The Appropriateness and Efficacy of Prayers to Matt1618

The Appropriateness and Efficacy
of Prayers to Saints

By Matt1618

In this paper, I will address two objections. First, it is argued that Scripture forbids us to have any contact with dead people, and thus praying to Saints is forbidden on those grounds. Also, some argue that it is not efficacious to pray to saints, because it is impossible for them to hear our prayers.

Let me first address the objection that Scripture forbids us contacting the dead. Scripture does forbid a particular method of attempting to contact the dead. Now yes, Deuteronomy does forbid divination. Deuteronomy 18:10-11:

10: There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, 11: or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
Here we see Deuteronomy condemning the practice of divination, and forbids the use of any medium to contact the dead. Sorcery is condemned.

The online Dictionary definition of divination:

The act of divining; a foreseeing or foretelling of future events; the pretended art discovering secret or future by preternatural means.

The Catholic does not pray to saints to ask them to predict the future or use any preternatural means. The Catholic prays for their help in praying to God for us. Yes, we pray to God directly, but we ask for assistance as well.

The following is the online definition of necromancy:

Necromancy: The practice of supposedly communicating with the spirits of the dead in order to predict the future.

Necromancy forbids us from communicating with those spirits in order to find out our future. The means of doing this is magical and superstitious, using such things as seances. Catholicism condemns such things. The Catholic uses no magic at all. He just prays for the Saints intercession for us.

We see in Scripture an example of what God forbade. Saul had lost contact with God. As a leader, he had originally forbidden contact with mediums, spirits. However, he turned away from God after his disobedience and let us see his action, 1 Sam:28:6-19:

1 Sam. 28:6: And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by prophets. 7: Then Saul said to his servants, "Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "Behold, there is a medium at Endor." 8: So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments, and went, he and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, "Divine for me by a spirit, and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you." 9: The woman said to him, "Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?" 10: But Saul swore to her by the LORD, "As the LORD lives, no punishment shall come upon you for this thing." 11: Then the woman said, "Whom shall I bring up for you?" He said, "Bring up Samuel for me." 12: When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out with a loud voice; and the woman said to Saul, "Why have you deceived me? You are Saul." 13: The king said to her, "Have no fear; what do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I see a god coming up out of the earth." 14: He said to her, "What is his appearance?" And she said, "An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe." And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. 15: Then Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" Saul answered, "I am in great distress; for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams; therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do." 16: And Samuel said, "Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has turned from you and become your enemy? 17: The LORD has done to you as he spoke by me; for the LORD has torn the kingdom out of your hand, and given it to your neighbor, David. 18: Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD, and did not carry out his fierce wrath against Am'alek, therefore the LORD has done this thing to you this day. 19: Moreover the LORD will give Israel also with you into the hand of the Philistines; and tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me; the LORD will give the army of Israel also into the hand of the Philistines."
Saul went to a medium. Condemned by Deuteronomy. He conjured up a spirit: Condemned by Deuteronomy. He asked for divination: condemned by Deuteronomy. Saul was not praying to Samuel’s spirit, that he may pray to God for him, which is what Catholics do. We do not go through a medium, conjure up a Saint’s spirit, and then expect the Saint to speak back to us, and use his talk to predict out future. We ask them to pray for us only. By Saul going through a medium to conjure up a spirit, he did something he knew he was not supposed to do. Catholics do not attempt to conjure up a spirit. He used a medium, which he knew he himself had been forbidden when he was in good graces with God. Thus, the woman was speaking to the very man who had forbidden her to do what he now asked her to. When he had been obedient to God, he had forbidden calling up spirits for the purpose of divination. He was asking for these spirits to predict his future, and guide his life. He never realized the wrongness of his disobedience to God‘s direction, unlike David, who would truly repent of his sin with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband Uriah the Hittite, (2 Sam 11, 12). He did not pray to Samuel, for the purpose of praying to God. When a Catholic prays to a saint, he only asks for his/her intercession to God.

