Answering a former Catholic's questions on prayer and scripture

1 Tim 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. It looks to me like that makes the point for me that you don’t need to go through any mediator, such as a priest or a saint, just pray to Jesus if you want mediation. When Jesus prayed he prayed to God. So why shouldn’t man?

I can see your point that, according to the Bible, dead people in heaven are aware of what we are doing. I think it’s rather convenient that dead people in heaven can see what we are doing but we have no idea what they are up to. It’s sort of a one way communication barrier. Anyway, so we pray to a dead saint and that saint then prays to God on our behalf, right? Why on earth would you do that when the Bible says that all prayers will be answered:

See Mark 11:22-24 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Why go through an intermediary when Jesus himself said that if you just pray to God you will get anything you ask for?

However…this Bible quote is demonstrably untrue. No one has ever moved a mountain… I mean if anyone had ever moved a mountain with prayer then it would prove the existance of God, and we can’t have that.

Nor can anyone say that “whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” That would also prove the existance of God, and God is a trickster. He doesn’t want people to be able to prove he exists.

Believe me when I tell you, if it were true that whatever I asked for in prayer was given to me I would be at church every Sunday singing his praises. I would pray every morning noon and night. I would love God and I would spread the gospel. I might even be a preacher.

But no. When I fervently prayed and begged and pleaded with God all I got was stone cold silence. I believed in him. I went to church. I believed.

I wish it was true. I wish we got everything we asked for and believed in. But it’s just not true. It is so obviously and demonstrably not true.

Look at this passage that Jesus said, "“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.” Ok, imagine a preacher who truly believes in God. He has not a doubt in his heart. He could hold a news conference an say, “Hey all you people who don’t believe in God, watch this!” Then he prayed and moved a mountain on TV. That, to me, would prove the existance of God.

Look, I’m sorry. I know you are very religious and God is very important in your life. I used to believe in God. But when I needed him the most he wasn’t there for me.

What’s the best way to answer his questions?

Well, the reason is that two people praying to Jesus is better than one.

If you pray that a saint will pray for you and they do and you then pray to Jesus (as you should as well) then you’ll have double the prayers.

Also, it’s pretty clear in the Bible that God is more likely to answer the prayers of the righteous and who’s more righteous than a saint?

It’s sort of like this:

If a child ask his father for something, he may get it.
If the child asks his mother to put in a good word with his father about what he wants, he’s a lot more likely to get it.

If the boy asks his father and asks his mother (who puts in a good word) and does all that his father asks of him, he is a lot more likely to get what he wants.

To state it simply, if you ask God yourself and ask the saints to pray for you and live as close to righteous life as you can then your chances of getting a prayer answered are a lot better.

Note also that you are not really praying to a Saint as much as you are asking them to pray for you.

You might try sharing the info in the following tracts with him:

catholic.com/library/Praying_to_the_Saints.asp

catholic.com/library/Intercession_of_the_Saints.asp

Also, he’s misusing the Bible to the point that it isn’t the Word of God for him, I believe. It’s something else.

The Word of God is Jesus Christ, Himself.

There are currently two main methods in which the “Word of God” is communicated to us, orally and in writing. (See 2 Thes 2:15, which makes the two equally important.).

Jesus never wrote a book. He never instructed the Apostles or anyone else to write anything, either. He gave us the deposit of faith orally by orally teaching the Apostles and commanding them to do likewise. Eventually, SOME of what Jesus did and taught was written down. In fact, a majority of what Jesus did and taught was NOT written down. (See John 21:25) But, Jesus commanded the Apostles to go forth and teach ALL that He had taught. (See Matt. 28:20.)

Here’s the proper way to read Scripture, especially for Catholics:

  1. The Bible should always be considered as a whole, not in snippets taken out of context.

  2. The Bible should always be interpreted in light of Holy Tradition (Oral Tradition/teaching, which the Apostles passed on to the bishops throughout the 2000 years of Christianity.)

  3. The Bible should always be interpreted in light of the analogy of the faith as explained by the Magisterium of the Church (the Pope and all the bishops in league with him).

