By Elizabeth Prata
Catholic believers pray to Mary. They think that since Jesus can’t resist His mother, that if they pray to Mary, whop passes it to her son, their prayers get more oomph. In addition, they have been told that Mary’s conception was immaculate, and therefore she is without sin, and is co-redeemer with Jesus. It’s why they pray to her.
But praying to a saved sinner in heaven (which is what Mary is, a sinner just like the rest of us, and certainly not “Queen of Heaven”), isn’t something that only Catholics do. Protestants pray to departed relatives in heaven, too. It’s becoming more common to hear of non-Catholics praying to the dead in heaven.
We’ve sadly seen the intrusion of Catholic practices into Protestantism. We saw Contemplative prayer sweep the denominations, Lectio Divina, labyrinth walking, books on prayers in ordinary time, and more. Now we see the beginning of praying to the departed friends or relatives in heaven, just like the Catholics pray to Mary.
Is this biblical? Let’s take a look.
In Hebrews 12:1, we read,
Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us,
If reading the verse at first pass, it looks like there is a balcony in heaven upon which sit the departed saints, viewing our movements and involved with us, at least emotionally and/or spiritually.
That is not what the verse means. The witnesses are the believers who lived before us and whose lives are recorded in the Bible for us to take example or encouragement from.
But folks who interpret the Hebrews verse the incorrect way, think that because the balcony is stuffed with watchers from above, and that since they are involved with us anyway, we can send up a prayer for them to pray for us to Jesus. Some people pray to the departed for them to give us aid or comfort, or whatever the person on earth is praying to them for. And, that they will hear those prayers and be able to do something about the need.
This activity is very close to the pagan practices of Ancestor Worship. Ancestor Worship is prevalent in Chinese religions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Eastern Orthodox, and is practiced widely in varioius places in India, Africa, and Asia.
Nations Online defines Ancestor Worship as:“1. a religious practice based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence,2. that the spirits of deceased ancestors will look after the family,3. take an interest in the affairs of the world,4. and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living.“
Well, #1 is correct. The rest are false notions. Why?
The scripture says, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5).
ONE mediator, not parents or aunts or friends who have passed into glory. There is only one mediator.
Mediator means: “one who intervenes between two persons who are at variance, with a view to reconcile them.” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
Humans and God are at variance, meaning, we are at enmity against Him and we need reconciling due to our natural hatred of God, holy living, and worshiping rightly. God established the Gospel in order to mediate Jesus and humans and reconcile us to Him.
Hebrews 8:6 ; 9:15 ; 12:24 also speaks to the Mediator.
Romans 8:34 says “Christ Jesus is He who died, but rather, was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”
The verse doesn’t include others to whom we may appeal for prayer. The Bible is clear we may only pray to God. Hebrews 4:16 tells us we may approach His throne with boldness. When He has made a way to approach him confidently, through His Son’s blood, WHY would anyone want to swerve from the direct path He has given us, to go away from God on His throne and approach a human for intercession?
It makes no sense. It is true we who are believers are all called ‘saints’, and it’s true we are in a royal ‘priesthood’, but we mustn’t allow those biblical terms to become unbiblical by adding more to the office than is warranted. Only Jesus is the true intercessor, operating in His priestly function.
Why dilute Jesus’ priestly role by adding to the list of people in heaven who ALSO can intercede? Is the person praying to people other than Jesus, in that case, on earth believing in or proclaiming “a different Gospel’?
Only Jesus does that can hear our prayers and act on them. Praying to anyone else than the Persons of the Trinity is inappropriate and wrong. The practice smacks of at best, a misunderstanding of Hebrews ‘cloud of witnesses,’ and at worst, a pagan practice the heathen perform.
Jesus is sufficient. He is our Priest and mediator.
Republished with permission from Blogs.crossmap.com, featuring inspiring Bible verses about prayer.