Skip to comments.It’s Biblical to Ask Saints to Pray for Us
Posted on 09/15/2013 1:37:28 PM PDT by matthewrobertolson
(This was originally shared here on AnsweringProtestants.com, as part of a longer post.)
There is nothing wrong with asking the heavenly saints to pray for us.
Many Protestants argue that asking the saints to pray for us is unbiblical, while throwing around verses like 1 Timothy 2:5. But they are incorrect.
1 Timothy 2:5 the infamous one mediator between God and men verse refers to salvation, not prayer. The verse reminds us that it is only because of the graces found through Christ (God Himself) that we are able to have any real relationship with God and reach Heaven. It does not, however, absolutely negate relations with angels or heavenly saints. After all, it was an angel (Gabriel) that spoke to Mary before Christ was conceived in her body, not God Himself.
I was raised in several Protestant denominations. They all placed a major emphasis on Christians praying for each other which is encouraged in 1 Timothy 2:1-4 and other passages. I would contend that a saint, one who is holy and in Heaven with God, would have a lot more sway with God than a rebellious sinner on earth would.
To put that another way, if someone asked you to do something for them, would you not be more likely to help them if they were your best friend, as opposed to a complete stranger? Of course, you may very well be willing to do something for a complete stranger, but you would probably be more willing to do something for your best friend.
And there is evidence in the Bible of the saints praying to God.
Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angels hand. Revelation 8:3-4
The word for saints in that passage comes from the Greek word hagios. Thayers New Testament Greek-English Lexicon says that the best definition of hagios is most holy thing, a saint. This would seem to undermine the Protestant assertion that saints in this context can only refer to people on earth.
Now, what would the saints be praying for? Themselves? Doubtful. They are in Heaven, so they do not need anything, as eternal life with God is perfect. That really only leaves one option: they are praying for us. And because they are praying for us anyway, how could it be wrong to ask them to pray for us about something specific? It is like interacting with a DJ at an event. Hes playing music anyway, so what is the harm in asking him to play your favorite song?
Heres my Scripture-based defense of the practice that should answer most Protestant objections:
Matthew 17:3-4 & Luke 9:28-31.
Moses and Elijah (who are clearly heavenly saints, not saints in the way Paul would sometimes use the word) are with Christ during the Transfiguration.
The martyrs can talk to God.
From those three passages, we can gather that the saints in Heaven interact with God.
The angels and saints (who, in Luke 20:35-36, Christ says are equal to the angels) are aware of earthly events.
1 Timothy 2:1 & James 5:16.
It is good for Christians to pray for one another.
Now, if the saints interact with God and are aware of earthly events (and can therefore hear us), why wouldnt they pray for us, considering that it is good for Christians (which the angels and saints definitely are) to pray for one another?
Nothing imperfect will enter into Heaven.
Psalm 66:18 & James 5:16.
God ignores the prayers of the wicked, and the prayers of the righteous are effective.
Because the saints have reached perfection (they are in Heaven), their prayers are more effective than the prayers of those that are less righteous, so thats why one might ask them to pray instead of asking another Christian on earth or simply doing it themselves.
(All verses are from the NASB translation.)
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Is it Biblical for men to raise another man to be a Saint?
if we determine that ‘saints’ means dead Christians despite the way Paul uses it (in scripture)
and we see that they pray to God
and we impose upon them what they are praying about
we can therefore claim it is scriptural to pray TO them
i see that
since a saint is someone known to be in Heaven, of course it’s not possible for a man to raise a soul to saint status
A few flaws in your logic -- you can't impose what they pray about, you can't force them to your will. Even if it were possible, they cannot answer prayers by their own power, merely pass them on to God. So how would it make sense to pray TO them, when they have no personal ability to answer prayers?
Is the saint acting as an intermediary between us and Jesus or does one asks for a saint’s intercessory prayers on our behalf and vice versa?
Of course not, driftdiver. But it is certainly acceptable to recognize someone’s virtuous earthly life, in this case via the process of canonization.
Since certain men claim to "know" that someone enters Heaven, driftdiver's question is all the more pertinent.
Aren’t there any saints on earth?
>>1 Timothy 2:5 the infamous one mediator between God and men verse refers to salvation, not prayer.
OK, but that doesn’t tell me to NOT pray to the Father in Jesus’ name either. We have the Holy Spirit living inside us, and that connects us directly to the Father through Jesus. What is the value of praying to dead humans when I have a direct line to a living and true God?
