In the book of Revelation we read about the saints (Christians) on earth praying to God. The incense that is offered to God by the angel and the elders symbolizes their prayers. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It must be emphasized that the incense represents the prayers of the saints that is, the prayers of Christians on earth....these prayers were addressed to God, and not to the elders in heaven or to the angel, for the incense ascended up before God. The saints on earth were praying to God; they were not asking the angels or saints in heaven to pray for them.
Well, in all fairness, it never actually SAYS who the prayers were addressed to, iirc. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š BUT, by your own description, "[t]he incense...is offered to God by the angel and the elders
." ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š If the saints play no part in how our prayers approach the Lord, then why this reference? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š If we don't need to ask the saints to pray for us--i.e., if our prayers can do just fine on their own--then why do we not see the incense ascending on its own
instead of being carried to the Throne by angels and elders? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Surely we can all concede that there is some sort of intermediary help going on here.
So if you are honest with yourself you must admit that NOTHING is said about praying to departed saints in the entire bible.........
Allow me to quote from the deuterocanonical book of Tobit:
(Raphael the angel speaking to Tobit) And so when you and your daughter in law Sarah prayed, I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One....I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One.
And from II Maccabees:
He (Judas Maccabeus) armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words, and he cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision, which was worthy of belief. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š What he saw was this: ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š And Onias spoke saying, "This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah the prophet of God."
I encourage you to read this thing right here
for a great essay on the witness to the Communion of Saints in Scripture, Jewish apocryphal writings, and the Church Fathers of the first few centuries (Pre-Nicaea).
If anything the bible says NOT to pray to departed saints....
Well, I disagree, based on the above, but where is a specific verse telling us not to ask for the prayers of the righteous departed in Christ?
From the dawn of human existence, when men begun to call upon the name of the Lord (Genesis 4:26), to the last prayer recorded in the Bible (Revelation 22:20), the consistent example of all Gods people was to address their prayers to the Lord. Jesus teaches us by His example to pray to God (Luke 6:12). Jesus also teaches us to address our prayers to 'our Father in heaven.' The apostles and the disciples prayed to the Lord.
Absolutely. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š As the Author of our life and Finisher of our Faith, He is the only one we should pray to in a worshipful manner and the only one who, ultimately, can grant us anything. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Yet there's also the fact that "pray" just means, "ask for." ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š When St. Paul says in Romans 12:1 "I beseech ye, therefore brethren etc.," it's been translated as "I pray ye, therefore etc." ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š So to ask for prayers and action from the saints, especially as they do the service of the Lord, is nothing to be startled about. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š See here
for my own, inferior, thoughts on the subject.
We are taught to pray 'for' (not 'to') all saints, that is, we should pray for the needs of the living Christians on earth (Ephesians 6:18).
And yet, we are to make petitions on behalf of all in the Church. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Were they to ask US to pray for them, would we turn them away, saying that they should just pray to God instead of "praying" to us? ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š For that matter, then, since the departed ARE still alive as the Lord says in St. Luke's gospel, they are still a part of the one Body of Christ and are still under this command of St. Paul to pray for all the Church.
but what of the follow up,.... "should not a people seek their God? SHOULD THEY SEEK THE DEAD ON BEHALF OF THE LIVING?"
This was written in the context of people seeking the dead INSTEAD of God. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š We don't see the saints as a replacement for God, but rather as a complement, an allied (and subordinate) force of the Most High God. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Nor do we ask them to tell us what will happen in the future, as these in the Old Testament did. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š We wouldn't even think to ask GOD that! ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š It's none of our business, frankly.
And, again, remember that, according to St. Luke 20:38, the righteous dead are not really dead but alive in God. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š So to equate those unrighteous spirits of the Old Testament with the righteous, spirit-filled inheritors of the resurrected Life of Christ seems a bit much.
Now all that said I want to assure you that I am NOT here to try to hammer away at orthodoxy in a ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š negative way. I am here to DIG for truth as many times in the past I thought I knew it all and God showed me that I know nothing.
Hey, it's cool. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I had to go through all this, too. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I used to be a Southern Baptist, so I've come a ways! ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š
All I have is the Bible and thank God I can now accept the testimony of the very early Fathers. I have yet to accept all from the latter fathers as I am worried that "wrong tradition" might have crept into the church...as it did in the church of Rome. After all you have to accept orthodoxy with some faithto belive that ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š NOTHING of vain tradition has crept in.
We would say that, if the ENTIRE Church embraced and taught a vain tradition then the gates of hell prevailed and Christ lied. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š That's a pretty serious charge.
I am sure that those that find final salvation will see many heterodox in the antichamber of Heaven and latter in Paradise itself with a new incorruptible body. The church has to be made up of some heterodox even though they do not follow the way in the orthodox way.
You're confusing two issues that we keep (somewhat) separate. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š God alone knows if heterodox will be in heaven. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š That is His to decide. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š I can't imagine that there WOULDN'T be heterodox there, but again, that's not my department. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š So there's the matter of eternal destiny, but there's ALSO the matter of "what the Church is made up of." ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š The Orthodox Church IS the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, full stop. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š If heterodox make it into heaven, it will be due to God working outside the bounds of His Church.
We say it this way: God is not bound BY His Church--He can do whatever He pleases--but He IS bound TO His Church--meaning that whatever His one Church (the Orthodox) binds is bound, and whatever they loose is loosed, and that She alone has all that is necessary for salvation and will be guided in all truth until the end of time--according to His promise.
SO after all that ....can someone please give me some quotes from the early father on this subject.......and quotes from those saints in the first couple centuries would be ideal.
Check that article I referenced above (not my blog) for plenty of 'em. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š God bless, man.