Without any one of these three, no matter how “educated” you are in the Bible, ancient languages, ancient history, etc., you cannot have any guarantee of arriving at the right answer. Witness the tens of thousands of man-made Protestant denominations which have cropped up in the last 500 years (and counting!). The truth cannot contradict itself, but that is exactly what Protestantism does. It allows every man, woman, and child to interpret the Scriptures for themselves, with no final authority to assure they’re correct. For example, Baptists do not believe in infant baptism. Lutherans and Episcopalians do. Yet, both read the same Bible and both claim to be led by the Holy Spirit in their interpretation. Both cannot be right because they hold contradictory interpretations of the same Scripture.

This is where I’d start, anyway, with that guy. :slight_smile:

Then, you can share with him, perhaps, the free video on “Origin of the Bible” at the following link:

alabamacatholicresources.com/Bible.html

Praying to Saints (well for one thing they are not dead…they are more alive then we are)…is the living out of charity…God wants it this way…just as he wants us to pray for each other here…yes we go right to God …and yes Jesus is the only mediator (we are in him)…but God wants us to live not just “me and God”…and he wants a whole communion of love. And heck…those who are in Heaven …of course they want to pray for us…it is all about the communion of love etc.

A for the more weighty trouble they have…

One must understand Jesus correctly…

For example when he says “if your eye causes you to sin…pluck it out…”

He is using a semitic way of speaking…a kind of teaching by exaggeration.

What Jesus says about the mountain…again could be seen as a way of saying “have faith…and pray”…not a literal “pray and the mountain moves”…rather that prayer can make possible things that seem impossible etc…(though it is Possible that such could happen…for God could do such…)

(though some have had the gift of “miraculous faith” where lots of out of the ordinary things have happened…this too could be an understanding…Jesus saying have faith…and pointing to that some have this gift like this…so exercise the Faith you have and also trust…)

Prayer is a reality. God does answers prayers…

but God is not a vending machine as we sometimes seem to think…where we put in our prayers and get the answer we select.

Miracles do happen (like at Lourdes) but not every miracle asked for is granted…

yes much is a mystery…

Jesus loves us …and in him and thus in his Church we have life…he hears our prayers…but does not resolve all mysteries for us now…

Read the chapters in Pope John Paul II’s book “Crossing the Threshold of Hope”…on this area…suffering, cross, prayer etc…about how Jesus’s answer is to enter into our suffering…by his death on the Cross…he is with us he loves us…

In Christ is our true life.

For the celibacy part, there are many many good non-catholic preacher/priests. The way you said that it takes so much time of a man’s life to be a priest that if he had children they wouldn’t turn out right is questionable. Maybe if they had more priests to do the job then it wouldn’t take so much of their lives to do it. Maybe they would be able to get more priests if it weren’t for the celibacy thing. Also, take for instance soldiers. My brother who is in the army, has spent more than half his children’s lives in god forsaken lands such as Iraq and Afghanistan. And they also get moved every 2 years or so when they are transferred o other bases. It’s just something they have to deal with. It’s not ideal, I agree, but it’s not impossible.

The bible quotes are iffy too. Like Matt 19. Read it in context. They were talking about divorce:

9"And I [Jesus] say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

10The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.”

11But He said to them, "Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.

12"For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it."

Dude, I think verse 10 means it would be better not to get married after you divorce your wife. And dude, a eunuch is a dude who had his balls chopped off. I can’t get that you shouldn’t get married if you want to be a priest out of Matt 19.

And Matt 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” That doens’t mean what you said. You said “Jesus says that whoever gives up children for the sake of His name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life.” but the verse says whoever LEAVES his family will recieve it. Dude. That’s two different things.

Anyway, I’m not going to go through each bible verse, I read them but I’m not going to address each one. I agree with you that a man has a right not to marry if he wishes. But I want you to think about how it affects a man to deny his natural (God given) urges to take a wife and have children. That’s what the church is asking of these men. And according to the bible it’s optional! Why does only the Catholic church require it when the bible clearly says it’s optional?

