On asking the saints to pray for us.

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by MatthewOlson, Apr 20, 2013.

  1. MatthewOlson

    MatthewOlson Member

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    I think asking the saints in Heaven to pray for us is good and totally in line with Scripture.

    Matthew 17:3-4 & Luke 9:28-31
    Moses and Elijah (who are clearly Heavenly saints, not "saints" in the way Paul would sometimes use the word) are with Christ during the Transfiguration.

    Revelation 6:9-11
    The martyrs can talk to God.

    From those three passages, we can gather that the saints in Heaven interact with God.

    Luke 15:10
    The angels and saints (who, in Luke 20:35-36, Christ says are equal to the angels) are aware of earthly events.

    1 Timothy 2:1 & James 5:16
    It is good for Christians to pray for one another.

    Now, if the saints interact with God and are aware of earthly events, why wouldn’t they pray for us, considering that it is good for Christians (which the angels and saints definitely are) to pray for one another?

    Revelation 21:27.
    Nothing imperfect will enter into Heaven.

    Psalm 66:18 & James 5:16.
    God ignores the prayers of the wicked, and the prayers of the righteous are effective.

    Because the saints have reached perfection (they are in Heaven), their prayers are more effective than the prayers of those that are less righteous, so that's why one might ask them to pray instead of asking another Christian on Earth.

    What do you guys think? Does anyone here ask the saints to pray for them?
     
  2. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    No real opinion on the matter- but
    I don't think it is clear that Elijah is dead.

    Also it may be Ok to pray to the Saints but I would be inclined to miss out the middle men and go straight to the top.
     
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  3. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Matthew. I tend to feel that scripture references put forward in support of the invocation of Saints are of loose conjecture and don't provide sufficient grounds for the practice. I believe that the Saints in Heaven intercede for us here on earth in a general way but I tend to feel that invocation ascribes elements of omnipresence or omniscience to them. It is God alone who is omnipresent and omniscious and from whom the Saints and Angels receive all their light and love to His Church. Should we not go immediately to the Throne of Grace? - we have clear scriptural indication for doing so: "Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."
    (Heb. 7:25, RSV).

    The New Testament doctrine of the Communion of the Saints is not concerned with any communication between the living and the departed but with the redemption of the human race. The faithful departed are in Christ, as as we here on earth. The implications of this were not worked out by the Apostolic writers, partly because there were as yet few Christians who had died and partly because the Parousia was expected as imminent. The primary concern of the NT in this connection is to insist on the reality of a fellowship in Christ which living and departed share. This fellowship is essentially a fellowship in prayer to God.

    The official formularies of the of the Church of England do not contain any direct petitions to the Saints. We cannot be certain that the departed Saints hear our prayers – equally we cannot be certain that they cannot hear our prayers either. Generally today in the Church of England, we do not condemn direct prayer to the Saints as a private devotion provided it is to ask for their prayers for ourselves or others but in our official formularies for public worship we err on the side of caution and do not make make direct petitions.

    I believe it's acceptable to pray to God to ask His blessings through the intercession of His Saints. Anything more I have reservations about, particularly in public worship. If I'm leading intercessions in church I will often end in a manner like this:

    Father, look upon us in Thy mercy and bring us all to the fullness of the risen life together and in communion with the Blessed Virgin Mary, St N and all thy Saints, we beseech Thee that, encouraged by their example and aided by their prayers, we may attain unto everlasting life; through the merits of Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
     
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  4. The Dark Knight

    The Dark Knight Active Member

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    I completely agree, and yes I do.
     
  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I'm afraid that isn't possible, as Saints are clearly taught to be incapacitated after death. Also lacking omniscience and omnipresence, they can neither know nor hear every single being's prayer, else that would be taking on of God's properties. God is inviolate, one of a kind, and no other entities share his power. Even if you could prove that the saints were aware of things in the World (which I still dispute below), you could not prove that they were aware of everything that happened in the World.

    On the subject of incapacitation after death, the New Testament teaches it very clearly:

    Jesus tells his disciples that Lazarus had fallen asleep (John 11:11,14).​
    Stephen’s death is described as falling asleep (Acts 7:59).​
    Paul describes Christians who had died in Thessalonica as "asleep" (1 Th 4:13).​

    And the same goes for the Old Testament:

    1 Kings 2:10: David, after death is described as "slept with his fathers" also used to describe the death of many other OT kings.​
    Psalm 6:5: " in death there is no remembrance of thee"​
    Ecclesiastes 9:5: "the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing"​
    9:10: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest"​
    Psalm 90:5: "You carry men away as with a flood. They fall asleep. In the morning they are like the new grass that grows. It grows well in the morning, but dries up and dies by evening"​

    But the best argument is that Scripture itself never once, for example, has a passage where the Jews ever prayed to Moses, Aaron, Abraham, or any other human being who had died. The New Testament reinforces this (by then) 2,000-old teaching!, by again omitting any prayer to Moses, Aaron, David, any of the prophets or saints. You won't be able to find a single instance in the Acts where the apostles gathered together and prayed to Moses for the success of their preaching.

