What Does the Bible Say about Praying to Saints?

What does the Bible say about praying to saints? Are there biblical foundations for the Catholic tradition of asking saints to intercede for us?

Oftentimes we’re challenged by our protestant brothers and sisters with the question, “Why pray to saints when you can just pray to Jesus?” You’re not alone if you believe there’s a good answer to that question but struggle to explain it yourself.  

As All Saints Day approaches, Dr. Edward Sri walks us through scripture passages wherein holy men and women from the Bible intercede before God for their communities.

This episode will leave you not only with a good apologetic answer for why Catholics pray to the saints, but—more importantly—with a renewed sense of appreciation for the cloud of witnesses that inspire us, intercede for us, and draw us deeper into communion with the blessed Trinity. 

What does the Bible say about praying to saints?

The Bible reveals that the saints who have died aren’t disconnected from and uninterested in those who are alive on earth

Old Testament Example: 

Jeremiah 15:1–Long after their deaths, Moses and Samuel are depicted pleading for the Israelite people on earth

New Testament Examples

  • Revelation 8:3 – The prayers of the saints rise up before God, and then God acts on earth. 
  • John 15 – “I am the vine, and you are the branches.”
  • St. Paul – We are the “body of Christ.” It doesn’t make sense that death would rupture this bond. 
  • Hebrews 12:1 – The saints are a “cloud of witnesses”

Intercession for Others Isn’t Optional for Christians 

Love of God and love of neighbor go hand in hand. The saints are our neighbors and our brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. When we grow in fellowship with our fellow Christians, we grow in fellowship with Christ. This is the vision of the Church that the New Testament gives to us.

2 Corinthians 1:11–St. Paul commands the Christians in Corinth to pray for him.  

1 Timothy 2:1–Timothy commands the Christians to pray for each other

How to Grow in Fellowship with the Saints 

  1. Pick a few saints that you want to get to know. 
  2. Read their writings and learn about their lives. Fill your mind with their stories and their example. 
  3. Talk to those saints, every day. Share your weaknesses with them and ask them to walk with you in your difficult times. Don’t just ask them to pray for you…invite them to be with you in every part of your life.


  1. You still didn’t show us where it says to pray to dead saints. I’d like to read that.

    • If saints are more alive in Christ, then why is it a ‘sin’ to ask them to pray for us?.

    • “‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.””
      ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭22‬:‭32‬ ‭E

  2. It’s always struck me odd and rather sad that so many Protestants seek out every opportunity to tell Catholics they are wrong on any variety of topics. Thou doth protest too much! Of course, since it’s hard to find two Protestants who are in consistent agreement on anything other than the fact that Catholics are idolatrous and misguided, it’s difficult to put too much stock in the arguments.

    Interestingly, I drove by a mega church today that has a giant transformer logo adorning their entrance for their movie night. Hard to trust that there are serious theological debates happening there. But I’m not looking for Protestant websites where I can condescendingly ask where in the New Testament I can learn more about Optimus Prime. I just drove right past the theater—I mean, church—and attend Mass at our holy shrine. All good.

    Not for so many of our Protestant brethren, however, whose self-assuredness is all too often rivaled only by their arrogance. I do not believe some of the things you believe. But I spend more time trying to be a better Christian myself and less time telling others what they are doing wrong. Just do you folks. You’ll feel better. Peace to all and thank you Lord for the gift of my Catholic faith!

  3. The catholic church taught that God is scary and aloof that is why they pray to or petition the saints to pray for them. They don’t see God as approachable. This tradition was instituted before followers could read the Bible for themselves and has stuck. The Bible tells us that Christ is our only mediator between us and God Almighty. We all, as Christians followers, are called saints. God doesn’t listen to or obey the pope and give anyone in heaven the mantle of being able to hear prayers of those on earth and then intercede for them to the father. That is taking Christ’s role as our only intersessor and mediator between us and God Almighty. We are to pray for each other here on earth and to come together in prayer. But to invoke those who have past on is error. Our triune God is enough. He isn’t aloof. He sees and hears everything we do and think. He intimately knows our hearts. He knitted us together in our lothers womb. He loves you more than you can fathom. Yes, respect Him to the highest degree, and the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but he is approachable. He wants to have a close relationship with each one of us so much so that he sacrificed his own son in order to do just that. So much can be made up because we don’t know what heaven is like. We don’t know what we will be doing other than worshiping our Father. Don’t divide your worship or adoration, by adoring saints, who were just faithful followers. We can learn from them, yes, and want to do what they have done, but in reality they were immulating Christ, which is what we are to be doing here on earth.

