Is Praying to Saints Scriptural?

23 04 2011

The issue of Catholics praying to saints is one that is full of confusion. It is the official position of the Roman Catholic Church that Catholics do not pray TO saints or Mary, but rather that Catholics can ask saints or Mary to pray FOR them. The official position of the Roman Catholic Church is that asking saints for their prayers is no different than asking someone here on earth to pray for you. However, the practice of many Catholics diverges from official Roman Catholic teaching. Many Catholics do in fact pray directly to saints and/or Mary, asking them for help – instead of asking the saints and/or Mary to intercede with God for help. Whatever the case, whether a saint or Mary is being prayed to, or asked to pray, neither practice has any Biblical basis.

The Bible nowhere instructs believers in Christ to pray to anyone other than God. The Bible nowhere encourages, or even mentions, believers asking individuals in Heaven for their prayers. Why, then, do many Catholic pray to Mary and/or the saints, or request their prayers? Catholics view Mary and saints as “intercessors” before God. They believe that a saint, who is glorified in Heaven, has more “direct access” to God than we do. Therefore, if a saint delivers a prayer to God, it is more effective than us praying to God directly. This concept is blatantly unbiblical. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we, believers here on earth, can “…approach the throne of grace with confidence…”

1 Timothy 2:5 declares, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” There is no one else that can mediate with God for us. If Jesus is the ONLY mediator, that indicates Mary and saints cannot be mediators. They cannot mediate our prayer requests to God. Further, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ Himself is interceding for us before the Father, “Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:25). With Jesus Himself interceding for us, why would we need Mary or the saints to intercede for us? Who would God listen to more closely than His Son? Romans 8:26-27 describes the Holy Spirit interceding for us. With the 2nd and 3rd members of the Trinity already interceding for us before the Father in Heaven, what possible need could there be to have Mary or the saints interceding for us?

Catholics argue that praying to Mary and the saints is no different than asking someone here on earth to pray for you. Let us examine that claim. (1) The Apostle Paul asks other Christians to pray for him in Ephesians 6:19. Many Scriptures describe believers praying for one another (2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:19; 2 Timothy 1:3). The Bible nowhere mentions anyone asking for someone in Heaven to pray for them. The Bible nowhere describes anyone in Heaven praying for anyone on earth. (2) The Bible gives absolutely no indication that Mary or the saints can hear our prayers. Mary and the saints are not omniscient. Even glorified in Heaven, they are still finite beings with limitations. How could they possibly hear the prayers of millions of people? Whenever the Bible mentions praying to or speaking with the dead, it is in the context of sorcery, witchcraft, necromancy, and divination – activities the Bible strongly condemns (Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10-13). The one instance when a “saint” is spoken to, Samuel in 1 Samuel 28:7-19, Samuel was not exactly happy to be disturbed. It is plainly clear that praying to Mary or the saints is completely different from asking someone here on earth to pray for you. One has a strong Biblical basis, the other has no Biblical basis whatsoever.

God does not answer prayers based on who is praying. God answers prayers based on whether they are asked according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). There is absolutely no basis or need to pray to anyone other than God alone. There is no basis for asking those who are in Heaven to pray for us. Only God can hear our prayers. Only God can answer our prayers. No one in Heaven has any greater access to God’s throne that we do through prayer (Hebrews 4:16).

     The Roman Catholic Church teaches, “”The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives… They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. 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.”(Catholic Catechism Second Edition #2683) Can saints in Heaven really intercede for mankind? That is the wording they used. Well Scripture disagrees with them for Paul declared, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”(1 Timothy 2:5)

     They also teach in the Roman church that communion with the dead brings us closer to Christ, “Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ.”(Catechism #957) This is also taught no place in Scripture, in fact throughout the Old Testament communing with the dead was strictly forbidden, only the pagan religions did such things which is further evidence that modern day Roman catholocism is old time paganism in new wrappings.

     Who are saints according to the Roman Church? “By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.” (Catechism #828) So only a select few who were already dead, and did really good works in life are considered to be saints and only by election of the pope. What saith the Scripture on this? “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”(Romans 1:7) “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints,is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”(Ephesians 3:8) “…Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,” (Jude 1:14) “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12) 

          “Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem….And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.”(Acts 9:13, 32) “And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”(Romans 8:27) Other references include Acts 26:10; Romans 12:13; 15:25; 15:26; 15:31; 16:2; 16:15; 1 Corinthians 6:1, 2 Corinthians 1:1, Ephesians 1:1. So it is obvious that the Roman Church and the New Testament writers had different definitions of saints. When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, Jesus told them to direct their prayers to the Father in Heaven. This is the only Scriptural method of prayer. All doctrines of praying to saints, or angels are heresy and ought to be condemned as such.

Written By: Rick Garland

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