why do we ask saints to pray for us
n the comments, a Protestant reader (Zack) recently asked this question about prayers to saints:
I know my family and friends understand what I am asking because they can acknowledge that to me. Can you claim the same thing when you pray to Mary or a saint? How do you know specifically that they have heard your plea and can do something about it? Here s the answer. First, Mary and the saints are more alive and more holy than our family and friends. To refer to them as dead is not at all true. They are more alive in Christ now than even the holiest person on earth. БHe is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You therefore do greatly err. Б (Mark 12:27, D-R) Second, Mary and the saints are experiencing the beatific vision of the Divine Essence. When one experiences the vision of God, he or she can see in God and thus the saints in Heaven are more keenly aware of the happenings on earth than we are here on earth. They continue to love us and care for us. God has chosen that the economy of salvation be extended by means of humans. For example, Jesus doesn t go straight to China He sends missionaries and works through them.
The ministry of prayer can work the same way. We can speak directly to Christ, but He also desires that we pray for one another. That reality doesn t cease for those in Heaven. The saints in Heaven continue to serve as a kingdom of priests and as priests they pray for us who are still in battle on earth. When I ask the Blessed Virgin Mary or Paul to pray for me or help me I don t expect that my request terminates in them, but rather the prayer is heard and fulfilled through Christ, in Christ, and with Christ. ad Jesum per Mariam, (This was originally shared on, 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 Бunbiblical,Б 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 heavenly 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 angel s hand.
Revelation 8:3-4 The word for saints in that passage comes from the Greek word hagios. Thayer s 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. He s playing music anyway, so what is the harm in asking him to play your favorite song? Here s 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. Revelation 6:9-11.
The martyrs can talk to God. From those three passages, we can gather that the saints in Heaven interact with God. Luke 15:10. 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 eventsб (and can therefore hear us), why wouldnБt they pray for us, considering that it is good for Christians (which the angels and saints definitely are) to pray for one another? Revelation 21:27. б Nothing imperfect will enter into Heaven. Psalm 66:18 James 5:16. б 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 that s 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. ) Please БFollowБ, БLikeБ, Add to your Circles on Google+, and БSubscribeБ to.
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