  4. None of those verses depict that prayer be made TO the saints. Even Jesus said to pray to OUR FATHER and to pray in His name. Christ, being one with the Father, is worthy. Never, in the Bible, do we find that we should pray to none other. No one is worthy No not one!! God is the only omnipresent, omnisciente. Do NOT misguide the sheep because of tradition and pride!! Be wise in the reverence of God!! Honor Him as God!! Do NOT take what is Gods and give it to a human. God is a jealous God and shares His glory with no other!!

  5. This is not biblical read the life of saint to get to know them we should get known god to have better relationships with him knowing the sanits will not get in heaven

  6. The problem here is that many people confuse saints as if they have the power of TMH-God. They can only do as you can and as I, we can simply ask that Christ here’s our prayers as the woman who cried over and over to be healed. Christ allowed us especially the apostles at that time to pray for one another and lay hands for healing. But not everyone is blessed with that gift that’s why it is very important that you grow in your relationship with Christ so that you mature in your spiritual walk with the most high God. For you have the power within you to do the same ask the scriptures they seek and you shall find. I hope these scriptures set you free of the understanding that you are capable of making the same prayers as the apostles and angels do above that are capable of seeing you. Remember the term “angels” are capable of seeing you and reporting your actions to TMH-GOD

    Matthew 12:48-50 New Living Translation (NLT)
    Who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!”

    James 4:3 
    You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

    1 Timothy 2:5 
    For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

    Philippians 4:6-7 
    Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let “your requests be made known to the most high God”. And the peace of the most high God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

  7. I do not think Jeremiah 15:1 is an adequate argument for prayer to those who have passed on.

    “Then the Lord said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!”
    ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭15‬:‭1‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    “Then said the LORD unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.”
    ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭15‬:‭1‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    The word being used for “even if” in the NIV and “though” for KJV is Hebrew word “im” (אִם). It is used primarily as a conjunction, to say “if”, or “but”.

    The KJV also has translated “im” (אִם) to mean “if” in other passages, so I don’t think it makes sense to use it in the opposite meaning specifically for Jeremiah 15:1.

    “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.”
    ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭4‬:‭7‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.”
    ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭18‬:‭21‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    I pray that God would continue to lead us in humility and truth as we seek Him.

  8. To me, it seems as if Catholics have taken scripture out of context. The Greek Orthodoxy that Rome used to be part of thought this as well. Hence why they split in the Western Schism and then Rome because Roman Catholic over ideology differences that were never preached in the first couple hundred years.

  9. I still don’t understand this act of praying to the saints. I feel that I am putting the saints above the Lord Jesus. I have been taught that we pray and commune with Jesus. Praying for the saints or asking the saints to pray with us is something I want to study. When where what and why are the questions I need answered.

    • Take a look into the Greek Orthodox doctrine. It is the original doctrine that Catholicism followed before the western schism, before they added some questionable traditions.

  10. All flollowers are saints though.. the bible clearly states this many times.

  11. With all due respect, The literal translation of Hebrews 1 does not mention saints.
    Other ones also do not mean what is affirmed about saints.
    Acts 20:25-26 really depicts the reality, Peter should have never be a Saint, Peter himself rejected to be praised or worshipped, but today he is Saint Peter .
    I can ask a friend to pray for me, it does not mean I will build a church and name after him/her.
    Almost every single catholic church is named by a man made saint. That IS idolatry.

    Second commandment : Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them nor serve them”

    The Catholic church is full of images. Very sad.

    • A very simple question is who do you see in an image (photo, drawing,caricature)of your father
      Would you show it respect as if to your father?

  12. Worshipping the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength consumes my entire devotion. The saints are created beings. Devotion to them in the way you suggest distracts me from my Creator. I’m sure we can learn a lot from the lives of great men and women of God, but devotion and prayer are reserved for God alone.

  13. Not sure where saints fit in here: Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” Exodus 29:44-45. This sounds pretty clear, to me. Jesus is the only one who died and was resurrected and provides salvation. None of the non-“religious” Christians I know, who are typically well-versed in the Bible and even hear from the Lord directly talk about praying to anyone but Jesus/God.