The Catholic Church condemns divination that is found here the passages of Deuteronomy and 1 Samuel:

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future.[48] Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion.

The above footnote 48 above references Deuteronomy 18:10. The Church wholeheartedly condemns what Deuteronomy condemns. The Church condemns conjuring up spirits, and recourse to mediums. The Catholic asks the saint to intercede so we can be more obedient and closer to God. We are asking only for their supplication, prayer. That is not what either Deuteronomy or 1st Samuel prohibits. So, we see that the communication with the dead that the Old Testament forbids, is not speaking about the kind of things that Catholics do.

A most telling Scripture which shows that communication with specific people who have died is not sinful, is the example of our Lord Himself. Matt. 19:1-4:

1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Eli'jah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Eli'jah.
Here, the ‘dead’ people of Moses and Elijah, communicate with Our Lord himself. Of course, Our Lord does not ‘conjure up’ their spirit. Nor does he use a medium to get them to come up. Nor does he call on them to tell him his future. Thus, Our Lord’s communication with the dead show that just speaking to them, in and of itself, is not sinful. Another important issue, is the fact that Jesus did this in front of Peter and James. So he did not do this by Himself, but He did this in front of other people. This example to Peter and James is an example to us. This shows communicating with the dead in and of itself is not sinful, unless Jesus is a sinner Himself. Of course orthodox Christianity accepts that Jesus is sinless and the fact that he communicated with ‘dead‘ people, shows that ‘in and of itself’ it is not sinful to speak to ‘dead‘ people.

Peter witnessed this fact. Now we see that in Acts 10, a person by the name of Tabitha died. Let us see what Peter did, Acts 9:36-41:

Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37 In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38 Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him entreating him, "Please come to us without delay." 39 So Peter rose and went with them. And when he had come, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing tunics and other garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, rise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive.
Tabitha was a dead person. In the grave. If Peter was forbidden from ‘communicating’ with the dead, he could never have spoken to the dead Tabitha. In fact he did. He spoke to Tabitha and that speaking to Tabitha is what brought her up. Now, of course this is not an exact parallel to us praying to saints, but it shows that there is nothing wrong in communicating to the dead, or otherwise, Tabitha would not have been raised. If Peter did not ‘speak’, or in a sense, pray, to Tabitha, the miracle would not have happened. God honored that communication by raising Tabitha. If it was a sin, God would not have let Peter be an instrument in raising Tabitha up.

Now I want to look at the question is there biblical evidence that we should pray for the dead. Another objection is that praying to saints violates 1 Tim. 2:5 which says that Jesus is the only mediator and that would preclude us from praying to saints, I have already written in dealing with that objection here:

Next, to the point of the efficacy of the prayers to the saints. How can dead people hear us? First off, there are principles necessary to understand, in order to understand how that can happen. Before I get to specific biblical verses that show that, I need to get these biblical principles understood.

1) The fact is that like Elijah, and Moses, those who are in Christ are not dead. He is the God of the living. Jesus shows us that here, Mark 12:24-27:

24 Jesus said to them, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong."
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses and Elijah are alive. Those who are alive in Christ, but have departed in the body are not dead!!! They are more alive than they ever were on earth, and those who object that we are speaking to dead people, are called by Jesus as not knowing either Scripture, or the power of God.

2) One of the many objections that Protestants have to Catholics praying to saints is that it is impossible for those in heaven to hear us. Another claim is that by saying that Saints in heaven can hear us, we are claiming omnipotence or omniscience for them. The Catholic premise behind praying to saints is that saints in heaven have more abilities than we do on earth, and their spirits can respond to our prayers, even if many people are praying to them at the same time. The Protestant premise is that they are unaware of what is going on, on earth, therefore it doesn’t do any good to pray to them. Whose premise is correct, from the Bible? We know tradition shows that prayers to saints was performed from the very beginning. The Orthodox Church prays to saints. The Coptic Church prays to saints. The Catholic Church prays to saints. There were no Protestant type objections in prayers to saints by the early Fathers. So, since Protestants do not accept the authority of tradition, I will operate on their criteria of using the Bible to establish the answer to the question.

