By Rev. Dr. Curian Kaniyamparambil
This question arises out of misunderstanding. All of our prayers are to our Lord. All that we request to the Saints is Saints, You lived in such Christian faith, and you dedicated your life to Jesus Christ, please pray to Jesus Christ for us so that our Lord will listen to our prayers." St. Paul requested to those that were alive to pray for him, as we generally ask others to pray for us. Likewise, we request the saints, who are alive with Jesus Christ to pray for us.
Jesus Christ has asked us to pray for others. St. Paul has taught us the same and we obey this, and the Saints do likewise. This means that the Saints pray for others also. All that we request to these Saints is that when they pray for others, let me also be included in those prayers.
We are not replacing our Lord by making requests to the saints. The ones that raise this question believe that people are praying to Saints. This is not so. We are requesting the Saints to pray to our Lord for us. Saints are not equal to our Lord. We honor the Saints because they loved our Lord.
Some people say that since we request to saints, we decrease the respect given to God. It does not because they earned this saint hood by living and dying in Jesus Christ.
If one studies the Old Testament, we can see that some people are liked more and cared for by God. Examples:
Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Look not upon the stubbornness of this people nor upon their wickedness and sin (Deuteronomy 9:27)
I will shield and save this city for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant, David (Issa. 37:35)
The Lord said to me: Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me, my heart would not turn toward this people (Jeremiah 15:1)
Even God Himself orders people:
God to Abimelech (to return Sarah to Abraham) (Gen 20:7)
Lord to Eliphaz and two friends (with respect to Job, that what they did speak
Job) (Job 42: 8)
Moses for His people (Exodus 32:11-13, Num. 11:2, 21:7, 8:1; Samuel 7:9, 12:19,
The prophets (2 Kings 19:5, Jeremiah 37:6, 7, 42:2, 9)
Abraham (Gen. 10:23-32, )
Judah for Banyamin (Gen. 44:33)
Elisha and Elijah for the children (1 Kings 17:22, 2 Kings 4:33)
Lot (Gen. 19:12-18)
God has asked us to pray for each other. This has been discussed in the previous questions. This message can be seen again in Mat. 5:44, Rom. 15:32, 2 Tess. 3-1, 2:5-25, Eph. 6:18-20.
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you... (Matt 5:44)
Join me in the struggle by your prayers to God and on my behalf" (Roman 15:32)
Finally, brothers pray for us, so that the word of Lord may speed forward and be glorified (2 Tess. 3:1,2)
And pray always, with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit; and in that prayer be watchful at all times, praying constantly and supplicating for all saints. (Eph 6:18-20)
The church of Smyrna regarding the martyrdom of Polycarpus in AD 155: - He (Polycarpus) is now glorifying God, Father Almighty, and praising our Lord Christ along with apostles and saints We worship Christ as Son of God. We love martyrs, as they are followers and disciples of Christ. God allows us to assemble happily and celebrate their death anniversary.
Dr. Moss, Anglican Bible scholar: - Our prayers to the blessed dead (saints) for their mediation is called comprecation. It is quite common in very old liturgy. There is nothing theological against it. Direct invocation is a request to the saints to pray for us, like O Virgin Mary, Mother of God pray to God for us sinners now and even at our death. The whole Christendom followed this practice till the16th century.
The book of Common prayer revision service (1509 - 49) - The mediatory prayers to Virgin Mary, to the angels and saints were removed during the period of Cramer. Still in the morning prayers of Sunday, Wednesday and Friday there is a prayer, "Lord remember not the trespasses of ours or our fore-fathers'"
Even before the 4th century it was customary to hold commemorating festivals of the Saints Stephan, Peter and Paul, and on that day there was no fasting. Such festivals originated from the custom of the early church doing ministry at the grave of the martyr on their date of death.
Mosheim in his "Institute of ecclesiastical history", states that the practice of holding commemorative festival of martyrs began from the beginning of the church.
Tertullain and St. Basil (AD 369) have written that they observed the death anniversary of saints.
But one has to remember that if we live in sin, and pray or request to mediate for His blessings, it is futile. Examples:
1. David prayed for his illegitimate child, but the child died.
2. If we pray for material gain (James 4)
3. If we pray without doing the will of the Father
4. If we pray without repentance. (Jeremiah 7:16,17, 11:4, 15:1 1 John 5:14-17)
From this we can see that the early church invoked the mediator-ship of Saints.
TOC Section 1 (Q 1-26) | Sec 2 (Q 27-56) | Sec 3 (Q 57-81) | Sec 4 (Q 82-115) | Sec 5 (Q 116-135) | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter
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