The Real and the Un-Real | Real Prayer

Roman Catholic Claim


One of the most important activities for a Catholic is prayer. Without it there can be no true spiritual life. Through personal prayer and the communal prayer of the Church, especially the Mass, we worship and praise God, we express sorrow for our sins, and we intercede on behalf of others (1 Tim. 2:1-4). Through prayer we grow in our relationship with Christ and with members of God's family (CCC 2663-2696).

This family includes all members of the Church, whether on earth, in heaven, or in purgatory. Since Jesus has only one body, and since death has no power to separate us from Christ (Rom. 8:3-8), Christians who are in heaven or who, before entering heaven, are being purified in purgatory by God's love (1 Cor. 3:12-15) are still part of the Body of Christ (CCC 962).

Jesus said the second greatest commandment is to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt. 22:39). Those in heaven love us more intensely than they ever could have loved us while on earth. They pray for us constantly (Rev. 5:8), and their prayers are powerful (Jas. 5:16, CCC 956, 2683, 2692).

Our prayers to the saints in heaven, asking for their prayers for us, and their intercession with the Father do not undermine Christ's role as sole Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5). In asking saints in heaven to pray for us we follow Paul's instructions: "I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone," for "this is good and pleasing to God our Savior" (1 Tim. 2:1-4).

All members of the Body of Christ are called to help one another through prayer (CCC 2647). Mary's prayers are especially effective on our behalf because of her relationship with her Son (John 2:1-11).

God gave Mary a special role (CCC 490-511, 963- 975). He saved her from all sin (Luke 1:28, 47), made her uniquely blessed among all women (Luke 1:42), and made her a model for all Christians (Luke 1:48). At the end of her life he took her, body and soul, into heaven-an image of our own resurrection at the end of the world (Rev. 12:1-2).
Christian Response


There is no questioning the priority of prayer in the life of a Christian. Christians pray for their needs and desires. They are commanded to pray and there is no such thing as a Christian who does not pray. God gives new life in Christ. One of the fruits of new life is prayer.

However, the Roman Catholic religion insists that those who are alive on earth should pray for those who have died to this physical life. Their argument is not reasonable or Scriptural. First, Rome teaches that Christians land in a place of their imagination called Purgatory. Rome lectures us that Purgatory is a place of cleansing for sin designed for Christians who have died but are not yet pure enough to go to heaven. This in and of itself is spurious There is no such place as Purgatory. It is simply a figment of Rome's fantastic imagination. Scripture knows of no place of waiting and purification called Purgatory. Secondly, according to Rome's own testimony, no one can be certain where a person has ultimately landed after their death here on earth. How could a person possibly pray to or for another person if he is unsure of where that person may be? There is no 'heavenly security' for the dead in the Romish religion. How can a Roman Catholic know for sure if his beloved relative or wife or friend is in heaven or in hell?

Rome summons Revelation 5:8 as a proof text that those who have died and gone to heaven pray for those alive on earth.
REV 5:8 And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
The assumption in Rome is too much for this highly symbolic text of Scripture. It is not mentioned that these prayers are from those who have died and gone to heaven. We do know that the saints [Christians] alive on earth are said to offer up to God a pleasing aroma of incense with their prayers. But there is no mention of saints in heaven praying continually for those alive on earth. To do this, the saints alive in heaven would have to have intimate knowledge of the trials and tribulations of the saints left on earth. No where in Scripture are the saints in heaven said to have such intimate knowledge and a prayer life for believers alive on earth.
REV 8:3 And another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

REV 8:4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand.
These two passages seem to indicate that the prayers going up before the Lord are from His people yet alive on earth. They are not said to be from the company of elect alive in Heaven.

We are at a loss to see the logic of Rome's citation of 1 Timothy 2:1-4 as a proof for 'asking saints in heaven to pray for us.'
1TI 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men,

1TI 2:2 for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

1TI 2:3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,
One can readily read that the apostle would have those alive on earth pray for those alive on earth. Rome leaves out the middle verse, "for kings and all who are in authority", so as to leave the impression that Paul is somehow including those also who have died as part of the his "prayers for all men." Rome wishes us to believe that the apostle Paul is asking us to pray for and to those who have died when he says, "prayers, petitions and thanksgiving be made on behalf of all men." Only in Rome's imagination does all 'all men' equal those in a fictitious place called Purgatory and those in heaven already!
As to Rome's claims that Mary's prayers are especially effective on our behalf we have much to say. Rome claims that Mary was saved from all sin. As proof Rome cites Luke 1:28,47. Is this what the Bible teaches?

LUK 1:26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth,

LUK 1:27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

LUK 1:28 And coming in, he said to her, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you."
There is no intimation that Mary was "saved from all sin" in Gabriel's announcement that Mary was the favored one. The Greek term used here charitoo [favored one] does not mean sinless. It is used in Ephesians 1 of the fullness of grace given by God to all Christians.
EPH 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed [charitoo] on us in the Beloved.
Mary, upon hearing the news from Gabriel cries out in Luke 1:47.
LUK 1:46 And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord,

LUK 1:47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
The plain indication of this text is that Mary understood God to be her savior in the same sense that God is the savior of all Christians. There is no hint of a preemptive salvation for Mary. Mary was not prevented from sinning. She was to be saved from her sins like everyone else.

Roman Catholics are taught that Mary was assumed into heaven without suffering the decay of death. This is said to be "an image" of the future resurrection at the end of the world. The terms used here are deliberately nebulous. How can Mary's alleged assumption be an "image" of a resurrection when resurrection means life from an actual death? The term "image" is stretched beyond meaning by Rome. Also, what proof do we have that Mary was assumed bodily into heaven? The verse given to us is Revelation 12:1,2.
REV 12:1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;

REV 12:2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to live birth.
Is the woman mentioned in this highly symbolic book Mary? There is good reason to think it is not Mary. We notice that the pain of labor is upon this woman. This would contradict Roman Catholic theology that spares Mary of original sin [pain in child bearing] and that denies Mary the normal birthing process. [Rome holds to a miraculous delivery] But, even if this woman was Mary (There is no indication that she is Mary. In the context of Revelation Israel seems to be the reality behind this symbol) what does this passage say about a bodily assumption? It says nothing.

Most Roman Catholics will not bother to look up passages of Scripture slipped in beside the audacious claims of Rome. The assumption is that Rome knows best. The assumption is hat somehow these passages support the Romish claims. But, as we can see, the contentions of Rome are not supported by the Bible.

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