3) The concept that Protestants have, that saints can not hear our prayer is partially based on the idea that our own abilities on earth is foisted on the abilities of saints, when they go to heaven. They generally get the idea that in heaven, we are sort of alone with God, and enjoy our presence with him, and maybe some other who have died in Christ. But the Protestant will say, they really have no concern or at least ability to do anything for those on earth, and therefore do not pray for us, and have no way of receiving our prayers.

Is that the case? Are we really separated from those in heaven? In fact, Paul writes that we are one Body. Jesus, in making his priestly prayer talks about the unity that he calls for, John 17:20-21:

20 "I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Now here Jesus is talking about how he wants his followers to be united. All those who believe in his word, of course automatically includes those who have died, believing in him. Of course those in heaven, who are not weighed down by sin, are united with those striving to follow Christ. In fact Christ‘s prayers are efficacious.

We know from Paul that Christ’s body is his Church, Eph. 1:22-23:

22 and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all.
He fills all in all. That Church which is his body, is for all believers, and those in heaven, are now more believers than when they were on earth. The fullness of his body spoken of here, would include those in heaven.

There is one body. Not one body in heaven and one body in earth. Paul writes about the unity of the body, and how members of the body need each other, 1 Cor. 12:12-16, 25:

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--Jews or Greeks, slaves or free--and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body...20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you."..25 that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
All of those who are baptized into Christ drink of the Spirit. Of course the focus here is on earthly members and the functions of all the members of the body have an important contribution to the Church. However, those who are alive in Christ, but not physically alive, are a part of that one body. Now it seems like those on earth who deny the relationship with those in heaven, are exactly doing what Paul condemns. Paul says the body consists of not one member but many. What Protestants are doing by denying that we should have any interaction with those in heaven is saying: ‘I have no need of you’, which is what Paul is saying we can not say. Paul wrote the eye cannot say to the hand I have no need for you. Since Paul is talking about the body of Christ, he would include those who are with Christ in heaven as well. They have drunk of the Spirit as mentioned above in 1 Cor. 12:13. They did not stop drinking of the Spirit when they went to heaven so the passage does apply to them. They are now more in union with the Holy Spirit, than they ever were on earth. As v. 25 says above, in the body, there is a care and need for each other. If the Body is to have a need for each other, how can those in heaven, who are a part of that body care for those on earth? Well, the most obvious way that they can care for us is by praying for us.

4) We are not separated by death from God‘s love. Paul tell us this in Romans, 8:35-37:

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers...
Christ loves his Church, his body. Notice that Paul says nothing will separate us from the love of Christ. Notice that he specifically says Death does not separate us from His love. Remember, the fullness of Christ is his Church. If death did separate the body from those on earth from those in heaven, Paul really couldn’t write that. In other words, if Satan was able to through death sever the body of Christ from each other, then Satan would have succeeded. Is that likely? This Scripture tells us no!!!

6) The next principle is not really disputed. It is that intercession is a help and need for believers. We even see this in the background to the one mediator argument, 1 Tim. 2:1-4. I won’t give the direct quotations of those passages because no Christian will dispute that fact. Protestants ask each other to pray for each other for their benefit, all the time. Col. 4:2-4, Col. 1:4, 9-10, 2 Cor. 1:10, Rom. 15:30-32, 1 Thes. 5:25, 2 Thes. 3:1-2, are a few passages which will show that.

7) One objection against praying to saints is the idea that if we prayed to saints at the same time, wouldn’t they have to be omnipotent in order to hear all these prayers at the same time? Indeed, the saints in heaven are not omnipotent, but are no longer bound by time. They are in eternity.

