Praying to Saints and their Intercession


#1

Greetings,

Today at church, going through the WMCOF, we went over Questions 178 and 179. Basically, “What is Prayer?” and “Are we to pray to God only?”

In true Reformed fashion, my pastor made diligent use of the pulpit in pointing out the “errors” of Roman Catholicism. I’ll not be as diligent as he was, however, I’d like to present some things for discussion. Surely these objections to prayer to and intercession of the saints can be refuted by Catholics, but they seem to be pretty strong objections. I’ll try to uphold my assertions and refute yours.

  1. Answering prayer requires searching of the heart, and only God can search our hearts.
    I Kings 8:39,40 Also consider Proverbs 28:9

  2. We are told in Scripture "O thou Who dost hear prayer, to Thee all men come."
    Psalm 65:2

  3. God is to be believed in for salvation, and we are to call in prayer to the One Whom we believe in for salvation.
    Romans 10:14 - We are not to “believe in a departed saint” for salvation, so we are not to call upon them in prayer either.

  4. We understand prayer to be a special part of religious worship, and the Trinity alone is to be worshipped.
    Matthew 4:10, I Corinthinans 1:2

  5. We are specifically instructed to call upon God, not to call upon others in heaven to call upon God.
    Psalm 50:15, Philippians 4:6

I should add also, with fear of bringing up too many objections, that it would be impossible for a created being (ie. Mary) to hear such a number of prayers at once. That’s something only God can do.

This isn’t meant to ridicule your Catholic beliefs, rather it is meant to be the ultimate apologetic confrontation on this topic.

Most of these you’ve probably heard and answered time and time again. At least one, I hope, is new to you.


#2

Ok, following up my opening thread, and in anticipation to some Scriptural arguments in the near future, let me set aside one passage you may be inclined to use at some point:

John 2 / I Kings 2:13-21
Your argument would go like this: Mary told Jesus to take care of the “we’re out of wine” problem at the wedding. And He did. This is like in I Kings 2 where Adonijah went to Bathsheba (King Solomon’s mother) and asked her to ask King Solomon for Abishag the Shunammite to be given to him in marriage. And Solomon says to Bathsheba “Ask, my mother, for I will not refuse you.” So, when we ask Mary to ask of something to Jesus, He will not refuse her, and we will get request.

I’ll throw that aside now by saying simply “READ ON!” For this is like saying “The Bible affirms the civil government’s imminent domain of property in I Kings 21.” But, likewise, if you read on, you’ll find that God sent Elijah to Ahab to prophesy his death. But he repented, and God said that He would not kill Ahab, but would rather kill his sons for his sin (taking Naboth’s vineyard and Jezebel conspiring to murder Naboth for his refusal to give up his land).

So, with that said, it’s the same here. Solomon saw right through the wicked plot of Adonijah, where silly Bathsheba was not able to. So Solomon sent his trusted servant/military leader, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada to kill Adonijah (I Kings 2:25). Remember, Adonijah had been previously crowned king, because he was next in line to be king (I Kings 1:18) and Solomon promised to not harm Adonijah if he remained upright, but if wickedness be found in him, he would die (I Kings 1:49-53). Solomon also dismissed Abiathar the priest, and had Joab put to death as well (I Kings 2:26-34).

So what becomes of this cross-reference to prove praying to Mary? It is made into a sham and makes Mary look like Bathsheba, who did not see the workings of a conspiracy that Solomon so clearly saw. Adonijah did not get his request that he asked Bathsheba for, rather he got KILLED!


#3

Ok, I knew there had to be at least one fairly recent post addressing this. I found it

[forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=18301](http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=18301)

That doesn’t mean I want my post ignored. If you would like, just pick one objection and respond. Whatever, I’m hoping to discuss, not debate.


#4

Unfortunately, I’m sure “someone” will turn it into a debate.


#5

Hi Rob,

All your objections seem to be rooted in the mistaken view that Catholic prayer can be addressed to a Saint without also (and primarily) being addressed to God. Many non-Catholics miss the fact that all prayer is implicitely to God through Christ. The Saints are part of the body of Christ, and if someone whispered in your ear, and you said why are you talking to my ear instead of to me, I believe they would be rather bewildered.

