Is Praying to Saints Biblical?
Is the "Hail Mary" prayer Biblical?
(Read the verses not underlined in your Pastor's Bible.)
"Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed" Luke 1:48.
Martin Luther, the first Protestant on Christian devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary:
"The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart." (Sermon, September 1, 1522).
"[She is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ . . . She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures." (Sermon, Christmas, 1531).
"One should honor Mary as she herself wished and as she expressed it in the Magnificat. She praised God for his deeds. How then can we praise her? The true honor of Mary is the honor of God, the praise of God's grace . . . Mary is nothing for the sake of herself, but for the sake of Christ . . . Mary does not wish that we come to her, but through her to God." (Explanation of the Magnificat, 1521).
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"Hail [Mary] full of grace, the Lord is with thee,
Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen."
Luke 1:28 Verbatim: "And the angel entered to her, and said, Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed be thou among women." (some versions say "Hail highly favored one").
Luke 1:42 [Elizabeth]"cried with a great voice, and said, Blessed be thou among women, and blessed be the fruit of thy womb." (Verbatim, with "Jesus" added)
Luke 1:43 (Elizabeth calls the Virgin Mary the "Mother of my Lord" which is synonymous with "Mother of God", unless one contends that Our Lord is not God.) "And whereof is this thing to me, that the mother of my Lord come to me?" Luke 1:43
This is a prayer of intercession. In 1 Tim 2:1, St Paul exhorts Timothy "that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for everyone, for this is good and pleases our Savior."
Everyone would be all those Christians in the Body of Christ. (Col 1:18- 24) Are those glorified Christians in Heaven not part of the Body of Christ? Where in the Holy Bible does it teach that Christ has two bodies, one in Heaven and one on earth, or that the saints in Heaven are outside the Body of Christ? St Paul tells us that intercessions and prayers be made for for ALL Christians, all in Christ's Body.
But many exclaim: "Those in Heaven can't hear you, they are dead!" No, their bodies are dead, not the souls themselves. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself tells us:
"But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." Matt 22 :31-32
Those in Heaven, their bodies have departed from us but Christ tells us they are alive and continue to be part of the Body of Christ. (Col 1:18, 24) A prayer to a saint is simply asking another Christian to pray for you to God Almighty. It's that simple. It is not to perform magic, it is not conjure of the dead to foretell the future and it is not a form of worship. It is simply a request that those in the presence of God pray for you to God himself. This is exactly what Protestants do when they ask a family member to "pray" for them. There is no difference. Those Christians on earth as with those glorified Christians in Heaven are all part of the Body of Christ. Jesus Himself tells us that they are alive and St. Paul instructs us in the Holy Bible that "that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for everyone, for this is good and pleases our Savior." 1 Tim 2:1 Everyone would be ALL Christians in the Body of Christ. That's all there is to it. It's that simple. The Holy Bible also tells us to:
"Pray at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me . . ." (Eph. 6:18).
(All the saints, those in Heaven and those on Earth).
Any objection to asking fellow Christians to pray for you (whether they be in Heaven or on earth) is blatantly unbiblical, for one can find no verse or valid Biblical objection to this instruction given by the Apostle Paul. Any and all objections to asking fellow Christians to pray for us stem from years of conditioning as a non-Catholic and have no Biblical foundation.
If you read any prayer to a saint, it includes or concludes, with a phrase like "pray for us." The "Hail Mary" is a case in point. Read the last stanza:"pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen." As for the rest of the prayer, one can see that it takes its form from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke and Paul's teachings on the Body of Christ. (Col 1:18-24) Why would anyone object to a pray with Bible verses verbatim out of Christ's 3rd Gospel? One can only guess unless the objection is from the last stanza" "Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen." One can only object to this stanza if one believes that those glorified souls in Heaven are 1. not Christians (anymore) and 2. (for some reason) not part of the Body of Christ , and the instructions given by St. Paul in 1 Tim 2:1 (that is pleasing to Our Savior BTW ) "that supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for everyone, for this is good and pleases our Savior." 1 Tim 2:1 does not apply to them! I would ask what Biblical verse objectors are using to declare that those in Heaven are "outside" the Body of Christ or are excluded from the 1 Tim 2:1? The objection is unbiblical, unfounded and based on learned prejudice from years of misinformation about the Holy Bible and the teachings of Christ's Apostles.
On the contrary, what is unbiblical is "praying to Jesus" as one would advocate instead. "Praying to Jesus" is not in the Bible. Jesus himself tells his Apostles to pray to his Father and he tells us how in the "Lord's Prayer." It is a healthy and holy Catholic/Protestant practice to "pray to Jesus," but it is not Biblical in any sense of the word. As the Bible tells us, not everything is in the Bible to include the unbiblical idea that everything IS in the Bible. (John 20:30, John 21:35) See 25 Unbiblical Protestant Doctrines and Practices
The Holy Bible tells us to invoke those in Heaven to pray WITH us, and it tells us explicitly in many places how they pray FOR us. Protestants object to the practice because they have been indoctrinated over the years that the "Intercession of Saints" or as the Apostles Creed calls it the "Communion of Saints" is somehow Unbiblical. They believe this because, as the following verses show, these verses are not taught in Protestant churches nor underlined in their Pastor's Bible.
