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Oct 29, 2019

What Does the Bible Say about Praying to Saints?

Dr. Edward Sri

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.
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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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).

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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.

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