Intercession. Help!



I’m having a discussion in another forum and I’ve stumbled upon a question I’m having trouble with. It involves the nun who recently claimed that Pope John Paul II interceded to cure her parkinsons. One of the comments on the story was:

*"kindly explain… was it the nun’s faith in her God which cured her? Or was it the intercession of the dead-and-soon-to-be-saint Pope John Paul which sent her disease into remission?

If the former, why this talk of the former pope’s saintly intervention? And if the latter, shouldn’t people be earning God’s mercy through their own efforts, rather than through a former pope ‘putting in a good word for them’ with God?" *

I responded:

“Richard Roskell, the Catholic (and Orthodox) belief in saintly intercession is rooted in the same concept in which other intercessionary prayers are rooted. Most Christians believe that by praying for others, by imploring God to help them, we can actually make a difference. Catholics and Orthodox take this further, by saying that those in heaven can also pray for us. If we ask for the intercession (the prayers) of someone who we believe is in heaven, and these efforts bear miraculous fruits (by the grace of God), it is believed that the person who interceded (prayed) on our behalf must be in heaven. This is the purpose of beatification; it simply affirms (not infallibly, either) that the person in question has achieved eternal life.”

He then replied:

*"Thanks for your comments. I confess to still be puzzled, though.

Why is it necessary for a person in heaven to intercede between the sufferer and God? God knows everything already, yes? And the sufferer is either worthy of God’s mercy, or not. If God is going to perform a miracle, surely it will happen anyway without someone in heaven going to bat for you?

But all of that begs the question, anyway. Why implore God to intercede for any reason? Does God not know whether or not you’re worthy of a miracle? And in God’s grand design, he will certainly know whether performing a miracle for you is a good idea or not. Either you’re asking God to do what he’s going to do anyway… or you’re asking God to do something that you don’t deserve or is contrary to the Big Picture.

Or is God the kind of deity who would simply grow impatient with all the imploring and give people a miracle just to shut them up, even though they don’t really deserve it?

The long and short of it from my perspective is that asking God for a favour is an unworthy act. He’s either going to do it anyway, in which case you’re bugging him for no reason…or he’s going to leave you to your fate, in which case imploring him for mercy is futile and demeaning."*

Now I’m really stuck. What should I say to him?

Thanks in advance for your help!


If God already knows everything, according to his logic, why is it necessary for us to pray at all - ever, in any circumstance? Why do we ever need to ask forgiveness of God when we sin, since he already knows when we’re sorry?

Yet we are commanded - not just to pray for ourselves but for others. It’s there in the very words of the Lord’s Prayer - OUR Father (not MY Father) … give US (not give ME) forgive US (not forgive ME). We’re commanded by Christ to pray on behalf of others as well as ourselves.

Every parent LOVES their child to talk to them, and often. Even if the child says nothing that is new to the parent. Even if the child mostly speaks to make demands.

God is a father, yes? What makes you think he’s any different?

God of course, as a loving father, wants us to love and care for each other as well. Just as the father in the story of the Prodigal Son asks the older brother to rejoice that the younger has returned. So it also pleases God when we intercede on each other’s behalf.

So we pray partly because it pleases God, and partly because we need to. I pray for others because I have a human need to pray for them, especially if I can’t do anything more concrete to help. And I ask them to pray for me because I have a human need to know that they are doing so, even if they can’t concretely help me.

As Catholics, we believe those in heaven are every bit as alive and active members of the Body of Christ as we are. They are never, not even by physical death, separated from any other member of the body.

We are connected through Christ, the head of the body, to ALL its members, those currently in heaven as well as those on earth. All alike intercede and pray with each other. And it pleases God to have it so.


Maybe I can take a stab at this. Very good rebuttle though!

Why then did God send the Prophets? He worked through them didn’t He? Why, if He was going to do something anyway, why wouldn’t He just do it and not use the Prophet? What about Moses? God worked many miracles through Moses? If He wanted the Isrealites free from Egypt, why didn’t He just make it happen instead of using Moses?