In reference to omnipresence, there are only a finite number of people who make prayers, so, so there would only be a finite number of prayers and thus prayers being able to hear is not a reflection of omnipresence. Many will grant that Satan can be spiritually here, and Satan can be there as well. Does that mean Satan is omnipresent? No.

Let us look at the following passages, which show our abilities in heaven, as opposed to our current abilities:

Phil. 3:20-21 20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

1 Cor. 13:9-12: 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

1 Cor. 2:9 But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him,"

We see from the above passages that those who die in Christ shall be like Him!! As mentioned earlier, too often Protestants think of those in heaven and relate our current abilities and put that on them in heaven, as totally cut off from the rest of the body of Christ on earth. Since we can’t hear prayers from somebody 100 miles away, that lack of ability is foisted upon those in heaven. As the above passages shows, those who are in heaven have abilities that far exceed the limited ability that we currently have. We shall be like him, as 1 John 2 says. If we are totally isolated from those on earth, how in the world can we be like him? If saints in heaven only commune with those other saints in heaven, just like those who have bodies on earth commune with each other on earth, then we shall not be like him, and contradict 1 John 2. Jesus has a relationship with those on earth, and cares for those on earth, and watches over those on earth. Now, if 1 John says we shall be like Him, does it not follow that the saints care for those on earth as well? What can saints do to help the believers in Christ on earth? The most obvious way, is that they can help them by prayer, which as noted above is efficacious. Now, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 on earth we only know in part. Then when we see Christ face to face, we shall understand fully. That applies to those who are in Christ’s presence in heaven. They understand fully. If they understand fully, it does not make any sense to say that they know nothing about us. If these passages really mean what they say, it implies that they are aware of what is going on for us, and since they are a part of the same body that we are, they will pray for us, as that is the only way that they can help us. So these Scriptures prove that the tendency to put our limited capabilities onto the saints in heaven, is mistaken, and to make it so they are oblivious to the things that we do on earth, also mistaken.

8) Now let us look at some passages that specifically show the awareness of those in heaven for those on earth.

Mt. 18:10 "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.
Lk. 15:6-10: 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9 And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.' 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
We see that angels are aware of what is going on in earth. God is not the only one who has joys, but all in heaven have joy. Those in heaven include the saints!! So if they are happy when one repents, why would they not pray for those on earth, who are in the race that is set before us? Not only generally, but also they care and are aware of what is happening for individuals. They can rejoice for them when they repent and turn to God. As earlier quoted, Jesus says that we are like those angels in heaven. Let us take at Jesus‘ reference to this in Matthew, Mt. 22:29-32:
But Jesus answered them, "You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 31 And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 32 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living."
The background to the passage is a parable that Jesus gave, that several people died, and then the next one died, who became widowed. Now, Jesus points to the fact that when they are with God, they will live like the angels in heaven, who we’ve seen are aware of and care for those on earth. They are truly alive, and since they care for us, and they see a part of the body (those Christian sojourners on earth) which must endure the same things on earth that they endured. Thus, since they care for us, the way that they can express this care is by praying for us.

Now, let us look at some more passages which will show this care for us. Hebrews 12:1 confirms this.

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
The cloud, represents the presence of God. The saints are in that cloud, as they are witnesses. The witness refers to those who have persevered and are in that presence. How can they know nothing if there is a 'cloud of witnesses'? Hebrews 12 uses the term ‘witnesses’. Not only are their lives an example, but they themselves are witnesses of the Christians lives on earth. Now the term used in Heb. 12:1 is the term martus, which means martyr. Let us look at how some Protestant sources see the use of the term witness, as used in Heb. 12:1. I borrow the following from Dave Armstrong‘s piece on that : :
1) Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Joseph H. Thayer, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 4th ed., 1977; orig. 1901, p. 392) defines it - as used in this verse - as follows:

One who is a spectator of anything, e.g. of a contest, Heb 12:1.

