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Author Topic: How can the saints hear all of us?  (Read 4388 times) Average Rating: 0
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benbriggs
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« on: August 09, 2008, 06:08:07 PM »

I'm just about ready to start the formal conversion into the Orthodox Church, but I have one last hurdle to jump in understanding before I'm willing to dive in... prayers to the saints.

After doing some research online and in my Bible I can accept that saints DO offer prayers, and I can't imagine they're praying for those in Heaven, cause I doubt they need much prayer up there :-). So logically, I think, they'd be praying for those of us back here on Earth. So... the only thing that's left to get my head around, is how can they hear all of us asking for prayers? And how can they pray for everyone who prays to them?

Once I get this, I think I'm fully convinced. This has been a long struggle in my brain but Holy Orthodoxy is such a beautiful thing that I wasn't able to disprove any of their claims/beliefs if I truly researched it and prayed about it. I love God for giving Orthodoxy to us!

Thank you in advanced,
Ben
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« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2008, 06:26:04 PM »

The Saints are united to the Divine Energies, and are therefore in Union with God.
Some Saints, even while living here on Earth, were able to perceive things happening many thousands of miles away. I had a personal experience with this as a child growing up in Australia. My Uncle was from Cyprus, and we as a family would make our Confessions every year to visiting monk-priests from The Holy Mountain (Mount Athos).  On the evening of July 20th 1974, we had Fr. Joseph (of blessed memory) from Stavronikita Monastery on the Holy Mountain with us for dinner. After dinner, we were talking and Fr. Joseph suddenly asked my Uncle to draw a map of Cyprus. Fr. Joseph pointed to Keryneia on the North Coast on the map and said: "The Turks have just invaded here." And indeed, as we found out in the news the next morning, the Turkish forces had indeed landed at Keryneia at that exact moment and begun the invasion of Cyrus.
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« Reply #2 on: August 10, 2008, 02:54:27 AM »

In God all things are possible.  Perhaps it would help to ask what is a prayer...is it primarily a grammatical construct of words/thoughts expressing a particular desire to someone able to answer? Or do words merely clothe the prayer...movement of the heart and spirit towards one who can help? We are taught that the elders and saints often prayed beyond thought beyond words...face to face and heart to heart with God...simple total presence before God...and presumably vis versa.  Consider the woman with the issue of blood what articulate prayer did she make...none, she merely reached out to touch the hem of Christ's garment and was healed.

If the saints are in Christ, then they too touch and communicate His glory, His power, His grace.  Think of a sopping wet sponge touched by any number of dry paper towels.  What is required for the towels to become wet...only to touch the sponge.  The act of touching instantly communicates the water whether there is one paper towel or ten thousand.

The saints don't have to mentally cobble together/process one by one the thousands, or even millions of requests made to them. It is enough that they stand in the presence of Christ our God full of His love and mercy for us, full of readiness to help, present and dripping with grace...and with our prayers we touch them...our dry empty heart and need makes contact with their abundance in Christ.  Their love, their prayer is not restrained by temporal concerns or limitations. It is simple, whole and wholy in Christ.

Besides, one might as well ask how can a Serbian or Egyptian saint from the fifth century understand a prayer made to them in modern English?  If the Spirit helps them in that...what are numbers?
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« Reply #3 on: August 10, 2008, 08:06:45 AM »

Post of the Month nominee!

Congratulations, Seraphim98!
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« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2008, 08:10:49 AM »

Post of the Month nominee!

Congratulations, Seraphim98!

Second that nomination. Very well put.

(Did we have a June Post-of-the-Month that I missed?)
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« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2008, 10:22:35 AM »

What a beautiful explanation Seraphim98!!  I also nominate your post for "Post of August".

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« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2008, 11:28:08 AM »

(Did we have a June Post-of-the-Month that I missed?) 