I am often bewildered by the kinds of objections that you raised. Our understanding of heaven is a sharing in God’s life. That means He shares some of His knowledge and power with those united with Him in the mystical body of Christ. The Saints could not even hear your prayer if God did not share it with them, and did not permit them to add their own supplication to yours. Both your prayer, and that of the interceding Saint, are not only directed to God but made possible by His own grace.

Let me call your attention to several important Scripture verses regarding prayer. The first is from Rom 8:
26 And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

The second is from 1 Timothy:
(1Ti 2:5) For there is one God: and one mediator of God and men, the **MAN **Christ Jesus:

I have bolded the word man in Timothy because this at first seems to present some conflict with verse 26 above which identifies the Spirit, who is NOT a man as another mediator (intercessor) between God and men. The resolution of this is that the Spirit is indeed an intercessor but not a direct one. He does so through the Saints. In fact the word “for” in verse 27 in “for the saints” is the preposition “huper” in Greek, which can also be translated as through.

This is in perfect conformity with the idea of the Communion of saints, where God Himself (the Spirit) gives us his grace to pray to/through/with the Saints in heaven (or earth) to God through the one mediator Jesus Christ. Although there is only one mediator between God and men, there are many mediators between men and men, and Jesus, as the God-man is uniquely fitted for that role, and the Saints being the “many mediators.”

I hope that helps you understand the Catholic viewpoint.


#6

Hi ReformedRob,

I myself am not very good at enlightened discussion. For that reason I turn you to Patrick Madrid and his book, *Any Friend of God’s Is a Friend of Mine *which is designed to address the issue of Saints from a Catholic and biblical perspective. It is directed to those who ask or have to answer questions such as the ones you posted here.

ANY FRIEND OF GOD’S IS A FRIEND OF MINE


#7

[quote=Psalm45:9]Unfortunately, I’m sure “someone” will turn it into a debate.
[/quote]

You’re right! I forgot I said I would try to refute the Catholic responses. That would be a debate. Ok, I’ll be the “someone.” But a debate can be polite and not mean-spirited.


#8

[quote=Nate]Hi Rob,

All your objections seem to be rooted in the mistaken view that Catholic prayer can be addressed to a Saint without also (and primarily) being addressed to God. Many non-Catholics miss the fact that all prayer is implicitely to God through Christ.
[/quote]

Thanks Nate,

Wow, uh, what can I say? Maybe I’ll learn more if I don’t object to what you said. That was helpful. I’d like to think I had a good grasp on it, but the Larger Catechism points that were made set me back a bit. What about the situation with Bathsheba. In Hahn’s lecture on Mary (Catholic Adult Education Video Program), he made a point from that I Kings text, and he’s not alone in using that I’m sure. He didn’t just make that up. But did’nt I significantly “refute” it in my post #2?


#9

[quote=AServantofGod]Hi ReformedRob,

ANY FRIEND OF GOD’S IS A FRIEND OF MINE
[/quote]

Hey Thanks. I might get that in my next book order, or try to find it sometime before then. Unfortunately, the local Christian bookstore doesn’t carry many Catholic books. In fact, I asked for a book of Papal Encyclicals (any encyclicals) and the girl I talked to was like “What?”

I know where many are on-line though. Like the Vatican’s website and dailycatholic.org


#10

Protestants limit Christian belief and practice to what is written in their (66-book) Bible, particularly the New Testament. Their history stretches back 487 years, to the 16th century.

Catholic history goes back to the days when the Apostles walked the earth. We pray to the saints because that’s what we’ve always done. It’s part of our heritage, our tradition, our culture. We learned it from the Apostles.

Absent an admonition in Scripture that says, “Don’t pray to the saints” [there isn’t any], we’ll keep on doing what we’ve done for the past 2,000 years – asking members of our family on Earth, in Purgatory, or in Heaven, to pray for us.

On the tomb of the Valerii in the first century necropolis under the Basilica of St. Peter on Vatican Hill in Rome, near St. Peter’s tomb, is the following inscription:

"Peter pray for the pious Christian men buried near your body."

Peter was crucified upside down in Rome by order of Nero in A.D. 64.

