Prayer to Saints is Wrong

Jerry: The body of Christ are to pray together or alone for each other but never to Mary or to the Saints who have gone to Heaven. Only to God the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit.

BFHU: Where does scripture forbid asking Mary and the Saints to intercede for us?

Jerry:

Romans 8:26-27 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

Luke 11:1-4

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2He said to them, “When you pray, say:

” ‘Our Father…”

Acts 4:23-30 shows us that we are to pray to God only.

BFHU: The scripture in Acts 4 is the recounting of the prayers of the Christian community in thanksgiving for the release of Peter and John from prison. It tells us that:

they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said……

But none of these passages forbid the intercessory prayer of the saints in Heaven. This first passage explains that the Spirit will intercede for us when we do not know what we ought to pray for. That is a great comfort of course. The Catholic Church believes this as well. The second passage is a prayer we pray at every single mass. And the third passage is an example of direct prayer to God.

The issue of “praying to Mary and the Saints” is different than what any of these passages address. For Catholics, asking Mary or another Saint to pray for us is basically exactly the same as asking any other Christian to pray for us. It is all simply intercessory prayer. Just as you stated:

“The body of Christ are to pray together or alone for each other…”

Since Mary and the Saints are all a part of the Body of Christ we are asking them to pray together with us as you said. We consider them to be just as much a part of the Body of Christ as they were on Earth. And even more completely alive as they contemplate Our Lord in Heaven. And their love and concern for us is beautiful.

What you may have misunderstood is that “Prayer to Saints” is NOT the same thing as “Prayer to God.” Prayer to Saints is a request, to the saint, to pray FOR us to God or pray WITH us to God. We know that God is the ONE who answers our prayer. Where as, in “Prayer TO God” we are directly asking God to answer our prayer. We believe both types of prayer, direct and intercessory, are legitimate.

For more info see my post: Why do Catholics Pray to Mary?

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17 Responses to Prayer to Saints is Wrong

  1. happy says:

    I am so happy that this topic has been brought up. My husband is Catholic, I am not, but we attend Mass weekly at several Catholic churches. I am very interested in the Church.

    My best friend who was raised Catholic ( she has left the church, but is very active in a non denominational church) always tells me”maybe you can teach them to pray to God and not to Mary or the saints”.

    I have often questioned this of her. I wasn’t raised praying to Mary, but I certainly never saw any problem with it. I don’t understand why people get so offended by prayers to saints. We ask people to interceed for us all the time. What would be the difference? I’m kind of under the assumption I can use all the help I can get on this journey. If someone is willing to provide intercessory prayer for me it sounds like a good thing!

  2. My best friend who was raised Catholic ( she has left the church, but is very active in a non denominational church) always tells me”maybe you can teach them to pray to God and not to Mary or the saints”.

    A good place to start might be to ask her about her thoughts on what death means to a Christian. Are we more alive when we are on earth – truly alive and filled with grace and radiating His light – or when we are with Him without the burdens of this world.

    From there ask her if she ever asks anyone to pray for her.

    If she believes saints – those who are saved and enjoy happiness with God for all eternity – are fully in the Divine light… Well, why wouldn’t we ask their prayers?

    I am glad you comment here Happy. I really am.

    Keep us in your prayers.

  3. happy says:

    Thanks, I love following along! I have learned so much from posts, articles and links. Truly facinating! It is nice as a non Catholic, who attends Mass(and I LOVE it!) and is very interested in becoming Catholic to be able to answer questions about this faith and kind of “set people straight” about some mistaken beliefs about the Catholic faith. I want to be accurate in doing that, so it is great to be able to come here and follow along!

    This is such a great site!

    I will most definately keep you in my prayers and I ask for the same from you!
    Blessings to all

  4. Gin says:

    (BFHU) “Where does scripture forbid asking Mary and the saints to intercede for us?”

    The wording of this question worries me. What I want to ask is this: “Where is the scriptural precedence for asking …the saints to intercede for us?” I know of no instance in the NT of Paul or Peter of John asking Moses or Enoch or Elijah to intercede for them.

    I don’t have any problem calling up a friend on the telephone and asking her to keep me in her prayers. We are to pray for one another. That same scripture also says to confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed (so am I to assume that Catholics think the saints in heaven still sin and need to pray for one another up there?) In light of that, how is calling a friend to pray for you remotely similar to praying to any Christian who has died to intercede for you? We are not to communicate with those who have passed on, the bible plainly says this.

    When I was in new age I prayed to saints and angels because I was scared of God and His wrath. I figured a human would have more compassion for me than God would. I now feel very strongly that this practice is wrong.

