his Father, prayed for his people, and he is the only competent intercessor for mankind before God. In his resurrected glory, he prays eternally to his Father on behalf of all. In and through Christ, Orthodox Christians become competent to intercede before God. In the name of Jesus, Christians are authorized to pray for each other and for all creation. All prayer is to God the Father, through his Son, in his Holy Spirit, even if not mentioned in the words of the prayer.
In the above quote, what need does the resurrected Christ have to pray to His Father? Don't they already completely know each other? Aren't their wills and essenses the same?
What is the earliest evidence of prayer to Christ and/or the Holy Spirit?
Sorry for all the questions. I'm interested in the theological and historical background to this. It's something that has been in the back of my mind for some time now. Thanks!