[Strong's word #3144; similar usages cited by Thayer: Lk 24:48; Acts 1:8; 1:22; 2:32; 3:15; 5:32; 10:39; 13:31; 26:16; 1 Pet 5:1 - the sense is indisputable in these other verses]

2) Word Studies in the New Testament (Marvin R. Vincent, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1980; orig. 1887; vol. 4, p. 536), another standard Protestant language source, comments on this verse as follows:

'Witnesses' does not mean spectators, but those who have borne witness to the truth, as those enumerated in chapter 11. Yet the idea of spectators is implied, and is really the principal idea. The writer's picture is that of an arena in which the Christians whom he addresses are contending in a race, while the vast host of the heroes of faith who, after having borne witness to the truth, have entered into their heavenly rest, watches the contest from the encircling tiers of the arena, compassing and overhanging it like a cloud, filled with lively interest and sympathy, and lending heavenly aid.

We see from a Protestant source that the witness in this cloud lend heavenly aid. The fact that they are spectators is the principle idea of the passage. Prayer is the heavenly aid they give us.

Now, the background to the statement in Hebrews 12, is chapter 11, where the writer mentions saints in the Old Testament such as Abel (v. 4), Abraham (vv. 8-19), Joseph (vv. 22), Moses (vv. 23-28), the Maccabean martyrs (v. 35), etc. The general Protestant take on Heb. 12:1-2, is that the ‘witnesses’ points only to their example. The example is the witness, not the people themselves. But the phrase ‘cloud’ refers to a real presence. For example, in Exodus 13:21, 22, 14:20, 24 19:9) God followed the people of Israel in a cloud. He was with his people in a special way. The principal idea is that those passages that speak of witnesses are speaking of actual people. Not just that their lives are examples, but those who fought the fight of faith in Hebrews 11, who are real people who are observing and are witnesses of our lives. The passages such as Luke and Acts which use the term ‘witnesses’ speak of individuals who observe something. Thus, when it refers in Hebrews 12, it refers to individual witnesses. And as the Word studies in the New Testament refers to this passage, they are filled with lively interest and sympathy and lend heavenly aid. Well, how can they lend heavenly aid to us, except praying for us? They empathize with the Church militant on earth, and pray for them. The passage again says to lay aside sin, and strive in the Christian race, as we strive for holiness and strive to be with and remain in Christ. The saints as intimate witnesses pray for us.

Later in the same chapter in Hebrews more info is given to sustain that idea and actually gives another idea central to the Catholic doctrine, Heb 12:22-23:

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23 and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
The author of Hebrews is writing first to the readers of Hebrews, but also all Christians everywhere. It says that we come to the spirits of just men made perfect!!! Who are just men made perfect? Those in God's presence in heaven, the saints!!! He is writing to all to the Hebrew Christians, but since this is inspired, and for all Christians, this means that this is meant for all readers. And coming to those of spirits of just men made perfect, are available to all. We come to the spirits of just men made perfect. Only those in heaven are perfect as there, they are detached from sin. The context is heaven. Coming to the heavenly Jerusalem. We come to God, to Jesus, to the angels. But also to the Spirit of the just men made perfect, i.e., saints. He is speaking of us coming to them. How do we come to spirits of just men made perfect? The only way we can come to them is by praying to them!!! Praying to them is us coming to them. They thus lift up our prayers to God the Father. That does not mean that we can not pray to the Father directly as Catholics do all the time, but they can help us in our prayers. This passage shows that we have a relationship with those in heaven. We come to them in prayer, and they are not only witnesses (Heb. 12:1), but they lend us aid, as the Protestant commentary said.

