Prayer Of The Saints

This post is concerning the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of saints in heaven praying to the Father for us upon our request. I want to start this article by explaining the differences between saints on Earth and our responsibility to pray to the Father and the saints who are in heaven with the Father. I believe there is a change of roles once you go to heaven and I’ll out line that later. I also see it as dangerous to attempt contact with anyone deceased whether they are in heaven or in hell. Another problem is how this teaching downplays the weight that your faith backed prayers hold, as long as you have faith your prayer is on equal value as Mary’s faith backed prayers where. God has no favorites. The biggest problem of all is that there is no scriptural foundation for this teaching. Please open your mind and Bible as we look into this subject.

“The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom,41 especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were “put in charge of many things.”42 Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.”
Roman Catholic Catechism # 2683

Saints Alive and Dead

First, I want to point out that saints who are in heaven are much more alive than we are now on Earth, they are in their resurrected bodies (1Cor 15) and are enjoying God’s fullness. However to lessen the confusion in this post I will refer to those saints in heaven as dead saints, they died, were judged, and passed because they were saved by Christ. We however (assuming you are a Christian) are living saints. As I studied this subject on various Catholic sites I discovered an interesting mind set among all of them: Catholic doctrine teaches that dead saints carry the same responsibilities, abilities, and duties as us living saints. This, however I do not agree with. Once Christians die and are in heaven they enjoy God’s fullness and await the Second Coming of Christ where they will return with Him in their resurrected bodies to enter in to yet a third set of responsibilities and duties as they dwell in the New Jerusalem during the millennial reign. However, Catholics uphold that because the New Testament encourages the living saints to pray for other living saints that saints who have passed on to heaven should continue to do the same. This is something I find no where in the Bible.

In the Bible I have yet to find any example of

  • a saint in heaven praying to God
  • a living saint asking a dead saint to pray for them or with them
  • an Apostle or author encouraging their audience to speak to a dead saint

The actual activity of saints in heaven is not very detailed in the Bible so to interject ones own opinions (aka the Catechism) is dangerous. A common error is considering that the angels of God and saints of God (in heaven) do the same stuff. I found many scriptures of angelic activity being mentioned as proof for the Catholic teachings of praying to or through the saints. This simple cannot be done, angels and dead saints have different roles and cannot be held at the same level. Angels are used to deliver messages to man and to report to God, they even travel from heaven to Earth often. However heavenly saints are not ever recorded as having these same duties or abilities. Angels in heaven are active servants of God unto the saints (Heb1:14), however heavenly saints are not. The few mentions in the Bible of contact with the dead are connected to the sin of witchcraft and divination. The one time that a dead saint was reached was when Saul and a witch did a seance, however Samuel who was contacted was in Sheol (not heaven) and he was not happy about what Saul had done (1 Samuel 28:7-19). This contact was a sin in God’s eyes.

Interaction With Dead Saints

The account of Jesus’s transfiguration where Elijah and Moses appear next to Jesus is often cited as some kind of scriptural foundation for saints hearing our prayers and interceding for us. If you simply examine what happened on that mountain you will find the opposite. First of all Elijah and Moses were talking with Christ, they interacted with Him in the supernatural realm openly and did not give attention to Peter, James, or John. Second, when Peter said “…if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” God interrupted Peter’s proposition and reminded them to pay attention to Jesus, His son, and to hear Him. It appeared that Peter wanted to make a tent or tabernacle for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses to dwell there with them but this interaction and glorification of Elijah and Moses was not what God wanted. We should learn from the lives of the saints who went before us, let them be inspiration, and instruction to you as you honor the saints and serve God. However, glorifying, praying to them, or worshiping them is not in God’s will. If we acknowledge any dead saint with any level above that of normal human honor we have begun worshiping them. But as God reminded Peter and the others – Jesus is God’s son whom He is well pleased in, hear Him!

Intercession

Intercession is prayer that one prays on behalf of another person, when you pray protection for your family or that your friend at school would come to God, that is intercession. We can find numerous places throughout the New Testament where we are told to pray for other Christians (1Tim 2:1, Rom 15:30-32, Eph 6:18-20, Col 4:3 etc.). These scriptures are often quoted in Catholic teaching when explaining that “the saints in heaven are simply interceding for us as your friend or pastor would if they prayed for you see these scriptures…” However as explained previously saints in heaven do not pray to God for they are in His full presence and glory, they worship Him and perhaps talk with Him. They do not pray for us, that is our responsibility!

There is a type of intercession that goes on in heaven but it’s not from any heavenly saints, it’s from Christ and the Holy Spirit. Christ makes intercession for us before the Father on behalf of the price He paid that is always enough.
Hebrews 7:25 – Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

The Spirit is also said to make intercession in heaven for us.
Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

So if two thirds of the trinity makes intercession for us isn’t that enough? Why would we rather saints intercede rather than Christ and the Spirit, or why do some think that Christ and The Spirit need help? I’ll go with God’s way rather than man’s.

“The intercession of the saints. Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness. . . . They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus…”
Roman Catholic Catechism # 956

The Power of Our Prayer

Another disturbing thing about the teaching of prayer through the saints is how it unintentionally plays down one’s power of prayer. Think about it: if a Catholic has something to pray about – health, lost keys, tough test etc. who do they go to? They go to the saints because they should be more effective with their prayers right? Wrong.