We have one, but it wasn't publicized... yet.  We're getting to it soon.
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« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2008, 10:07:51 PM »

In God all things are possible.  Perhaps it would help to ask what is a prayer...is it primarily a grammatical construct of words/thoughts expressing a particular desire to someone able to answer? Or do words merely clothe the prayer...movement of the heart and spirit towards one who can help? We are taught that the elders and saints often prayed beyond thought beyond words...face to face and heart to heart with God...simple total presence before God...and presumably vis versa.  Consider the woman with the issue of blood what articulate prayer did she make...none, she merely reached out to touch the hem of Christ's garment and was healed.

If the saints are in Christ, then they too touch and communicate His glory, His power, His grace.  Think of a sopping wet sponge touched by any number of dry paper towels.  What is required for the towels to become wet...only to touch the sponge.  The act of touching instantly communicates the water whether there is one paper towel or ten thousand.

The saints don't have to mentally cobble together/process one by one the thousands, or even millions of requests made to them. It is enough that they stand in the presence of Christ our God full of His love and mercy for us, full of readiness to help, present and dripping with grace...and with our prayers we touch them...our dry empty heart and need makes contact with their abundance in Christ.  Their love, their prayer is not restrained by temporal concerns or limitations. It is simple, whole and wholy in Christ.

Besides, one might as well ask how can a Serbian or Egyptian saint from the fifth century understand a prayer made to them in modern English?  If the Spirit helps them in that...what are numbers?

Excellent post. I second the nomination!
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« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2008, 10:34:25 PM »

I'm just about ready to start the formal conversion into the Orthodox Church, but I have one last hurdle to jump in understanding before I'm willing to dive in... prayers to the saints.

After doing some research online and in my Bible I can accept that saints DO offer prayers, and I can't imagine they're praying for those in Heaven, cause I doubt they need much prayer up there :-). So logically, I think, they'd be praying for those of us back here on Earth. So... the only thing that's left to get my head around, is how can they hear all of us asking for prayers? And how can they pray for everyone who prays to them?

Once I get this, I think I'm fully convinced. This has been a long struggle in my brain but Holy Orthodoxy is such a beautiful thing that I wasn't able to disprove any of their claims/beliefs if I truly researched it and prayed about it. I love God for giving Orthodoxy to us!

Thank you in advanced,
Ben

Time may not be linier in the afterlife. Things dont happen one at a time there one event after the next.

Think of standing in the center of a circle. What we percieve as "Time" is happening for them all around  and as a singular experience.

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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2008, 03:33:00 AM »

In God all things are possible.  Perhaps it would help to ask what is a prayer...is it primarily a grammatical construct of words/thoughts expressing a particular desire to someone able to answer? Or do words merely clothe the prayer...movement of the heart and spirit towards one who can help? We are taught that the elders and saints often prayed beyond thought beyond words...face to face and heart to heart with God...simple total presence before God...and presumably vis versa.  Consider the woman with the issue of blood what articulate prayer did she make...none, she merely reached out to touch the hem of Christ's garment and was healed.

If the saints are in Christ, then they too touch and communicate His glory, His power, His grace.  Think of a sopping wet sponge touched by any number of dry paper towels.  What is required for the towels to become wet...only to touch the sponge.  The act of touching instantly communicates the water whether there is one paper towel or ten thousand.

The saints don't have to mentally cobble together/process one by one the thousands, or even millions of requests made to them. It is enough that they stand in the presence of Christ our God full of His love and mercy for us, full of readiness to help, present and dripping with grace...and with our prayers we touch them...our dry empty heart and need makes contact with their abundance in Christ.  Their love, their prayer is not restrained by temporal concerns or limitations. It is simple, whole and wholy in Christ.

Besides, one might as well ask how can a Serbian or Egyptian saint from the fifth century understand a prayer made to them in modern English?  If the Spirit helps them in that...what are numbers?

Thank you very much everyone, especially Seraphim98 for your responses. It makes more sense to me now. This board has been very instrumental to my understanding of many of the topics that a Protestant might find difficult to wrap their heads around, and I appreciate you all. God Bless you all!
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2008, 12:39:36 PM »

Peace be with you,

Not sure if this is correct however it's my understanding so it's fairly simple. Please ignore me if anybody says I'm wrong and hopefully we'll both learn.