    Gin

  5. Nan says:

    Gin, Catholics follow a combination of Scripture and Tradition, meaning that not all traditions are based in scripture, so there’s no point in telling us what you feel. The Bible does direct us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray for us.

    In any case, new agers have a completely different understanding of saints and angels than do Catholics; I don’t know why you were afraid of God and His Wrath. People pray for the intercession of angels and saints to help them in their earthly works and to help them to become more holy, among other things.

  6. Gin says:

    Nan, please give me the chapter and verse where the bible “directs us to invoke those in heaven and ask them to pray for us.” Jesus had something to say about the traditions of man making void the word of God, and you admit that not all your traditions are based in scripture. You don’t care about what I feel; I don’t care about your traditions. Thanks for helping put the last nail in the Catholic coffin for me. You really did me a favor.

    Gin

  7. bfhu says:

    “Where is the scriptural precedence for asking …the saints to intercede for us?” I know of no instance in the NT of Paul or Peter of John asking Moses or Enoch or Elijah to intercede for them.

    That is true. But St. John makes it clear that all that Jesus did and taught is not in Scripture in John 21. The Catholic Faith adheres to the truth, all of it, as taught to the apostles by Jesus and passed on to faithful men able to teach. I would like to refer you to these posts on my other blog Here

    I don’t have any problem calling up a friend on the telephone and asking her to keep me in her prayers. We are to pray for one another.

    Yes.

    That same scripture also says to confess our sins to one another so that we may be healed (so am I to assume that Catholics think the saints in heaven still sin and need to pray for one another up there?)

    No. The Catholic Church does not teach that we and the saints in Heaven confess our sins to one another. We just ask them to pray for us.

    In light of that, how is calling a friend to pray for you remotely similar to praying to any Christian who has died to intercede for you?

    It is the same request. The difference is that we must rely upon the power of God to relay our prayer request to a saint. So, it is different b/c we can’t speak on the phone to a Saint or talk it over face to face with them like we can our friends. But scripture does say that the prayer of a righteous man avails much. The saints in Heaven ARE righteous. They have passed the test and are in the very presence of God so we ask them to pray for us for the very scriptural reason that the prayers of a righteous man avails much.

    We are not to communicate with those who have passed on, the bible plainly says this.

    I must differ with you on this, although I too was taught this as a Protestant. The Bible forbids DIVINATION through the dead not asking for the dead to pray to God for us. Please see my post NECROMANCY?

    When I was in new age I prayed to saints and angels because I was scared of God and His wrath. I figured a human would have more compassion for me than God would.

    Now that you are a Christian I hope you are conviced that God actually loves your more and is more compassionate than most humans. But, that is so very interesting. I have never been into the New Age and I love to hear the conversion stories of Christians who were once New Agers. It is so very illuminating. Because the New Age beliefs are so enticing to the children of our culture.

    I now feel very strongly that this practice is wrong.

    I can see why you would be very, VERY leary especially since there are so many Catholics who have compromised, with New Age beliefs in many ways (more than Evangelical Protestants)… even Priests and Nuns. But, I can assure you that their beliefs are not authentic Catholic Christianity.

  8. happy says:

    Hi Gin!

    I am Protestant and I understand your being unclear on this subject as it is not anything I grew up with either! When I asked my inlaws about this, they described it like having my Grandfather , who was a devout Christian, up in heaven and me talking to him! Like, “Grampa, What do I do here, please intercede for me!” I would ask that while someone was here on this earth. I do ask it. I have asked all on this blog to pray for me and my family and I pray for them. These are holy people who have gone on before us and we are asking for intercession. Can they answer those prayers? No, only God can.
    You have to think too, When Jesus died they didn’t just start handing out Bibles right then and there! Obviously lots of time went by and storys needed to be passed down and tradition is crucial whether you are Catholic or not.

    I care what you feel and I think others do, too! The point being made, I think was it is not Catholic belief that all things come directly from scripture.

    Blessings, :)

  9. Nan says:

    Gin,

    Before you start throwing stones, look at the fact that you come to a clearly Catholic blog and tell us that we’re wrong. I am not a trained theologian and even if I were, there is no point in citing chapter and verse when you’re looking for a fight and for someone to blame for your rejection of Catholicism. You want to reject it.

    New Agers frequently talk about how they feel, and protestants ask for chapter and verse. Why As I previously mentioned, Catholicism is based on Tradition and Scripture, though you have it backwards. Tradition predates scripture, so of course not every tradition is included in scripture.

    In addition, I don’t know where you get your view of a wrathful God, but that isn’t the God I believe in.