If the objection is the phrase: "praying to saints," the word "Pray" in this sense means nothing more than to "to ask or to petition," as in Shakespearean English:"I pray thee or I ask thee." To "Pray to a saint" is simply to ASK them or petition them. It is not Worship, which is reserved for God and God alone, it is a petition. And if you read any Christian prayer to any saint it does just that, it asks them to pray with us to our Lord Jesus Christ. As noted the last stanza of the Hail Mary prayer is an excellent example: "Holy Mary Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now at the hour of our death, Amen."
That is the whole reason for the prayer, to gain her intercession of prayer to her Divine Son. Jesus Christ is who she is "praying" to. She is petitioning her Divine Son on your behalf. Just as the Holy Bible commands all Christians in the Body of Christ to do:
and to pray for one another:
"Pray at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me . . ." (Eph. 6:18).
Protestants do the exact same thing when they "pray" (ask/petition) to a spouse, a mother or friend to "pray for them." They "pray/petition" others to pray with them or for them to Almighty God. Again, that is the meaning of the word "pray." "I pray thee." "I ask thee." Look it up. It is not worship, that is reserved for God alone. It is a petition or a request.
1. A prayer can be a prayer of petition OR a prayer of worship. The prayer of petition asks (prays) for something while the other type is one of worship which glorifies God with no petition. The psalms are excellent examples. Some are prayers of petition and some are pure prayers of worship. Most Protestant prayers to God are prayers of petition. The following is an example of a Catholic prayer to God that is not a petition but a prayer of worship.
"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen."
2. But ALL prayers to fellow Christians in the Body of Christ are petitions (whether the Christian in the Body of Christ is here or in Heaven). Protestants use prayers of petition in the exact same why when they utilize pray groups or pray chains. They are simply asking fellow Christians to pray/petition God on your behalf.
Aside from 1 Tim 2:1 and Eph. 6:18, which commands those in the Body of Christ to intercede and pray for each other, where else in the Holy Bible does it ask us to do this or where does it allow Christians to petition those in Heaven to pray with us?
An online correspondent, who I will call Peg wrote to me and objected:
"we have a direct line through Christ and we should pray to Him and only Him.... using Mary is almost like a medium or idolatry to me."
Peg, this is a common
misconception. (BTW, the Holy Bible never tells us to pray to Jesus, it
tells us to pray to God the Father and it tells us as Christians to pray and
intercede for each other.
( See 50 Unbiblical Protestant Doctrines and Practices)
The answer to your question is an understanding of the Body of Christ as spoken of in the Holy Bible. Let me ask you a question: are those Holy Christians, the saints in Heaven OUTSIDE the Body of Christ? Are they outside His Body even though they are in his presence? Yes, or No. The answer is No. They are not outside the Body of Christ. They are part of the Body of Christ and the Saints described in Rev. 5:8, offering up their prayers on behalf of those other Christians in the Body of Christ still on earth.
Peg if this is your contention, what Biblical verse are you using to split Christ's Body in two so that those in Heaven cannot pray or intercede for those on earth as the Holy Bible tells us they do. Or what verse do you quote that prohibits those Christians in the Body of Christ on earth from asking those in THE SAME BODY to pray with and for them? There is no such verse, so this objection is by definition: UNBiblical. This Protestant objection is absent of any scriptural support. Many Protestants argue that the Old Testament prohibits "conjuring up the dead." This is not what Christians do in petitioning their prayers and if they would read this OT passage in context the verse actually prohibits "conjuring up the dead for foretelling their future" as in the case of Samuel. Asking a fellow Christian to pray for you to Almighty God does not fit this prohibition
What the Bible really says is shown below:
That is why our earliest creeds from the 1st century speak of the "Communion of Saints," i.e. Christ's One Body. One Body of Christians all praying and helping each other just as the Bible commands.
"...We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints the forgiveness of Sin and the resurrection of the Body and life everlasting, Amen."
Apostle's creed see: http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/apocreed.htm
The following two examples from the Psalms give Biblical testimony of "invoking those in Heaven" to prayer and asking them to pray with us.
In Psalm 103 we pray: "Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will!" (Ps. 103:2021).
And in the opening verses of Psalms 148 we ask those in Heaven to Pray with us: "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights! Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his host!"
Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, John sees that "the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Rev. 5:8).
Thus the saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.
Angels do the same thing: "[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] 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 the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God" (Rev. 8:34).
Jesus himself warned us not to offend small children, because their guardian angels have guaranteed intercessory access to the Father: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 18:10).
Because he is the only God-man and the Mediator of the New Covenant, Jesus is the only mediator between man and God (1 Tim. 2:5), but this in no way means we cannot or should not ask our fellow Christians to pray with us and for us (1 Tim. 2:14). Many invoke 1 Tim 2:5 referring to Jesus as the only mediator yet fail to read the previous 4 verses that come before 1 Tim 2:5 instructing us that we should ask the intercession of those Christians in heaven, who have already had their sanctification completed, for as Scripture says: "[t]he prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (Jas. 5:16).
