Why Pray to the Saints in Heaven
When we speak of “praying” to the Saints it is important to understand the meaning of that word. The word “pray” does not mean to worship. We worship God alone, because worshipping anyone else is Idolatry. To Pray means to ask.
In 1 Timothy 2:5 we read that Jesus is the One Mediator between God and man. And this is the foundation for our asking others to pray for us and with us to God. This is evident since
In 1 Cor 12:12-31 we read that Christians are one body in Christ, and that we need each other. We cannot say to the other members “I do not need you,” (verse 21.) And in Romans 8:38 we read that not even death can separate us from God and His love. And so, after our death we will still be part of the One Body of Christ.
Therefore, the Bible implies we need the help God wants to give us through the Saints in heaven and that we should ask for them to pray with us and for us to Jesus.
Consequently, if the Protestant wants to maintain that there is an exception for those members of the body of Christ in heaven, and that we do not need them, then it is incumbent upon those Protestants to find a verse that makes that exception or to find a verse in the Bible that makes the claim that there are actually two bodies of Christ, one for those in heaven and another body of Christ for those on earth to make their case that “the Bible does not encourage us to ask those in Heaven to pray with us to Jesus.” And of course, Protestants cannot do that because the Bible does not make those exceptions.
Therefore, the Bible encourages us to ask the Saints in Heaven to pray with us to Jesus for our spiritual needs.
And this is exactly how the early Church interpreted the Bible, and so we do.
More Details . . .
That to pray means to ask can be seen in King James Bible as well as more modern literature such as Shakespeare. The context shows that it just means to ask or beseech.
Genesis 13:8 “And Abram said unto
"I pray thee" was one of Shakespeare's favorite phrases. In the play Romeo and Juliet, Juliet says: “I would thou hadst my bones, and I thy news: Nay, come, I pray thee, speak; good, good nurse, speak!” (2.5.30)
So, when Catholics speak about praying to the Saints in Heaven we are referring to when we are asking for their help by praying with us to Jesus. While on earth we offer holy prayers for others. This is a manifestation of God’s grace working in our hearts, and in our love for them. God blesses us with the ability to enter into His holy work by offering prayers.
God is all-powerful. He enables us to do the good things that we do. It would be wrong to say that God is not powerful enough to enable the Saints in Heaven to hear all our prayers at once. (Since there are only a finite number of people that will be created there will only be a finite number of prayers from earth. Therefore, a finite and not an infinite power would be required. God has created space and time and therefore He is not bound by either. Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:9 and John 14:12.)
God works through a good Bible preacher to help others. God also works through the Bible publisher. He also, by His grace, works through those who offer holy prayers.
When a holy person dies his soul goes to heaven and in most cases their soul awaits the resurrection of their body on the last day. Since their soul is united with Jesus, the Author of Life (Acts 3:15) they are even more alive than we are.
“Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’ ”
Cf. John 6:47-51, Matthew 22:32, Luke 20:38, and John 8:51
Just as Jesus can work through the saints on earth by their prayers He can even more so work though those who are united to Him in heaven. Since they are closer to the source of all True Love, God Himself, they love us even more. 1 John 4:16
“ … God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” The Saints in heaven have profound concern for what is going on down here.
“And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in
“When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God. They cried out in a loud voice, ‘How long will it be, holy and true master, before you sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’ Each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to be patient a little while longer until the number was filled of their fellow servants and brothers who were going to be killed as they had been.’
“And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, ‘We give thanks to thee, Lord God Almighty, who art and who wast, that thou hast taken thy great power and begun to reign. The nations raged, but thy wrath came … and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.’ ”
Hebrews 12:1 says that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Looking back at chapter 11 verses 4 – 32 shows that Paul was talking about the Old Testament saints. They had to wait for Jesus to pay the price of their sins to get into heaven and now they cheer us on to fight the good fight that Paul talks about in 1 Timothy 6:11-12.
Hebrews 12: 1, 18, 22-23
1. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us …
18 You have not approached that which could be touched …
22 No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect ”
Also, in Job we see God telling Job’s false friends Eliphaz and Temanite that they are to go to Job and ask for Job’s prayers. God tells them that he will accept Job’s prayers on their behalf.
“ … the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am angry with you and with your two friends; for you have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job. Now, therefore, take seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up a holocaust for yourselves; and let my servant Job pray for you; for his prayer I will accept, not to punish you severely. For you have not spoken rightly concerning me, as has my servant Job.’ Then Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, went and did as the LORD had commanded them. And the LORD accepted the intercession of Job.”
Cf. 1 Kings 13:4-6, and Genesis 20:7
And we also see in the New Testament this Biblical encouragement to ask for other’s prayers.
“I urge you, (brothers,) by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in the struggle by your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the disobedient in Judea, and that my ministry for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the holy ones …”
Also see Col 4:3; 1 Thess 5:25; Eph 6:18-19; 2 Thess 3:1
The prayer of others can be life giving.
1 John 5:16
“If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life.”
When the saints on earth die and go to heaven they are more righteous because they are even closer to God, and therefore they are even more open to the workings of God’s grace so that their prayers become even more efficacious for us. Asking for the prayers of others cannot violate Christ’s role as sole mediator, see Romans 15:30-32 above. We are all required to love one another and the Saints in heaven express their love for us by praying for us.
The ancient practice of asking the Saints in heaven to pray with us and for us goes back to the early church. The Bible shows that they are in heaven interceding on our behalf and taking our prayers up to God.
“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.”
“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; and the smoke of the incense rose with theprayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.”
The Saints in heaven belong to the Body of Christ. And the Christians on earth also belong to the Body of Christ. So, we have the question, “How many Bodies does Christ have ?”
1 Corinthians 12:27
“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:20
“But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
Cf. Eph 4:4;
Therefore, the saints here on earth are united with the Saints in heaven in the one Body of Christ. We would be wrong to ignore the help that Jesus wants to give us through them and their intercession on our behalf.
“… pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.”
We need the prayers of the Saints in Heaven because we are all one family, and part of following Jesus is being humble enough to accept that we the help that God wants to give through His creatures in heaven. Luke 22:43
1 Corinthians 12:20-21
“But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I do not need you.’ ”
Therefore, it is a good and holy thing to avail ourselves of help that God wants to give to us through their intercession done in Jesus Christ.
We will never love Mary as much as Jesus does. We don't have to be afraid of Mary. She is in heaven and her will is completely conformed to God's will [ as will our own when we go to heaven.] She points us to her Son, and tells us
John 2:5 “Do whatever he tells you.”
And Jesus gives us an example of humility by accepting help from a heavenly angel.
It is also worth noting that the only disciple that remained faithful in following Jesus all the way to the cross was the one who was strengthened by walking with Mary. It is revealed that this “beloved disciple” is none other than John the Apostle, the author of the fourth Gospel. See John 19:26 and John 21:20-24.
Some people see it as Jesus or Mary, but that is not correct. Mary and all the other Saints in heaven are united to Jesus. Matthew 18:20 states: “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
When we go to Mary, Jesus is more present not less present. Jesus came to us through Mary, and so we imitate Him when we go to Him through her.