Arent there any saints on earth?
by the grace of God, there are
We talk to God and ask for things in Jesus’ name; we do not talk to the dead. That is not biblical unless one twists its words.
only for those who chose to ignore God’s miracles. Which makes nothing but sense for a Christian, because The Lord never utilizes miracles. You are so very right, thanks for your input.
Good question, madameguinot. One would ask for a saint’s intercessory prayers on his/her behalf or on behalf of someone else. The saints’ intercessions, however, are no replacement for a personal relationship with God. Oftentimes, though, we can get closer to Him through the heavenly saints.
ever hear of the eternal soul? It’s kinda the whole point of everything. Too much necrophilia in these threads.
I answered that in the post.
“Because the saints have reached perfection (they are in Heaven), their prayers are more effective than the prayers of those that are less righteous, so thats why one might ask them to pray instead of asking another Christian on earth or simply doing it themselves.”
“Too much necrophilia in these threads.”
Yeah- we protestants are way too into relics and prayers to the dead and stuff.
great acknowledgement of the eternal soul there
Any essay that starts out by describing a Biblical, apostolical passage as “infamous” loses me right away.
First, God is of the living, not of the dead.
“Now He is not the God of the dead but of the living; for all live to Him.” - Luke 20:38 (NASB)
Second, how do you know that I’m “twisting [the] words” of the Bible? How is your interpretation any better than the traditional Christian position that’s been around for about 2,000 years? Unless you can definitively disprove my position, please refrain from saying that it is “not biblical.”
The passage itself is not “infamous,” but the way Protestants frequently use it (at least in this context) certainly is.
*So the soul is eternal. The heavenly saints are alive and conscious.
Unless you can definitively disprove my position, please refrain from saying that it is not biblical.
so- praying to maple syrup is Biblical?
you can’t disprove it
one does not have to disprove an assertion to say it is extra or contra Biblical
and theses assertions only go back 17-1800 years
they are referenced in some of the ‘church father’s’ writings- not scripture
I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use strawmen. Your use of them helps no one. Obviously, I am not proposing that we all pray to maple syrup.
When I asked the commenter to “definitively disprove my position,” I meant that they should disprove it by proving that it truly is in some way “extra” (which could most easily be done through the traditional, historical testimony, if my position were somehow indeed false) or “contra” (which could be done simply by using the Bible itself).
Catholic response: They're not dead.
Catholics don't care enough about the bible to discuss whether RC beliefs are biblical or not.
here’s a recap of your argument which you ignored
hence the strawmen
if we determine that saints means dead Christians despite the way Paul uses it (in scripture)
and we see that they pray to God
and we impose upon them what they are praying about
we can therefore claim it is scriptural to pray TO them
that’s extra and contra scriptural
and i didn’t even mention maple syrup
Discussed a hundred times on FR.
Not commanded in Holy Scripture
Not shown in Holy Scripture
Not taught in Holy Scripture
Not recorded at time of Apostles anywhere
Not seen in secular sources at time
Not recorded in sacred art at time
Hundreds of years later, this pagan custom emerges.
The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.
I will not refrain. Your premise is bunk. We do not pray to dead Christians. Sorry if you disagree.
1. That’s a semantic argument. You’re just nit-picking about the usual word choice. They are “saints” because they are in the Communion of Saints — which includes both the earthly and the heavenly.
2. It’s clear that they do, if you look at everything in context. They are in awe of God, and constantly pray to and give honor to Him.
3. We’re not “imposing” on them. They’re already praying, anyway. If you were sitting in a room, praying, and someone came in and asked you to pray for them, would you refuse their request? I would think not, and I don’t think the saints would, either.
Gandhi is a saint in the Catholic church. Saw a painting of him posted on the wall in the main sanctuary of one a long time ago.
Mk 9:4 - Jesus seen
conversing with Elijah & Moses
Lk 9:31 - Elijah & Moses aware of earthly events
Rev 6:9-11 - martyrs under
altar want earthly vindication
Heb 12:1 - we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses
Lk 16:19-30 - departed rich
man intercedes for brothers
Rev 20:4 - saw the souls of
those who had been beheaded
Wis 3:1-6 - the souls of the just are in the hand of God
2Macc 15:7-16 the departed Onias & Jeremiah pray for the Jews
Jas 5:16 Prayers of righteous man
1 Cor. 13:12 - I shall
1 John 4: 20-21 whoever loves God must love his brother
1Tim 2:1-7 - offer prayers, petitions for all men
That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. May God bless you! :)
Prayer is the highest form of worship and nobody, deserves worship but God alone.