  10. bfhu says:

    Nan,
    You are correct that this is Catholic Blog. But my posts are apologetic in nature so when Protestants search various questions they will end up on this blog reading one of my posts and perhaps others as well. I am a convert to the Catholic Church and Gin and other Protestants commenting on one of my posts is not being mean spirited. I can assure you of that. They are just being honest and trying to get honest answers to their questions. There are others who comment who are just plain argumentative and trying to stir up a fuss or use this blog to publish their viewpoint. I honestly do not think Gin falls into that category. Regardless, we want to “believe the best” of them and treat everyone with the utmost charity.. I wish to treat all who ask questions as if they were inquirers…which they really are.

  11. Nan says:

    Her responses to me are beyond mean spirited.

  12. Gin says:

    Nan, you have misinterpreted my reasons for coming here. You assumed I was looking for a fight. You are wrong. When I asked an honest question, you came out of the blue swinging at me. I reacted defensively. If I have started throwing stones, know that you threw the first one based on your bias toward me. Can I not ask honest questions? If not, or if you just want to fight, please stay out of it and let the other kind people answer my questions. I have come here because I have a friend who became Catholic last year. I would explain more about that but you’ve made it clear that you don’t care about my feelings. So I won’t say anymore. Except that I have been in no way “beyond mean spirited”. You have been unkind and mean-spirited toward me from the very start.

    By contrast, bfhu and happy have been nice to me. If I can’t ask my questions in an atmosphere where I feel comfortable raising my objections, or I get slammed from the get-go by those who are supposed to be knowledgeable, then I will not ever change my mind about Catholicism.

  13. Robert says:

    Gin,

    God bless you.

    I would like to give you a few things to contemplate which might help you to understand the Catholic position.

    You say,

    “In light of that, how is calling a friend to pray for you remotely similar to praying to any Christian who has died to intercede for you? We are not to communicate with those who have passed on, the bible plainly says this.”

    I think that the Bible cannot be construed so narrowly as to think that we are absolutely forbidden from communicating with those who have died.

    Let us make this statement:

    1) It is wrong to communicate with the dead.

    Now let us scrutinize the truth value of this statement. I say we cannot affirm it as being a true statement.

    The first reason is that Jesus does this. During the Transfiguration Jesus communicates with Moses and Elijah. This should give us pause in affirming (1) to be true, because that might imply that Jesus Himself did something wrong.

    The Scriptures, however, do condemn necromancy and divination. I assume this is what you refer to when you say that it is wrong to communicate with the dead.

    I would suggest that this does not leave us at a stand still. The first reason is that the evidence of Jesus communicating with the dead “weighs” a lot more than a condemnation of magic. The second reason is that a condemnation of divination is not the same thing as a condemnation of communication with the dead. Rather, it is a condemnation of a certain type or method of communicating with the dead.

    Why? Consider these propositions.

    2) All divination is communication with the dead.

    3) All communication with the dead is divination.

    Let us assume for the sake of argument that #2 is true. Even if #2 is true, it doesn’t follow that #3 is true– in fact, it would be a logical fallacy to derive the truth of #3 from #2, because such a thing does not follow at all, just as it doesn’t follow that because all dogs are animals that all animals are dogs.

    So I would like to establish this distinction, while divination is certainly forbidden, and divination is a type of communication with the dead, it is not therefore the case that all communication with the dead is forbidden. And the reason is straightforwardly logical.

    Indeed, whether communication with the dead of a non-divination, non-necromancy type is moral is another question.

    The Catholic, at this point, would assert that prayer is a way of communication with the dead which is non-divination and non-necromancy, and thus that it very possibly fits that bill.

    Let me take a moment to make a distinction between what I’ll call magic and prayer. I would say that both divination and necromancy are types of magic. Magic is VERY different than prayer, and for reasons that will be clear shortly, magic is always gravely immoral.

    Prayer is primarily approaching God in humility and asking for what we need. And it is always in accord with God’s will. It essentially includes a surrendering of our will to God and an openness to His will. Prayer is not done by our power, rather, prayer is our admission of our weakness and our openness to God’s power, because in praying we admit that we are not self-sufficient but rather that we need His help.

    Magic is the opposite. Magic is a technique or a science of sorts. By means of magic people try to wrest from things higher than themselves powers or favors. Magic tries to perversely wrest from natures higher than oneself powers not proper to one’s own nature. Hence, when evil people make pacts with the demons they try to wrest spiritual powers which are proper to the angels and control them, despite these powers belonging properly to angels and not to men. Magic is not THY WILL BE DONE it is simply MY WILL BE DONE. It is pure technique and manipulation.

    Prayer can never be these. But magic will always be this. Necromancy and divination are magic, and that’s why they’re so evil. They are the exactly opposite of prayer. But Catholics equally agree that magic is evil. That’s why we pray to deceased people, and we don’t use magic.

    I would argue that it is magic which is evil and prohibited, but that communication with the dead via other means is certainly not evil.