Peg I hope this clears this up and you now see what powerful allies you have in the Gates of Heaven. It is OK to ask for their prayers and petitions to Almighty God. It is the "Communion of Saint's" from our most early Creed, before the NT Bible was even canonized. And Christ's Holy Mother who of all Christians he knew best, is the most powerful of all intercessors (1 Tim. 2:14). How many times growing up did you ask for your Mother to "talk to Father" to obtain your petition? Do you think Christ who was fully Human and yet fully Divine does not have a soft spot in his Sacred Heart for his beloved Mother? Do you have a special love for your mother? So does the Man-God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to whom all prayers are ultimate directed.
"Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen." Who is Mary Praying to? Jesus Christ the Creator of the Universe and the Author of his Gospel which includes: the "Communion of Saints."
I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone for this is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. " 1 Tim 2:1-4
"[t]he prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects" (Jas. 5:16). Those in Heaven are indeed righteous for they have been declared righteous by Almighty God. And their prayer "has great power in its effects."
for more info: The Intercession of the Saints
Click here: What Christians
meditate on while saying the Rosary
If this article was of interest to you, please visit the following 12 links giving 12 questions for the earnest believer:
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I answer questions about the Catholic faith. Questions, inquiries and objections.
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." 1 Peter 3:15
Click here: A Biblical Case for Catholicism: The Origins and Authors of the Protestant Theologies
Find out who authored each of the Protestant theologies and in what century
"Click here: The Origins and Authors of the Protestant Theologies."
Intro to the Catholic Faith for Evangelicals http://www.davidmacd.com/catholic/index2.htm
Catholic Answers: "Pillar of Fire, Pillar of Truth" A compendium of basic Catholic beliefs and the Biblicism behind these beliefs. http://www.catholic.com/library/pillar.asp
FAQ about the Catholic Faith from Columbia University
1. "BIBLE ONLY" CHRISTIAN or "BIBLE BELIEVING" CHRISTIAN?
50 Practices and Doctrines not found in the Holy Bible. https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/unbiblical.html
2. JUST THE TRUTH: 2 Dozen Logic and Historical Facts Refuting the Apostolicity and Biblicism of the Modern Christian Belief Systems "Test Everything." 1 Thess 5:21 https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/justfacts.html
3. The "PROMISES OF JESUS CHRIST" to His Holy Church (as recorded in Holy Writ) https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/promises.html
4. The Historical Origins & Authors of the Modern Christian Theologies. https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/dates.html
5. Seven Reasons Christians Go To Church, Which One Is Yours? https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/7stages.html
6. Three Questions Your Pastor Won't Answer.
7. "The 7 Stages of Christian Spiritual Development" What stage are you? https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/7stages.html
8. An Exercise in Logic, Two Logic Proofs from History 101 demonstrating how the modern Christian theologies did not even exist in the first millennium, making it impossible for Christ and His Apostles to have taught to His early Church.
9. Is Sola Scriptura or the "Bible Only" idea even Biblical? Where does the Bible teach the "SOLA" or the "ONLY" in Sola Scriptura? https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/ss.html
10. Modern Christians often ask: "WHAT ELSE IS THERE? What else has Christ's infallible authority besides the Holy Bible?" Featuring the verses not underlined in most Bibles nor taught in modern Christian seminaries or churches. https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/whatelse.html
11. FAITH ALONE (SOLA FIDE): It is a Catholic Position. Have you been taught that Catholics "work their way to Heaven?" https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/faithalone.html
12. "Who is the Bride of Christ?" How do non-Catholics fit into the Body of Christ? https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/bride.html
13. Did the BEREANS "Search the Scriptures" and therefore follow the BIBLE ONLY idea?
Or did the THESSALONIANS, who also "Searched the Scriptures? https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/bereans.html
14. The 3rd Unanswered Challenge for the Non-Catholic Theologies:
Is the Catholic Faith Apostolic? Name just one Catholic doctrine that isn't. Name one doctrine the early Church believed,,,, that the Catholic Faith today *no longer does*. Why can't the modern Christian theologies make the same bold claim? https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/3challenge.html
15. Biblically, did the "Official Teachings or Doctrines of the Catholic Faith" become corrupt or Apostate as your Pastor might teach? Are there verses in the Holy Scriptures that forbid the "Gates of Hell" from overcoming His Church? What does the Holy Bible really say about: "The Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth" 1 Tim :15? https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/gatesofhell.html
16. Is Praying to Saints Biblical? Is the "HAIL MARY" Prayer Biblical? Read the verses not underlined in your pastors Bible nor taught in his church. https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/saints.html
17. How Modern Christian are compelled to use and embrace an unbiblical and anti-biblical definition and concept of a Christian Church. https://www.angelfire.com/home/protestantchallenges/onchurch.html
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