I cannot recall anyone claiming to be a Chriatian ever referring to a scripture verse as “infamous” before.
Where is the verse which says believers can pray to saints???
the verses cited don’t back up the thread claim.
You have to imply they do.
Is God too busy to hear all our prayers that He has to delegate that out?G-d too busy? Yes, I think maybe He is...
>>I answered that in the post.
>>Because the saints have reached perfection (they are in Heaven), their prayers are more effective than the prayers of those that are less righteous, so thats why one might ask them to pray instead of asking another Christian on earth or simply doing it themselves.
They may have reached perfection, but they fall far short of omniscience. If a perfect Jesus Christ, who is part of God cannot answer my prayers, then why would St. Someone be able to answer them?
Furthermore, God knows that we are not perfect, yet Jesus tells us to pray to the Father. Was Jesus mistaken? Should prayers really be handled with an eye towards “process improvement” as you claim? As a member of the “holy priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), are my prayers really so meaningless to God that I would need an intercessor other than my High Priest?
Luke 15:10 says that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” So, obviously, the angels know what’s going on here on earth.
Luke 20:35-36 teaches us that those that are “[resurrected] from the dead” (aka those that reach Heaven) “are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” This indicates that the angels and heavenly saints are generally equal. So, it seems that Luke 15:10 would also apply to the heavenly saints.
As for your examples...
James says to call on elders to pray because we need all the prayers that we can get, especially when we are sick and in danger of “death” (I put “death” in parentheses because our souls are eternal; it’s an important point in this context, and I want to be careful on this thread).
Jesus taught us the Our Father because it’s a great standard prayer and because it contains some good basic theology about our relationship with God.
At the time of St. Stephen’s death, he probably wasn’t very sure of who was in Heaven and who wasn’t; additionally, he was quite desperate and didn’t have much time to seek anyone else’s help.
Jesus prayed to the Father because that’s the only one He could really pray to — how unbecoming it would be for God-incarnate to request the intercessions of a lower being.
Like I told WilliamIII...
The passage itself is not infamous, but the way Protestants frequently use it (at least in this context) certainly is.
Id appreciate it if you didnt use strawmen. Your use of them helps no one. -BlogpimperMatt
...which could most easily be done through the traditional, historical testimony, if my position were somehow indeed false...BlogpimperMatt
They're dead, Jim.
There is only one Mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ. The author's misquotation and declaration of the Roman error as fact adds nothing to make the point of this diatribe against Christian believers.
What is a Logical Fallacy?
A logical fallacy is, roughly speaking, an error of reasoning. When someone adopts a position, or tries to persuade someone else to adopt a position, based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy. I say roughly speaking because this definition has a few problems, the most important of which are outlined below. Some logical fallacies are more common than others, and so have been named and defined. When people speak of logical fallacies they often mean to refer to this collection of well-known errors of reasoning, rather than to fallacies in the broader, more technical sense given above. ...
Straw Man Fallacy
A straw man argument is one that misrepresents a position in order to make it appear weaker than it actually is, refutes this misrepresentation of the position, and then concludes that the real position has been refuted. This, of course, is a fallacy, because the position that has been claimed to be refuted is different to that which has actually been refuted; the real target of the argument is untouched by it.
The fallacy of equivocation is committed when a term is used in two or more different senses within a single argument. For an argument to work, words must have the same meaning each time they appear in its premises or conclusion. Arguments that switch between different meanings of words equivocate, and so dont work. This is because the change in meaning introduces a change in subject. If the words in the premises and the conclusion mean different things, then the premises and the conclusion are about different things, and so the former cannot support the latter.
Fallacy of Composition
The fallacy of composition is the fallacy of inferring from the fact that every part of a whole has a given property that the whole also has that property. This pattern of argument is the reverse of that of the fallacy of division. It is not always fallacious, but we must be cautious in making inferences of this form. ...
No one goes to the father except through me... said Jesus Christ.
Praying to dead mortal humans is not Christian.
I would certainly ask a Godly person to pray for me, but I would NEVER pray for help or give thanks to anyone else except my Dad in heaven or my King, or the Holy Spirit. NEVER. God receives ALL the glory. Period.
Maybe Jesus has so much paperwork he can’t answer the prayer phone? lolz
Who determined that Saints reached perfection?
Not good enough.
How many Catholic Churches are named after Jesus?