Over the past year, as I have immersed myself in the beliefs and practices of the Church from the very beginning, I have come understand that prayer matters. That Saints die, but saints also live. And that the saints living here, and those living with Christ “up there” are both capable of answering the question of this blog post “Will you pray for me?” with a “Yes”! I have also come to understand that Christians do “fall asleep” in Lord. This is a biblical way of saying that all of us, one day, will die. But here’s the really great thing about following Jesus of Nazareth and embracing the heritage of faith passed on to us by twenty centuries of saints in the church. On the third day Christ rose again, and He wins for us the one thing that money, fame, looks, and intelligence cannot earn or win … and that is life. This means that saints who die in the Lord, are now very much alive in the Lord – and with the Lord. Now here is where things get great. Not only are they alive and well, but they continue to intercede, intersect, and care about us and our world. The saints pray for us, they pray with us, and we can ask them to pray for us, just like you would ask your small group to pray for you. Or your pastor. Or your mother. Or your best friend. In Orthodoxy we ask the saints both alive on earth, and those living with Christ to pray for us – to intercede for us. I was recently on a blog where a Protestant Pastor was railing against this very truthful and comforting idea. He just could not let his intellectual, rational, and very Western scholastic mind to adopt the faith of a child and the ongoing teaching of the Church and Scripture. Here is what I wrote in response. What are your thoughts on prayer? And the idea that the saints pray with us, and for us to Christ?
Dear Fr. Gregory,
Thank you for the clear and compelling thinking and writing on this subject. I get it! Your writing is lucid, clear, and catholic – not “Roman” – but catholic, according to the whole. I get it, and I am not even a smart person. I feel some sadness for Pastor Jon and his difficulty in coming to grips with this? … What part about this is so hard to grasp?
Christians are saints. Saints fall asleep in the Lord. Saints are alive not dead – even now in the presence of the Lord. Saints love the Church. Thus they love us. We need prayer. They love to pray. We ask friends on earth for prayer, and so, why would we not ask the living saints in paradise for prayer as well?
Bottom line Pastor Jon, in all humility and respect for your office: We agree, that there is only one MEDIATOR between God and us – and it is the person of Jesus Christ.
But there are many, many, intercessors for us… “angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven…” who do not mediate for us – but pray for us and with us- and carry our prayers to Christ – just like you do for the flock that you shepherd.
I get it. Our kids get it. Why is it so hard to admit that we need prayer, both the prayers of those alive in Christ here on earth, and those alive in Christ in the heavens?
Ask and you shall receive. Let go of Western scholasticism & reason and adopt the heart and faith of a child.
PS For one reference to a person praying for the saints on earth while existing as a saint in heaven check out 2 Maccabees 15:14
“…this is Jeremiah, the prophet of God, a man who loves his brothers and prays fervently for the people and the holy city…”