Saturday, April 17, 2010

Because You Asked

"Just as Orthodox Christians here on earth pray for one another and ask for one another's prayers, so they pray also for the faithful departed and ask the faithful departed to pray for them. Death cannot sever the bond of mutual love which links the members of the Church together"-Bishop Kalistos Ware

One of my readers, Elisabeth, asks:

It is a foreign concept to pray to saints for me. I grew up with little religion and have found myself and God through a non-denominational Protestant church. I guess I feel like the saints are sort of a 'pray to me first, don't go bothering the Man Upstairs' thing. Kind of like discouraging you from praying to the true Lord and Savior. Not that the saints aren't great, they are, but praying to them just seems, well, strange.

Do you know where the idea of praying to Saints came from? I'm intrigued and curious now. :-)

The idea of prayer to the saints comes directly down to Christ's victory over death, and what we Christians believe was accomplished through his death, the harrowing of hell, and his Holy Resurrection. It comes down to what we believe about our fellowship with one another in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Rather than write an extensive answer myself, however, I want to point you to this most excellent and thorough article on the subject called Prayer and the Departed Saints by David C. Ford, Ph.D.. Please do read it. It will answer all your questions, dear reader, about the Orthodox thinking on this subject.


Tabitha said...

Such an excellent article, although that one quote from Bishop Ware pretty much sums it up. I, too once found the idea very strange, even offensive, until I learned that we were NOT talking about praying to the saints INSTEAD of praying to Christ. Now I feel like its quite natural to turn to those who are eternally in God's presence and to ask them to pray on behalf of myself and others, just as I would ask my living Christian friends and family to do. I guess you could say I expanded my prayer chain.

Marigold said...

It's more helpful to think in terms of praying WITH the saints rather than TO them. We pray only to God, but we ask helping prayers from our family in the Church, just as we might ask a friend in this life to pray with us over something. Christ is risen!

BelleArtMom said...

Thanks for posting that link. As a new catechumen it really helped answer some questions I still had. A few years ago I was also one of those Protestants who made fun of prayer to saints. Now I can clearly see how distorted things have gotten since the Reformation (and how much has been conveniently omitted!).