    So then, how do we address your quotes? See below.

    Moses and Elijah didn't die but were directly assumed into Heaven, the only two such people in the Scriptures. They are by no means regular believers.

    This only describes "those who were slain for the word of God", and categorically not all saints. Also it is described as a one time outburst:

    ...they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood... and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season

    Thus they were "asleep" (based on other passages of Scripture); then they cried out when the blood of the martyrs was not avenged, and the Lord told them to again go rest and wait.

    This does not talk about what you meant. Perhaps you were trying to cite a different passage?

    Sure. No objection from me there.

    The phrase "the saints have reached perfection (they are in Heaven)" belies a particularly Roman Catholic view, which I don't believe is supported by the scriptures. It is founded on the idea of sanctification in purgatory, and a maximized perfection upon entering heaven. None of the Church Fathers (let alone Scripture) taught this view. It comes out of medieval Jewish Talmudic theology, the "treasury of merit", and the Talmudic concept of a purgatory, which was copied by the Roman Catholic view that came later.

    In Scriptures salvation is described without reference to any purgatory or sanctified purgation. We are said to be justified by faith, and sanctified by works. By adoption into the Body of Christ, Christ's merits are what qualify us for entrance into Heaven; when we are in him, we already qualify for salvation.

    To get back to your point, saints who are in heaven (under this view) are not more holy than holy Christians who are still alive, or about to die. Without a sanctified purgation, they do not go through any extra 'sanctified process'; they are in heaven exactly what they were at death.
     
  6. historyb

    historyb Active Member

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    Yes I do. We have a great cloud of witnesses over us
     
  7. AnglicanAgnostic

    AnglicanAgnostic Active Member

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    Agnostics to the rescue again:D I think the two people were Elijah and Enoch.
     
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  8. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    My mistake. :)
     
  9. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    In answer to the OP yes I do believe is ok to ask those who have passed to pray for, some seem to think that the reference in article XXII is wider then asking those who passed on to ask for a shorter time in purgatory and nothin any of say here will change their mind.
     
  10. Pax_Christi

    Pax_Christi Member

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    I will give my response to this. Please do not feel that it is a personal attack

    I don't think that Prayer to saints can be supported by scriptures and is unbiblical. Second, it does not do good to individuals who do such things and is akin to someone who is superstitious about relics. It's not neutral but rather hurts an individual. That is why practices that are not in line with scripture should be abolished for the good of the people.

    I think Stalwarts adequately addressed these following points in his post. The Bible clearly states in several passages that their are words such as "fallen asleep" both in the New and Old Testament. It seems pretty clear that the saints that are no longer with us on earth are not what you think of them. They do not possess the omniscience or omnipresence that is prescribed here.

    As for Revelations 6, it is good to read the passage in context. In it, the seal was opened and from there the matyrs (who as Stalwart pointed out are not described all of the saints) cried out for the blood of the matyr to be avenged. The Lord gave them white robes and told them to rest for now. This seems to be stretching the text and reading it out of context to fulfill one's own agenda.

    Again, this seems to be taken out of context. You seem to ascribe that since in this passage since Angels are doing God's bidding now and "know" earthly events and since saints = angels, therefore, saints are aware of earthly events like angels. By far this seems the weakest point in the argument.

    In Luke 20, Jesus was responding to the people who ask what would happen if a man died and his brother married his wife on earth. Then in heaven, whose spouse would she be? Jesus said that like angels, men would no longer marry or die like the angels once they are part of the new resurrection. In no way was he saying that humans are equal to angels other than that they do not marry or die. This would be akin to saying that dogs and cats have four legs so therefore, cats are dogs and dogs are cats...

    This part was one of the saddest parts of the post to read because it forgets the meaning of prayer. It sorely misunderstand what prayer is truly about. It errors in making people believe that they should ask saints who are holier and more righteous to speak to God on there behalf so that God would listen to that. When Jesus was crucified, the temple curtain was torn and now, men and God could be in fellowship. We could go to God to speak with Him. This type of idea that we need saints to pray on our behalf has clouded the idea that man should ever go to go because according to this idea, man will never be holier than a saint in heaven.