The short answer is that time only exists in this universe which God created. As the departed have left this world they are no longer subject to the time restraints which restrict our abilities here on earth. To think that they were is carnal thinking rather than spiritual thinking.

Hope that makes sense and pray for me please.
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2008, 02:51:09 PM »

Seraphim98, I also agree, very excellent post! 

However, what would you say to those who have rebuttled with "well why don't I just pray to God, why do I have to pray to a saint"??  Just because the saints are with God, why not just pray directly TO God...? 

Just wondering if you could take another crack at it... Wink
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2008, 03:23:25 PM »

Unfortunately, Seraphim hasn't been on since September...
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« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2008, 04:33:20 PM »

Unfortunately, Seraphim hasn't been on since September...

Do you have an answer?  Or anyone else for that matter.  I just wanted Seraphim to give one since his answer was excellent.  Not that yours arn't... Wink
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2008, 04:52:37 PM »

Well, I don't know if I have an answer, I do know that I stuggled with this question, since I came from a Protestant background. The thing that really helped things click for me was when I realised that I didn't "just go straight to God" all the time either. Most people have no problem with intercessory prayer, and really that's what the Orthodox are doing when they are praying to saints: asking the saints to pray for them to God. In that way, if we suppose for the sake of argument that the saints are indeed alive in heaven and able to hear prayers, then asking them to pray for us is really not that much different than asking your family or friends to pray for you. I also think that the concept is biblical, as I mentioned in this post.

EDIT -- Some verses supporting intercessory prayer are Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; Phil. 1:4; Col. 1:3; 4:12; 1 Thes. 1:2
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« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2008, 08:05:38 PM »

Well, I don't know if I have an answer, I do know that I stuggled with this question, since I came from a Protestant background. The thing that really helped things click for me was when I realised that I didn't "just go straight to God" all the time either. Most people have no problem with intercessory prayer, and really that's what the Orthodox are doing when they are praying to saints: asking the saints to pray for them to God. In that way, if we suppose for the sake of argument that the saints are indeed alive in heaven and able to hear prayers, then asking them to pray for us is really not that much different than asking your family or friends to pray for you. I also think that the concept is biblical, as I mentioned in this post.

EDIT -- Some verses supporting intercessory prayer are Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; Phil. 1:4; Col. 1:3; 4:12; 1 Thes. 1:2

thanks!  i appreciate any further thought on this! 
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« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2008, 08:08:05 PM »

Time appears linear to us. So we try to figure out such things as how the Saints can hear us one after the other or many at a time. Perhaps those in the after-life do not experience time in that way but rather all at once, like standing in the center of a circle.
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« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2008, 08:09:42 PM »

Time appears linear to us. So we try to figure out such things as how the Saints can hear us one after the other or many at a time. Perhaps those in the after-life do not experience time in that way but rather all at once, like standing in the center of a circle.

usually it's got nothing to do with time.  usually the wall is "why do I need anyone else except for Jesus, to pray for me, etc."  It's not even praying for me, but praying for answers to a life question or etc. should go to Jesus.  why ask a saint to help me from drowning when I can ask Jesus.
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« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2008, 08:34:11 PM »

Time appears linear to us. So we try to figure out such things as how the Saints can hear us one after the other or many at a time. Perhaps those in the after-life do not experience time in that way but rather all at once, like standing in the center of a circle.

usually it's got nothing to do with time.  usually the wall is "why do I need anyone else except for Jesus, to pray for me, etc."  It's not even praying for me, but praying for answers to a life question or etc. should go to Jesus.  why ask a saint to help me from drowning when I can ask Jesus.

I direct them to look at the final chapter of Job to see why his "friends" needed Job to pray for them instead of them just praying to the Lord. Grin
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« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2008, 08:36:35 PM »

Time appears linear to us. So we try to figure out such things as how the Saints can hear us one after the other or many at a time. Perhaps those in the after-life do not experience time in that way but rather all at once, like standing in the center of a circle.

usually it's got nothing to do with time.  usually the wall is "why do I need anyone else except for Jesus, to pray for me, etc."  It's not even praying for me, but praying for answers to a life question or etc. should go to Jesus.  why ask a saint to help me from drowning when I can ask Jesus.

