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
- Pick a few saints that you want to get to know.
- Read their writings and learn about their lives. Fill your mind with their stories and their example.
- 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.
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.
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
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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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Totally wrong exegesis here. We can’t get dead people to pray for us.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
All flollowers are saints though.. the bible clearly states this many times.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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,
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.