    Second, it presumes that prayers are like a soda machine. Put in the correct amount (aka. ask the right saint who is more righteous than me) and voilà, your prayer is answered. This is similar to those who think that when God said ask anything in my name, and he will do it. In John 15, it talks about remaining in me and I in you, than ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. The only time our prayers are truly answered is when we abide in Him and Him in us. It only happens when our will becomes His will and His will becomes our will. Only then is our prayers answered! The purpose of prayer is to conform our will to the will of the Father. Saints prayers are not more effective because they are more righteous. If any saint (on earth or heaven if they can) prays for anything and it is answered, it was because they abide in the Lord and he answers, not because of their righteousness.

    When Jesus was at the Mount of Olive, he prayed that the Lord would take away the "cup" for he could not bear it. He prayed so hard that he started sweating blood. However, he knew the what the will of the Father was: to be crucified on the cross. In the end, he listened and died and cried "it is finished." Was his prayer in vain? No. His prayer brought him into conformity with God's will. He was human just like we are;He struggled just as we struggle. We need to conform our will to his and prayer is one way God does it. Speaking our worries to him but in the end saying "Let your will be done!" Prayer is not some type of what to fulfill man's greedy desires. Nor does our righteousness make our prayers more acceptable to God for Jesus Himself was THE MOST RIGHTEOUS and yet his prayer was not answered. Why is that? That is a good question to ponder on.

    As for Psalms 66:18, it says that if I "regard iniquities in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." Of course not! Sin is contrary to the will of God. How can he grant that which is against His will? This only reaffirms my point that prayer is to conform our will to God's will. As for James 5:16, it only tells us to "confess our sins to one another." By doing so, we know how evil our hearts are. It also says that the prayer of the righteous man is powerful; however, did it explain why? It is only powerful because those who are made righteous by Jesus' atoning work on the cross can now be "at-one" with God and submit to His will. Again, reaffirms what I have mentioned before. Prayer's purpose is to conform our will to the will of God. Yet, going to a saint so that he can go to the Father? Why would you do that when you can go directly to the Father?

    But then, you claim why we ask our brothers and sisters in Christs on earth to pray for each other. Aside from the fact the we know it is possible to communicate with each other on earth and that we don't know that saints in heaven can hear our prayers (aka. not possessing the omniscience of God), we ask them to pray because it helps them see God working in other people's lives. If the saints are in heaven and are in the presence of Lord, do they really need to be brought closer to God's will and see God at work? On the contrary, it is we that need to be conformed to God's will and by going directly to him, we can conform more to God's will.

    When Jesus taught us the Lord's prayer:

    Our Father, which who is in heaven
    Hallowed be thy Name
    Thy Kingdom Come
    Thy will be done in Earth,
    As it is in Heaven.
    Give us this day, our daily bread.
    And forgive us our trespasses,
    As we forgive them that trespass against us.
    And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil,
    For thine is the kingdom,
    The power, and the glory,
    For ever and ever.
    Amen.

    Notice how he prays for his daily need, for forgiveness and for the will of God to be done. Jesus set a template on how we are to say prayers. Prayer is a way of talking to God; why ask other saints to pray for you as if the saint's righteousness will somehow get you what you want? If you abide in Him and Him in you, you understand what prayer truly is! :)

    Hope this helps! And please do not feel as if this is a personal attack. It is for edification! :D


     
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  11. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    As opposed to those scripture references that have been provided here and in other threads in this forum that indicate those who have passed do and can pray for us.
     
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  12. Pax_Christi

    Pax_Christi Member

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    Pardon, but the ones posted here were used out of context (as I posted on #11) ... I fail to see how they support your position. Again, no offense intended ;)
     
  13. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    PC I have already said this topic has been discussed elsewhere in many places actually, there is 13 pages of in the following thread:

    http://forums.anglican.net/threads/praying-to-saints-question.330/#post-5587

    At the end of that 13 pages both sides of the argument were pretty much discussed and I don't believe either side changed their minds. Actually the only one I have seen on this forum that gone away thought about it and changed their mind was my little brother Consular.
     