Also, maybe you could convert to Episcopalianism. I was raised Episcopal. It’s basically the same thing as Catholicism except priests can marry and a couple of other minor details. The mass is virtually identical.

Anyway I gotta get back to work, take care.

How about that?

1 cr 7-32-34
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord;

1Cr 7:33 but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife,

1Cr 7:34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband.

It’s clear that priests do this because they are to be focused on seving the Lord not dealing with family issues. It also happens to be practiced my Jesus and Peter.

Dude, I think verse 10 means it would be better not to get married after you divorce your wife. And dude, a eunuch is a dude who had his balls chopped off. I can’t get that you shouldn’t get married if you want to be a priest out of Matt 19.

Verse 9-10 simply is more about saying, “if you are going to fight with your wife and divorce her then you should not get married in the first place”. Marriage is a life long commitment, if you are willing to divorce you shouldn’t get married. Since this time, the church has been able to allow annulments.

And Matt 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.” That doens’t mean what you said. You said “Jesus says that whoever gives up children for the sake of His name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life.” but the verse says whoever LEAVES his family will recieve it. Dude. That’s two different things.

This is just simply stating that the bigger the sacrifice you make, the bigger commitment to the Lord you’ve made and you will be rewarded for that.

Anyway, I’m not going to go through each bible verse, I read them but I’m not going to address each one. I agree with you that a man has a right not to marry if he wishes. But I want you to think about how it affects a man to deny his natural (God given) urges to take a wife and have children. That’s what the church is asking of these men. And according to the bible it’s optional! Why does only the Catholic church require it when the bible clearly says it’s optional?

Part of what I posted about answers this but my opinion is that Priests being unmarried and not having romantic relationships is the best for their parish. How many Evangelical preachers have we seen who have had affairs and other family, moral issues happen? Guess what happened to their churches? They went under.

Not only that but if you’ve talked to a priest you would know they don’t really have time for family. Our priest (Father Paul) says mass 5 days per week (the associate priest does the other two). He attends RCIA classes on Wed. He’s also responsible for attending to many of the prisons/jails and drug rehab facilities in the region so he’s driving all of over the place everday. On top of that he’s the head of our parish and has to administer to the needs of the Parishioners and the Church itself. This is not to mention the other duties to the Catholic Church as a whole.

I highly doubt he gets much free time to himself, much less the amount of time needed for a family.

Also, maybe you could convert to Episcopalianism. I was raised Episcopal. It’s basically the same thing as Catholicism except priests can marry and a couple of other minor details. The mass is virtually identical.

Anyway I gotta get back to work, take care.

This part is so wrong I don’t even know where to starte.

#1- Episcopal churches allow gay priests and are for gay marriage.
#2- The Apocrypha are not considered divinely inspired books
#3- As far as I know, don’t believe that you are taking in the body and blood during the Eucharist.
#4- They don’t honor Mary to any acceptable degree or pray the rosary.

Just to begin.

Here’s how I’d respond to this. First, I sympathize with the difficulty of staying faithful when it seems God does not respond to prayer. But your friend seems to think he can ask for anything rather than anything that is good for the person, which is the intent of the text. There are really only 4 ways God can respond to any prayer:

  1. No.
  2. No, but here’s something better.
  3. Yes.
  4. Yes, but not yet.

Options 1, 2, and 4 can seem like God did not hear or respond when He did. Your friend claimed to believe, yet bailed out when he thought God was silent. Your friend did not so much believe without seeing. Your friend simply believed God would answer “yes” which is different than the belief in God’s sovereignty, sacrifice, power, etc. to which man’s wisdom is subordinate.

The reason we are given the child-father analogy in Scripture is to help us understand our position in relation to the Father. If the child asks for candy all the time, he might think his father mean or uncaring if the father refuses. The child’s capacity to understand is inferior to the father’s. Shall the child deny the father due trust as a result? The child may feel that way, but the child would be acting in ignorance. In John 6, Peter was a great example of not understanding and remaining faithful. Jesus asked the confused Peter if he would leave. Peter responded: “To whom shall we go?” Although Peter did not understand, he remained faithful there.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.