I direct them to look at the final chapter of Job to see why his "friends" needed Job to pray for them instead of them just praying to the Lord. Grin

thank you!!!  very helpful! 
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« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2008, 03:40:24 AM »

I think generally it's a good idea to have as many people praying for you as possible, especially if you have a specific need. Does this sway God? I dunno, I think it'd have to, otherwise what would be the point in praying for others, as our tradition so obviously teaches us to do? Maybe, to some very small extent, one reason that saints are so saintly is that they've touched lots of people, who are then praying for them. People who "just go to Jesus" normally don't have a problem asking their family and friends to pray for them: we just extend those requests to the Church triumphant.
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« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2008, 09:43:11 AM »

Time appears linear to us. So we try to figure out such things as how the Saints can hear us one after the other or many at a time. Perhaps those in the after-life do not experience time in that way but rather all at once, like standing in the center of a circle.

Marc1152 is so right.  As Orthodox Christians it is important that we not only focus upon the temporal activities of the Church Militant (those of us on the earth) but all look at the eternal and timeless activities of the Church Triumphant (Those Saints who are in the presence of God in Heaven).  The same constraints and limits that apply to us on earth, are not present in heaven.  We must stop thinking of time as linear when we focus upon the eternal, age without end.

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« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2008, 12:59:19 PM »

I think generally it's a good idea to have as many people praying for you as possible, especially if you have a specific need. Does this sway God? I dunno, I think it'd have to, otherwise what would be the point in praying for others, as our tradition so obviously teaches us to do? Maybe, to some very small extent, one reason that saints are so saintly is that they've touched lots of people, who are then praying for them. People who "just go to Jesus" normally don't have a problem asking their family and friends to pray for them: we just extend those requests to the Church triumphant.

One time for my mother's birthday she was coming right out and saying what she wanted (a curler set).  My father came right out and saying she was getting an iron because she needed it, which upset her terribly, and it became an argument of sorts (silent treatment, etc.).  My father did get the curler set, but rather than give it to her, he gave it to me to give to her.  I still remember how she showered me with kisses, swung me around in her arms etc.  Now, my father could have given it to her directly and gotten the reaction I got and far more than me (sorry Freud).  But he chose to let me get the credit (I was 5 at the time, so mother knew who actually gave it).

God has no problem answering prayers.  Sometimes, however, He likes to glorify His saints.
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« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2008, 11:04:53 PM »

Time appears linear to us. So we try to figure out such things as how the Saints can hear us one after the other or many at a time. Perhaps those in the after-life do not experience time in that way but rather all at once, like standing in the center of a circle.

usually it's got nothing to do with time.  usually the wall is "why do I need anyone else except for Jesus, to pray for me, etc."  It's not even praying for me, but praying for answers to a life question or etc. should go to Jesus.  why ask a saint to help me from drowning when I can ask Jesus.

True, but the question was how the Saints could hear all of us.
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« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2008, 11:41:15 PM »

I was listening to a lecture the other day on the book of Revelation. A lecture given by Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios, narrated by Constantine Zalalas:
Sorry, I can't remember the correct one but here is the link to the podcasts: http://www.philokalia.org/apocalypse.htm

It was explained, if I can remember correctly, that God being omnipresent can certainly hear all prayers all the time and in all the languages of the world. But when one prays to a Saint then one of the multitudes of angels guides and offers the prayer to the altar on behalf of the Saint. The Saint is honored and recognized for this. The prayer comes from the Saint on behalf of the angel. Since there are so many angels they certainly could be around us at all times listening and waiting to take action. There was a thought here that then all creation both living and in heaven, including the angels are coming together to glorify God and each other to God. It was quite beautiful. I think I summarized the gist of it but the podcast is so much better. Perhaps our guardian angel listens to us and does some of this work. That last part is my thought. It was explained in so much more detail in the podcast. I never understood this as well and I have never heard a better explanation before that. Try podcast #36, I'm not sure.

NI

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