Why did Jesus listen to His own Mother, Mary, at the wedding at Cana, when they ran out of wine? She told them to do whatever her Son told them to do. She interceeded for the wedding party and Jesus granted the petition - He filled the jars with the best wine, not the least - at His mother’s request!

Why, in these cases (and I’m sure there’s more) did God act through people? Because He “decided,” very early on that we were to be instruments in own salvation. The path of our salvation was already laid out in Genesis 3:15 when He says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman (Mary), and between your offspring and hers (Jesus).” It’s already established that a human woman will an instrument of God’s salvation.

Why would He send His only Son, in human form, to die a miserable and agonizing death for our salvation? If He knew/knows He’s going to save us all anyway, then why use a human to do it?

Why would He use Peter to raise Tabitha from death? The disciples sent two men to Peter to ask him to come to her. If God was going to make her come back to life, why wouldn’t He just do it without Peter? It is for God’s glorification that He allows these things to happen.

God has always worked through humans - we are human and as such need the human connection. It’s God’s glory that shines through other humans when He allows a miraculous event. It’s not by the “saint’s” doing, it’s God’s doing. He still works through us humans. It gives us hope that one day, if we perservere like those saints and completely turn our lives over to Him that we will one day be and do the glory of God.

Hope that helps?


Truly, none of us “deserves” God’s goodness; it is always a free gift.

I think that “just to shut them up” may be putting it a bit strongly, but Jesus tells us that persistence in prayer is rewarded:

Luke 18:
1: And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.
2: He said, "In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man;
3: and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Vindicate me against my adversary.' 4: For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself,Though I neither fear God nor regard man,
5: yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.’"
6: And the Lord said, "Hear what the unrighteous judge says.
7: And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them?

How can praying for God’s mercy be “an unworthy act” or “futile and demeaning”? Scripture is full of exhortations to pray, indeed, to “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The Holy Spirit would not instruct us through the inspired writings of Scripture to do something that is unworthy, futile, and demeaning. God is a loving Father. He can and often does give us what we pray for (as long as it is in conformity with His will and His infinitely superior knowledge of what is good for us). Even more important, prayer strengthens our relationship with this loving Father, whether or not it is answered the way we want.


[quote=Dauphin]shouldn’t people be earning God’s mercy through their own efforts

You might want to read up on the heresy of Pelagianism.


It is quite contradicting for some who do not believe in the intercession of saints, but when they ask somebody to pray for them, and their prayers granted, they come to thanks those who had prayed for them.


God doesn’t need our help in anything, nor can we say or do anything that truly changes God’s mind. Everything God tells us to do is directed towards one end - our own salvation and sanctification, and that of others. It’s all about preparing us (prayer, prayee, others) for the total self-giving which is heavenly perfection.

There is a clear and consistent theme in Judeo-Christianity, which is that God, who needs neither us nor our efforts, yet invites us to join with Him in every good thing. This is just one example of that.


Sounds like he needs a large dose of “God is our Father.”

Does your friend have children? Do his children understand that he will always do what is in their best interest, no matter how much effort it takes? Does he believe that this knowledge on their part somehow makes it wrong for them still to ask him for things?

I hope that when I have children one day, my children will know that I’ll do whatever I can to help them. I hope that they know that if I have the time and the energy, I’ll always wrestle with them or take them to the park or walk around the neighborhood with them. But I really hope that they still ask me for those things! The thought that their knowledge that I will always do those things with them might somehow prevent them from asking me to be with them brings tears to my eyes–I can’t imagine loving my children so much and not hearing them say, “Daddy, can we go on a walk?” “Daddy, can we play ball in the backyard?”

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11)

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15)

Let’s go to God as little children do, and ask him for things even though we know he’ll give us what we need.



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