Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My Perspective on Intercessory Prayer

…or How Many Saints Does it Take to Answer a Prayer…

As I examine my Christian background, I am confronted by a veritable smorgasbord of denominations: Presbyterian, Catholic, Methodist, and now Christian. My maturing walk with Christ enables me to view my new church home with different eyes. It is “church” in an unadulterated form. By that I mean am not required to consider my faith through the filter of denominational beliefs. My church is Bible based (and don’t they all say they are?); what the bible says goes. It is the inspired Word of God and is the final authority in all things.

With that said, I now view many widely-accepted denominational precepts differently. One of which is intercessory prayer and the difference in interpretation between Protestants and Catholics. Let me say this: I am in no way bashing, condemning, or judging the Catholic faith. I was once Catholic, though never fully immersed in all the beliefs. I have many friends who are devout Catholics, some not so devout, and some who are lapsed.

I am not questioning their devotion to God; however, I do not understand the concept of offering prayer requests to Saints. Here is what started it all. I received an email from friends who were leaving on a pilgrimage to Eastern Europe. They wrote, “As we prepare to leave Monday on our pilgrimage to Eastern Europe we would like to carry your prayer requests with us. We will be celebrating Mass everyday at a very special church so we could offer your requests to many Saints.”

“…so we could offer your requests to many Saints.” Huh?? That simple phrase struck me with full force. As a Christian, I believe in intercessory prayer. I have tangible, personal proof that prayer has undeniable power. Individuals praying to God on behalf of each other form a steadfast bond in the body of Christ. I know God answers every prayer, although they are answered in His way and for His purposes.

So I posit this question: If I (an accountant by trade) travel with my dog, should I offer a prayer to St. Matthew, the patron saint of accountants, or St. Joseph, the patron saint of travelers, and St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals? I am not asking these questions in jest, but from lack of understanding on the necessity of saints to intercede.

Why can I not simply pray directly to God for safe journey for both myself and my dog? When the prayer is answered, who gets the credit? For me, praises are given to God for both good and bad. If a saint is interceding on your behalf, does God receive the full measure of glory, or is thanks shared with the saint who interceded on your behalf? If your prayer is unanswered, do you revile the saint to whom you offered your prayer?

If Christians believe we have an unequivocal relationship with God, why do we need to offer prayers to anyone/anything other than Him?

2 comments:

Russet Shadows said...

Well said! I wonder if the concept of adoring the saints had its roots in paganism (like worshiping the heavenly host was a Judiazation of worshiping Asherah poles). Maybe I'll do some research on it.

nanc said...

russet - you know it does.

the bible tells us emphatically to stay away from familiar spirits and we're certainly NOT supposed to pray to or for the dead.

the dead know nothing.