  14. Pax_Christi

    Pax_Christi Member

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    Thank you for posting that. I will try to read it when I have time. :) I did not know the other threads that had discussed these topics because I wasn't here at the time. I understand if you don't wish to go over it again. I was only responding to Matthew Olso's claim that this practice is scriptural, which I believe is not and posted why. If you want to let this subject rest, I am willing ;)
     
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  15. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It's been quite awhile since I posted here, but if I might make a comment. When I converted to Orthodoxy I had a problem with the idea of praying to saints. I still can't wrap my head around it logically, but I learned to accept it in faith for the following reason. All of the ancient, apostolic churches practice it (Roman Catholic/Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox/Assyrian Church of the East). While it seems difficult to understand how it works (to me), it meets St. Vincent of Lerin's Canon regarding what has been practiced and believed, "everywhere, always, and by all," and therefore I must accept it.
     
  16. Robert

    Robert Active Member

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    Actually I think Stalwart's post worked against his position because Moses did indeed "fall alseep" on Mt Nebo and yet he was still able to converse our Lord and Elijah both of whom are alive and able to communicate with them in front of the apostles. So I think that significantly undercuts the argument that falling asleep in the Lord is some type of cryogenic suspension.
     
  17. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It almost seems as if Moses (corporeally appearing alongside Elijah) was already resurrected, within Eternity, shown inside the glory of Christ. I seriously doubt that the Lord would lie by creating a mere symbolic illusion for the 3 Apostles to see on Tabor.
     
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  18. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Yeah if I remember correctly the other thread touched upon prayer to saints in Christian history. Here we have a narrowly constructed topic of what the Bible teaches about it.

    Remember that the Nestorians, the Arians are also ancient and apostolic by your standard. But they did not keep the Faith. Anyhow that's probably for another thread. As St. Cyprian once said, tradition without truth is just antiquity of error.

    The main problem with this argument is that you assume your capacity here to go from the specific to the general, when the text doesn't allow it. To put it another way, you presuppose individual instances of awakenedness to dictate how saints generally are. Instead of a lengthy rebuttal, think about the fact that Calvinists use the same argument in exactly the same way: since God hardened the Pharaoh and clearly forced many people's will, that would mean that he forces people in general. But yet you reject their conclusions, despite clear and unambiguous passages of will being abrogated. Why?

    The best argument against precisely the kind of Moses awakendness you argue for is that the apostolic people of God didn't believe it. There is not a single prayer to Moses, the greatest OT saint aside from Abraham. And why didn't they pray to him? Because they believed he could not hear them:
    "...there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, where you are going."

    Jews even today don't pray to Moses, but to God himself only. Why are some in the Christian camp different? If tradition is what's important, why not prefer the thousands of years of traditions of the Prophets and the Apostles, as well as the (recent) 500 years of Anglican tradition? By pure numerical force, and the amount of saints, that kind of apostolic tradition trumps the Roman/Byzantine tradition.

    Anyhow found a new citation for sleep in Psalm 90, attributed to Moses himself:

    "You carry men away as with a flood. They fall asleep. In the morning they are like the new grass that grows. It grows well in the morning, but dries up and dies by evening."
     
  19. Robert

    Robert Active Member

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    I think you bring up a fair point. I will try to be open minded. Though I think that these verses would only apply to the jewish idea of Sheol and not to those in Heaven. I think that praying with the saints started very early on in the Christian Church. And if we based everything on the Old Covenant then there would be no Church of Christ to speak of. The Jews do not pray to Christ.
     
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  20. Peteprint

    Peteprint Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Hello Stalwart. Thank you for your comment regarding my previous post. The Arians no longer exist, while the Assyrian Church of the East (Nestorians) do, but recently the RCC has signed an agreement with them that their Christology is orthodox. While they refuse to anathamatize Nestorius, they claim not to believe everything attributed to him, and, as with the Oriental Orthodox, I think much of the problem leading to their schism was a misunderstanding regarding terminology. In both cases, an attempt to define the human and divine nature of Christ led to both groups leaving the rest of the Church, but how do we define such a mystery in human terms?

    Using the Oriental Orthodox as an example, they claim that Christ has one nature (miaphysite) that is both completely human and completely divine, unconfused and undivided. The Orthodox and Catholic position is two natures (diophsyite) one of which is completely human and the other completely divine, but both unconfused and undivided. It's a matter of terminology and attempting to explain a mystery.

    While my Church is not in communion with either the Oriental Orthodox or the Assyrians, I consider both to be true, ancient, apostolic Churches. Actually, the Syriac Orthodox Church (OO) hold their services at my parish, St. George Serbian, so there is a degree of cooperation between the two families. Here is the common declaration by the Roman Catholic and the Assyrian (Nestorian) Church:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/p...chrstuni_doc_11111994_assyrian-church_en.html