asking the saints to pray for us

edited December 1969 in Coptic Orthodox Church
hi lovely tasbeha forum guys!
i'm running out of explainations again for a protestant enquirer, so i need help!
please explain, if you can, why the saints who have departed pray for us, and why we ask them for their intercesions to God on our behalf.
i have explained that in hebrews 11 we are told of a great crowd of witnesses that see what is happening in our lives, and said that we don't stop praying just because we have died, but can anyone add anything else?
i can accept the tradition based on the Bible verses i understand, but i obviously don't understand it very well coz i can't explain it!
please help  :)


  • Dear mabsoota,

    In short we believe in two types of intercessions:

    1) Christ is our Savior (and no other) so concerning our Salvation He is our only redeemer before the Father. It is necessary to believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

    John 3:16 (NKJV)
    For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

    2) The winning Church's reposed Saints' prayers, the closest of them to Jesus are St Mary and St John the Baptist. Add to them all Martyrs and Saints and the Lord's Hosts of Saint Angels and the Saint Archangels. Refer to the description of the Throne of God in Revelation and the censer continuously held lit by the angel in front of Him. In Heaven praises and prayers to the Lord are carried on non stop.

    The 2nd type of intercessions is not obligatory but when praying we feel we join with the winning Church and the Lord hears us along with them. Knowing their high spiritual status and having a mutual love with us, their closeness to the Lord raises more prayers on our behalf to Him. It is like when holding hands together to pray or like when many pray in one voice.

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

    Mark 12:27
    He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.

    Luke 20:38
    For He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him.


    John 6:51
    I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.

    John 6:57
    As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.

    There are many books dealing with this very important subject (a controversial subject to many Protestants). A famous very clear, deep and important book on the subject was written by the reposed HG Anba Gregorius - and all his books are recommended readings.

    Let me know the outcome of your discussions.

  • Hi mabsoota,

    The question is rather, why would the saints not pray for us?

    Let us imagine that you have a priest who has prayed every day for your salvation. He has taken great care of his flock for 30 or 40 years and then he reposes. How can we imagine that finding himself in the light of life he suddenly loses all interest in your well being? It doesn't make sense. When we grow closer to God we grow more aware of the needs of others, not less. And we are instructed and commanded in the Scriptures to pray for one another, and to bear one another's burdens.

    How then can this instruction have less force in the presence of God than when we are struggling with so many distractions here on earth?

    From the very earliest times we know that the Church has understood that the faithful departed remember us in prayer in some way. The catacombs bear witness to this belief and in the time of martyrdom it was a comfort.

    St Cyprian writes to Pope Cornelius of Rome saying..

    Let us be mutually mindful of each other, let us ever pray for each other, and if one of us shall, by the speediness of the Divine vouchsafement, depart hence first, let our love continue in the presence of the Lord, let not prayer for our brethren and sisters cease in the presence of the mercy of the Father.

    It does not seem to me to be a difficult theological issue whether the departed pray for us or not. It seems rather to be required by our Christian experience.

    Father Peter
  • thanks so much, that's what i was looking for. i need to read again the book of revelation, i think.
    may God fill your lives this fast with more of His wisdom.
    if anyone else has any other points, please also contribute
  • [quote author=mabsoota link=topic=8938.msg111838#msg111838 date=1268301469]
    thanks so much, that's what i was looking for. i need to read again the book of revelation, i think.
    may God fill your lives this fast with more of His wisdom.
    if anyone else has any other points, please also contribute

    Oddly enough this was not a difficult hurdle for me when becoming Orthodox. I actually found it quite comforting. It was explained to me that if I dont believe in asking saints and the departed to pray for me, why then do I ask my friend to pray for me? St Mary also interceeded at the wedding of cana on behalf of the others and Christ told her that it was not His time. So it is clear that while it was not time for Him to work miracles, he heard his mothers plea. Many protestants have a hard time with this issue and St. Mary, as well as Icons which kind of fit in with this. Just be careful, there are some people you just cannot get through to. Hopefully this helped some.
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