In Rev. 18:20 we see that those in heaven are aware of what is happening in the 'great city'

19 And they threw dust on their heads, as they wept and mourned, crying out, "Alas, alas, for the great city where all who had ships at sea grew rich by her wealth! In one hour she has been laid waste. 20 Rejoice over her, O heaven, O saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!"
The saints rejoice in heaven, not only when someone repents of sins (Lk 15), but also when they notice God's judgment on a specific city. Well, if they are aware of what is happening in Babylon, and they can notice what happens in a specific city, it is obvious they are no longer bound by time. They can be aware of what is happening. We are linked. They seek our betterment. We are not separated by death. On earth, we are limited with many things on our mind distracting us. In heaven they have perfect love. And how can they love us? By praying for us. Now we see this in other passages in Revelation. Let us look at a couple of passages, 5:8-10:
8 And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."[A]nd they [the elders] sang a new song, saying, 'Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth'"
Saints in heaven are making prayers for us. One may say, 'well, those are only prayers of those on earth!" Now, in Revelation 5, the context is heaven. At God's side. There are 24 elders who are in heaven, which represent the Church in heaven, since at that time, they are with the Lamb in heaven. As we see the passage in verses 9-10, we see that he not only are they receiving prayers from those on earth, but they are vitally concerned with what is happening on the earth. Let us say that the prayers of the saints are only those on earth praying. Well, aren't these elders who are in heaven, being the ones who present the prayers of the saints on earth? We see that they are praying for those on earth. So even if you only say that those prayers of the saints are only of those on earth, it is still those in heaven (elders) who are presenting those prayers to God!!! Thus, prayers are coming from those on earth, going directly to the saints in heaven, which present prayers to God. This directly shows prayers going to God, through the saints, who present those prayers to God. They are the ones presenting these prayers to God. Thus, regardless of how this passage is interpreted, this passage reflects Catholic doctrine.

The following passage ties in, James 5:16-18:

16 The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. 17 Eli'jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.
Now, someone will say, here James is not talking about saints in heaven. The example is of Elijah, when he was on earth, as being a powerful example of prayers of those on earth. Now, true, specifically he does not say that he is talking about prayers of those in heaven. However, James is giving us a truth, that by definition must include the saints in heaven. Why do I say that? Because James establishes a general principle, that the prayers of the righteous man avails much. Aren’t those in heaven perfectly righteous? Now, on earth, all of those who are running the race are often encumbered with sin (Heb. 12:1-2) . Well, who are the most righteous people who are no longer encumbered with sin? Of course we have seen in Heb. 12:23, those who we come to. We come to the heavenly realm, including Jesus, angels, but also: the spirits of just men made perfect. And we see in Revelation 5:8-10, that the saints in heaven present the prayers of those either on earth, or heaven directly to God. Since James says that the prayers of the righteous men has great power, and those who are perfectly righteous, are more powerful than those such as us, who are encumbered with sin.

We see in Rev. 6:9-10, where it says that those who had been slain, crying out with a loud voice, prayers for justice (Rev. 6:9, 10):

9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; 10 they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?"
Here is more evidence of those who are in heaven, being more alive, and praying for God’s justice to be done on earth. Of course this prayer is specifically dealing with events on earth. The justice that is supposed to be done is for God‘s judgment to be given to those who disobeyed God, while this justice would help those sojourners on earth who follow Christ. The prayers for general justice would of course help those on earth who follow Christ individually as well as corporately

Here is another passage, Rev. 8:3-4.

3 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; 4 and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.
Here we see that the prayers of those on earth go through the angel, who present their prayers. The angel serves as a mini-mediator who presents these prayers to God. This passage is another one that shows that prayers from those on earth are actually presented by God’s servants in heaven, to God. Since we know that they do pray for us, how can we disregard God‘s servants in heaven?