JMJ Jay

Reference: The Tomb of St. Peter, The New Discoveries in the Sacred Grottoes of the Vatican, by Margherita Guarducci, George G. Harrap & Co., London, 1959. Guarducci was the principal archaeologist in the excavations beneath St. Peter’s Basilica and is a specialist in epigraphy.


#11

[quote=Reformed Rob]Hey Thanks. I might get that in my next book order, or try to find it sometime before then. Unfortunately, the local Christian bookstore doesn’t carry many Catholic books. In fact, I asked for a book of Papal Encyclicals (any encyclicals) and the girl I talked to was like “What?”

I know where many are on-line though. Like the Vatican’s website and dailycatholic.org
[/quote]

papalencyclicals.com/


#12

Ok, thanks yall for your help. This thread is about to give out, it’s been treading water for many hours, and doesn’t have much help. I’ll let it sink. It’s expendable.

Rob


#13

Don’t go yet!!! You are such a nice Christian to “talk” to.

How about this.

  1. Answering prayer requires searching of the heart, and only God can search our hearts.
    I Kings 8:39,40 Also consider Proverbs 28:9

Yes, only God can search the heart. We are not asking for the saint to search our heart, we are asking the saint to pray for us. If this were the case, how can any Christian on earth pray for any other Christian. I mean, I can’t read your heart when you ask me to pray for you. That clearly contradicts the Bible where we see Christians asking other Christians to pray for each other. We are not placing God like qualities on the saints, you are.

  1. We are told in Scripture "O thou Who dost hear prayer, to Thee all men come."
    Psalm 65:2

Yes, all men come to God. The saints in heaven also take our prayers to God. Where is the problem? Once again, asking the saints in heaven to pray for us is the same as asking any living Christian to pray for you.

  1. God is to be believed in for salvation, and we are to call in prayer to the One Whom we believe in for salvation.
    Romans 10:14 - We are not to “believe in a departed saint” for salvation, so we are not to call upon them in prayer either.

:bible1: Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?

It appears as if this verse has been taken out of context. The title right before this verse is Israel Rejects the Gospel. **Catholics do not believe in a departed saint for salvation. **

It is quite apparent you have a very narrow definition of prayer. The word pray has very old meaning of to ask. In England, they still ask a judge “I pray you will listen to this”. Obviously they are not “praying” to a judge like we pray to God. Pray to the Saints is used in the old sense of the word. All of your understanding of the saints hinges on believing Catholics when we say (as well as teach) that pray=to ask when refering to saints. Pray=to worship, when refering to God. They do not have interchangable meanings.

  1. We understand prayer to be a special part of religious worship, and the Trinity alone is to be worshipped.
    Matthew 4:10, I Corinthinans 1:2

Once again, you have narrowed the meaning of prayer. Prayer as you mean it certainly should only be offered to God. Prayer as in to ask can be directed at anyone.

  1. We are specifically instructed to call upon God, not to call upon others in heaven to call upon God.
    Psalm 50:15, Philippians 4:6

Both of these verses tell us to pray to God. So is Paul wrong when he asks all the Christians to pray for him? There is no difference between asking those in heaven to pray for us and asking for those on earth to pray for us. Those verses do not say anything of NOT calling on others in heaven to pray for us. But the Bible is filled with people asking other christians to pray for each other. Early history shows us that 1st century Christians wrote on the tombs of those who had passed and asked those who had passed to pray for those on earth. Were they wrong too?

I should add also, with fear of bringing up too many objections, that it would be impossible for a created being (ie. Mary) to hear such a number of prayers at once. That’s something only God can do.

Of course it is impossible for Mary to hear all the prayers…except for one thing. All things are possible for God. God chooses to allow them to hear those prayers and God chooses to listen to those prayers. It is all through Christ that it is possible.

I hope this helps a little.

God Bless,
Maria


#14

[quote=Reformed Rob]Thanks Nate,

Wow, uh, what can I say? Maybe I’ll learn more if I don’t object to what you said. That was helpful. I’d like to think I had a good grasp on it, but the Larger Catechism points that were made set me back a bit. What about the situation with Bathsheba. In Hahn’s lecture on Mary (Catholic Adult Education Video Program), he made a point from that I Kings text, and he’s not alone in using that I’m sure. He didn’t just make that up. But did’nt I significantly “refute” it in my post #2?
[/quote]

ReformedRob, you seem like quite a funny guy. I like how you present your arguments with great humility, that is quite cool.