  14. In the Bible it says if your a believer and you die you are with God. So, why would prayers go up. It goes up only if your saints on the earth. So get you brothers and sisters in Christ next to you to pray for you so Gods blessings can rain down on you. Love you all

  15. The ultimate answer why catholics pray for the saints is that this is based in their so called “sacred tradition”. They tried to support this act with scriptures with faulty logic. The simple answer is their sacred tradition tells them to do so. Now, is this biblical? Its not! However, their sacred tradition justified this act because they believed that sacred tradition is equal to sacred scripture. Or perhaps even more powerful than the scripture.

    If you look at the history, then you will see that this sacred traditions gave venue for pope to harness or exercise power. They could create extrabiblical concept on the basis of sacred tradition. The oral teaching of popes or saints can be handed down to generations. These could be even overpower the authority of the scripture. And they will say the scripture is written teaching, while sacred tradition is the oral teaching. The sacred tradition therefore is an avenue to undermine scriptures authority, to build an empire where rules and ultimate authority solely depends on the leader of the church.

  16. Totally wrong exegesis here. We can’t get dead people to pray for us.

  17. Jesus quotes scripture “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” He goes on to say that God is the God of the living not the dead. The saints are alive in Christ, so we aren’t praying to dead people.

  18. None of those verses alludes to anything resembling praying to saints. Jeremiah 15:1 does not imply what is claimed in this article. Read it for yourselves and make your own judgement. As usual this made up theology is a product of circular thinking and verbal gymnastics, aka, BS!

    • “but ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
      ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12‬:‭22‬-‭24‬ ‭KJV‬‬

      I believe the spirits of just men made perfect refer to saints here or is there any other opinion

  19. First, the key here is the word “for”. It’s one thing to pray “for” the saints, and it’s a totally different thing to pray “to” the saints. Next, the versus quoted in this reading regarding “the saints”, refers to who? Who are “the saints”? I don’t see those verses calling out Peter or Mathew or any other of the Catholic saints as the saints these verses are referring to. Lastly, St. Paul tells the church of Corinth to pray “for” him not “to” him. Please explain how praying for the saints is connected to praying to the saints? Also, why would I talk to the saints if they are dead? Christ is risen and clearly tells us He is the way, the truth and the life. Shouldn’t I go to the source?

    • They are not dead. They are alive in Christ.

      • You did not answer my questions

        • We pray for their intercession in our lives. Yes we should always pray to Jesus but we should pray for the saints to walk with us through life and when you say well why not just pray directly to Jesus. It cannot hurt to pray for a saints intercession

      • Even if, as you say, they are alive in Christ; they are not gods. They can’t hear us the way God can. God is omnipresent and all knowing not the saints.

        • Then why would Jesus converse with Elijah and Moses at the transfiguration if they couldn’t hear him

    • “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.”
      ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭8‬:‭3‬-‭4‬ ‭KJV‬‬

      Note it says prayers of the saints saying that those prayers have meaning

  20. Still not convinced. I have never met a saint. Therefore, it is difficult for me to put my trust in one. I know people that are “saintly” and I can count on them for intercession. I speak with them and they respond back to me. I can embrace them or shake their hand. I can’t do that with a saint. I also know people that put more emphasis on the saints than Christ! For some, the focus is on the saint (even though I understand that’s not how it is supposed to be).

    • no one said you should put your focus on saints
      saints are not the ones who answer prayers in my opinion, they act as intermediaries.

      • Your opinion doesn’t matter. It should be biblical. Put your Bible references to ratify your opinion.

    • And this is where faith comes in. You have to put your faith in things you cannot see, hear, touch, etc.

  21. The passages referenced, to me, are referencing people praying “for” others, not “to” them. I still don’t understand there being any biblical backup to praying “to” the saints. Do they have the power to do anything with our prayers even if they do receive them? If we have relationship with the Trinity, the Holy Spirit as our intercessor (among many other things), why would we need followers of the Trinity to intercede on our behalf? Praying for others and asking others to pray for us, both good things. Praying to Saints who are in Heaven already seems unneeded and at the very least not supported by Scriptures. Especially the teachings of Christ.

    • First of all, All believers are saints.

  22. Then why ask others to pray for you?

    • We need as many prayers as possible.

      • They did a study on people who are prayed for healed faster than none

  23. As much I respect many tenants of Catholcism, your exegesis of these “support” passages don’t cut it. Just go to the Head of the Church Jesus Christ directly-Hebrews 4 tells me that.

    • They never do.



  1. What Does the Bible Say about Praying to Saints? | Edward Sri - […] Click here for full episode shownotes! […]

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Never Miss an Episode!

Get show notes, exclusive bonus content, and more sent straight to your inbox.