In the Old Testament we see in Jeremiah a reference to people in God’s presence interceding for those on earth, Jer. 15:1

Then the LORD said to me, "Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go!
The background is the prophet Jeremiah had been interceding for the people, who had abandoned God and turned to everybody and everything except him (Jer. 14). God refused to listen to Jeremiah’s pleading because of their wickedness. Then God says that Moses and Samuel were interceding for them!!! In the Old Testament, Moses and Samuel always interceded for their people (Ex. 32:11-14, Nm 14:11-25, 1 Sm 7:5-9, 12:19-23). Well, Moses and Samuel were both long physically dead, but now, during the time of Jeremiah, they were still interceding!!! Moses and Samuel had such charity, that God truly considered their prayers. But since the people were so wicked, even their intercession would not succeed. We need to be in God’s grace in order for the prayers to be the most efficacious. Even though God denied their prayers, it was because the people were so wicked, that they would get punished. Implied is that Moses and Samuel’s intercession was even more effective than the prophet Jeremiah, but they were not listened to only because of their wickedness. So, in the time of Jeremiah, there is intercession for people by Moses and Samuel, who while dead physically, were still alive spiritually.

In the Old Testament, in the 2nd book of Maccabees 5:12-16, there is another reference to a prayer to saint:

12: What he saw was this: Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. 13: Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. 14: And Onias spoke, saying, "This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God." 15: Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave to Judas a golden sword, and as he gave it he addressed him thus: 16: "Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your adversaries."
We see in the first part of 2nd Maccabees 15, 1-11, that Nicanor, a tyrant is planning to attack God’s people, the Jews. Onias is the chief priest of the Jews, sees Jeremiah, in heaven, praying for the Jews. Onias appeals to Jeremiah. Jeremiah helps by giving a gift from God to fight against Nicanor the tyrant. He aids his people also by praying for the people of the holy city. We have just seen the passage in Jeremiah 15, where there is a reference Moses and Samuel making intercession in Jeremiah’s time. He also gives a gift of a sword to help in victory. Now that Jeremiah is in God’s presence he prays for the people, just as Moses and Samuel did in Jeremiah 15. Now, some will say that this is not in the Bible. However, this book, which is referred to in Hebrews 11:35b, has been accepted by Christians for 2000 years, although Protestants did throw that book away from their Bible in the 16th century. For a whole page which goes to the issue of its Biblical status, I have a whole page dedicated here:

Now, Jeremiah’s prayers and even giving of a gift of a sword as a gift from God is used to help defeat God’s enemies. This is similar to the passage in Revelation 5:8-10, where intercessors are presenting the prayers of those on earth, to God in heaven. This is similar to the prayers of the saints for victory over God’s enemies in Rev. 6:9-10. In the new covenant, we are much more closely linked to those in heaven, as there is only one body, as noted earlier.


Scriptures do show that it is not anti-biblical to pray for the saints. We commit no sin as what Catholics do, are not only not forbidden in Scripture, but are consistent with not only the principles established in Scripture, but specific Scriptures which point to God‘s people in heaven not only interceding for those on earth, but accepting prayers from those people on earth, who realize that we are part of that same body of Christ. We see this in the Biblical principle established that there is one body on earth intimately linked with their brothers and sisters who are in heaven. We come to them through prayer, as they are the just men made perfect who are witnesses for us, and lend us aid (Heb. 12:1-2, 23). Jesus called the people in heaven alive and they express joy when the believers become followers of Christ (Mk. 12:24, 27, Lk. 15:7). We see in the book of Revelation many occasions where those in heaven are constantly making prayers, and are concerned for those on earth (Rev. 5:8-10, 6:9-10, 11:13-14, 19:18). We also see specific examples of prayer of named individuals in heaven who intercede for those on earth (Jer. 15:1, 2 Macc. 15:12-16). Finally, the efficaciousness of those prayers are guaranteed, because Heb. 12:23 says that we come to the sprits of those just men made perfect, and we know that in the epistle of James that the apostle says that the prayers of the righteous are of great power (Jm. 5:16-18). Finally, how can we do otherwise, and as we are part of that body, think that the saints say to us, ‘we have no need of you’ or that we can say to the saints in heaven ‘we have no need of you’? No, Catholic Christians do not ignore those saints in heaven, because we know that those prayers do avail us much good.

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

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Last modified February 29, 2004