As a precursor to discussion about the “Mary is like Bathsheba” post I wonder if you are familiar with typology?


#15

Also important to note is that the saint in heaven has no conception of time. What is time to someone who has eternal life? When we talk about eternal life, we don’t mean existence that continues forever, we mean existence that is not subject to time.


#16

Thanks for the floatie there MariaG!!!

It’s so intimidating being in my church, considering some of these things, wanting to believe them, and the pastor and at least a couple friends knowing where I’m at, and then my pastor comes up with a sermon like that one!!

I’ll get that recommended book soon. It’s not that big of an issue for me, I can believe the Catholic way of seeing it. At least if I’m wrong, I’m in “good company” with the Church Fathers. But sometimes other people make a big issue out of things.

I’ll read over your answers again. Thanks so much for commenting on each one.

Rob


#17

Yes, I’m familiar with typology, and the quadriga. I should say that before I learned about the quadriga and Catholic typology, I only thought I knew about typology. Not that I know much now, but I’ve learned some.
Most recently I’ve listened to a Matatics’ lecture on typology and he brought up some things that were so cool.
Like, Genesis 2;4-7 and I Corinthians 15:45-47. The first man was created from the earth before it was tilled or corrupted by man’s sin, and Christ, being the second Adam, was formed out of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, before she knew man or sin. He said it better than that, but you get the jist of it I’m sure.

So yeah, the typology of I Kings 2 would lend to at least the principle of “praying to Mary” to use the Catholic lingo. Even if the results were less than favorable to Adonijah.

I’d compare that to II Samuel 7:12-15. Obviously (or maybe obvious only in light of the New Testament?) this is a Messianic type passage. But, if it refers to Christ, then does that mean that Christ might sin, since chastisement for sin is spoken of? Well, no, at least I don’t think so. We know that Christ was stricken for OUR sins, and He did learn obedience from the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8-10), but He didn’t personally commit sin.

So I realize that even the best typological passages have to be taken with a little “reserve.” I think that’s the way to say it.

But if I wouldn’t have said that, how would you respond to what I said about Bathsheba? Like, if I were talking to somebody about this topic, I probably wouldn’t use it as a “proof text.”


#18

A very well-presented collection of biblical passages that support the Communion of Saints may be found at:

Saints and Intercessory Prayer

In your dismissal of the 1 Kings argument, what you have demonstrated is that God will not acquiesce to our immoral requests.

Since Adonijah’s father (David) had shared a bed with Abishag (she was basically a bed warmer for David in his very old-age), it was considered somewhat immoral for Adonijah to take her as a wife.

The passage 1 Kings 2:12-21 does show the honor bestowed by the all-powerful king upon his mother (the queen). She may not deserve all that honor, but the all-powerful king sees fit to do so, as God’s Word has commanded that we honor our mother and father.

Solomon does a most wonderful job in honoring his mother. He even gives her a chair to be set by his throne after he bows down to her.

Solomon follows God’s command most commendably.

Question: Do you think that Solomon outperforms Jesus Christ in this regard? Or, is it possible that Jesus bestows honor upon His mother to an even greater degree?

Peace in Christ…Salmon


#19

Reformed Bob,

I don’t wish to debate, because you specifically asked us not to, but the point of my post about the inscription on a tomb near St. Peter’s was that the first Christians prayed to the saints long before the NT existed. The Catholic Church is nearly 400 years older than the New Testament. So the early Christians did not parse the Scriptures (in a translation of a translation of a translation – Aramaic to Greek to English – in the case of the NT) the way Protestants feel obliged to do:D. The Apostles didn’t teach one thing and then write another.

The catacombs are full of petitions to the saints, asking for their intercession.

Interesting facts to think about as part of your consideration of the issue, no? maybe?

Peace be with you.

JMJ Jay
"Peter pray for the pious Christian men buried near your body."


#20

Yes, certainly are.

Where can I get a “list” as it were of these catacomb inscriptions?


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