John 14:13 – “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
John 14:14 – “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

You are made just as righteous, by Jesus’s finished work, as someone in heaven we simply have not put on the incorruptible like them. God does not play favorites with us and thus does not hear or consider the prayers of a canonized saint more than Joe Shmoe who has faith in God as a mustard seed. Imagine someone who takes this doctrine to the next level and always passes off prayers, needs, and concerns off to saints so that they may pray to God for them. In the end – they may not have ever prayed to God their own Father! Because of God’s great work of redemption we can go straight to the Father on Jesus’s righteous merit and ask anything that we need!

Hebrews 4:16 – Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Click here to see an interesting and even entertainingly honest list of Saints and the areas over which they supposedly pray for.

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4 thoughts on “Prayer Of The Saints

  1. Daniel. My man. I only needed to read the first few lines of this article when sent to me. I have not read the rest.

    Why must you persecute the Catholic Church? Are we not all the Body of Christ? Shouldn’t we be working together against the evil one for the salvation of souls? If we could put our efforts together to first help lost, anti-God souls into heaven how much more of God’s work we could accomplish! Let us not take a step back and a step forward but walk in the same direction as He so instructs.

    • Matt, thanks for visiting my site. First of all please read the rest of the post. We all need to challenge our own doctrine with what the Bible says, it’s like a detox for our spirit.

      Second, I am not persecuting the Catholic church or Catholics, I am challenging the theology that the Roman Catholic Church teaches, and for a good reason – some of it does not have scriptural basis. This is what a large chunk of Pauls’ letters were – correction of theology. I know this is not the primary goal of Christian living; saving souls with the true Gospel is primary. But we cannot escape the need for pure and unadulterated theology so that we live our life before God in the truest, simplest way. I feel doctrines such as this one effects the believers prayer life, which is crucial. Cleaning up ones beliefs on the subject rids them of lots of unnecessary chains and weights of religious practices that are not needed, beneficial, or Biblical. Correction in this manner is actually out of love, not out of hate (though some do it out of hate which is wrong, and I don’t feel I am doing that at all). Paul corrected his churches and friends out of love and out of concern for their spiritual well being. I want my Catholic friends and even non Catholics to read this post as well as the one about Mary’s Biblical identity so that they do not pick up unBiblical and unnecessary teachings that can hold you back from full intimacy with God (through prayer in this case).

      Please understand that my aim is to bring our lives back to the Biblical model of Christianity and to Christ in full. I do believe that there is some of the body of Christ in the Catholic population just as I believe the Protestant and even Charismatic branches. Notice I said some, I believe there are a lot of false salvation and fakes out there in any denomination or church. Mostly to blame for this tragedy is false teaching and doctrines of man for these un-Christian church goers. We should work together to save souls and maintain peoples spiritual well being, we do that in person mostly, I doubt my online blog will do much of that (though I won’t limit God’s ability through it). I write on here for my saved friends to continually challenge themselves and their theology so that they will stay before the Word and the Lord without any warped thoughts or theology. Not that I have perfect theology or understanding, but I stay before the Word and always challenging myself as to what is true and what God meant so I write on here when I see if something has enough ground to stand on it’s own and help someone.

      2Ti 3:16 – All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

  2. i thought it would notify me when you reply but it didn’t. you said ” I am challenging the theology that the Roman Catholic Church teaches, and for a good reason – some of it does not have scriptural basis.”

    that is 100% correct. The two pillars of the Catholic Church are equally the Bible and Tradition. There is not one verse in scripture that says we should rely on the Bible alone. In fact, the Bible says that not all things are in the Bible. See jn 21:25. Who knows, John 21:26 could have said – Mary was assumed into heaven! 🙂

    We can hit theological and scriptural points back and forth tirelessly but I think it comes down to two logical points namely, interpretation of scripture and the two pillars i mentioned above. If we cannot agree that the Catholic Church interprets scripture and teachings directly from Jesus through the tradition of the popes by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit then we can go no further.

    thus the two questions remain:
    1.) where does our interpretation of scripture come from
    2.) what, if anything supports sola scriptura?

  3. That explains a lot, thank you for making it clear that the Roman Catholic Church considers traditions of man equivalent to the Word of God. This in my opinion is very dangerous and the source for many extra-Biblical and anti-Biblical theology, but of course you already know that.

    I agree though that we can’t really discuss what is permissible theology or not if I am using one source with contained limitations and you have two sources (Bible+tradition).

    Do you not see any problem with accepting the traditions of “church Fathers” as equal to the Word of God when even you cannot find a scripture or two that could back up their claims? Where did they get the idea from – the Holy Spirit?

    As far as Sola Scripture there are many scriptures that say to not preach a Gospel other than that which was given originally by Paul, and it’s obvious that one should test a new teaching against original scripture. I guess that’s assuming you believe the choosing of books for the current Canon was Spirit guided and final and that there is no new Specific Revelation. Interesting stuff!

    And just for the record John 21:25 says there are things that Jesus did that are not in the Bible, meaning His works only. This does not sound like an open door for extraBiblical beliefs. You might have mentioned John 16:12-13 of which I believe refers to the future letters that were to be written by the Apostles and later to be chosen as Canon.

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