    Consider again Jesus Christ speaking to Moses and Elijah. This is communication with the dead. But think of the word COMMUNICATION. It has within it COMMUNION. And what else is the body of Christ but COMMUNION with the rest of the body, through God? There is nothing wrong with communion with the dead, and indeed, we are intimately connected with the whole Church in Christ Jesus, because we are all ONE body, regardless of what state we are in, living or dead (and as Jesus asserts to the Sadducees, God is not the God of the dead, but of the living, and we should not forget that our beloved dead are in reality living in God).

    This might help to clear up why communication with the dead isn’t bad– indeed, for Christians it is normal, because we are *always* in communion with all the faithful departed through Jesus Christ.

    Now, I hope this will help to pave the way for the next Scriptures which I will use to illustrate my point.

    Consider the book of Revelation (the Apocalypse). It is John’s vision of the heavenly liturgy. He literally sees what worship is like in heaven. But what exactly is it like? Endless worship of God by the blessed.

    Consider these excerpts, “When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones.” (Rev 5:8) And then also this,

    “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.” (Rev 8:3-4).

    Both of these depict as an essential part of the heavenly liturgy the offering of the prayers of the saints. There are some unavoidable conclusions here– the primary one is that the saints in heaven are praying for God for stuff to happen on earth. After all, there are no prayers for things to get better in heaven, only for things to get better where things CAN get better, and that’s anywhere which is not-heaven or not-hell.

    And let’s consider what the deal with this is. In heaven our charity is perfected. Now, on earth it is a work of charity to pray for one’s brother. Now, the saints in heaven are perfect in charity, and they remain in communion with God and the Church (the body). Doesn’t it stand to reason that the saints not only continue to intercede on behalf of the saints on earth, but that they do so in a more excellent way?

    Close communion with God doesn’t make us self-absorbed, but rather much more charitable. Love of God causes love of neighbor. How much more so for the blessed?

    I think I’ve given good reason to suppose that (1) is false. I think that’s a large roadblock to clear away. What are your thoughts?

    God bless.

  14. Gin says:

    Hi Robert, and thank you for your response. I have to say you’ve given me a lot to think about. Concerning Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah, it could not have been wrong for Him to do. Was He asking them for help? It doesn’t say. So, what you’ve said makes a lot of sense. Now, concerning why I still have hesitation….I would have to explain a situation involving the death of someone close to me, which eventually led to new age involvement. I can’t explain that here. Thank you for your time and insights. I appreciate it.
    Gin

  15. Nan says:

    Gin, with regard to prayer to the saints, the statement “I now feel this is wrong” is an attack on the church and Catholic tradition, especially when combined with a demand to provide to you chapter and verse. Your words indicate that you know better than 2000 years of tradition and need proof in scripture. My response was to tell you flat-out that isn’t what Catholicism is about.

    Communication 101 tells us that we don’t have control of how others respond to our communication; you communicated something offensive to me and blame me for a) “putting the nail in the Catholic coffin” and b) for attacking you. All I did was respond to the communication you put out there; you’re still trying to control by demanding I stay off a blog to which I contribute.

  16. Robert says:

    Gin,

    “Concerning Jesus talking to Moses and Elijah, it could not have been wrong for Him to do. Was He asking them for help? It doesn’t say.”

    You are right that it doesn’t say. At the very least this event secures that communication with the dead is not forbidden, and I’m content to derive only that lesson from it in this exchange. I believe that we can learn more about whether the saints in heaven intercede on behalf of us by examining 1) the nature of the Body of Christ, 2) the nature of intercessory prayer, 3) the perfection of the saints in heaven, both in a) mind, where they have access to the vision of God’s very being, and thus fullness of knowledge, and b) will, where they wholly grasp the Ultimate Good, and thereby always will it. Take time with this, and of course, pray over it.

    “Now, concerning why I still have hesitation….I would have to explain a situation involving the death of someone close to me, which eventually led to new age involvement. I can’t explain that here. Thank you for your time and insights. I appreciate it.”

    Gin, no problem. I hope that Jesus Christ may bring all of us healing and peace.

    If you do want to discuss this in a different setting (i.e., via email) if you think a public blog is inappropriate, then please feel free to indicate this to me, and we can exchange email addresses. If not, then I’ll try to keep you in my prayers regardless.

    God bless you,
    Rob

  17. Marlon Manuzon says:

    Dear brothers and sisters,

    When we pray we pray to God the Father in Heaven, to our Lord Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit. I believe, our Lord Jesus Christ only prayed to His Father in Heaven. We pray for one another most specially those who are ill either physically (most specially who are mentally incapable) or spiritually (our brothers who have not yet accepted God in their Life).

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