The Intercession of the Saints

As part of their belief in the role of the saints as professed in the Apostles Creed, Roman Catholic Christians petition the intercession of the saints.

The apostle Paul frequently asked other fellow believers in Jesus to pray for him.

Col 4:3
At the same time, pray for us, too, that God may open a door to us for the word, to speak of the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison.
Rom 15:30
... join me in the struggle by your prayers to God on my behalf,

James asks presbyter believers to pray over other believers.

Jam 5:14
Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint (him) with oil in the name of the Lord

Prayer appears to be the normal way for believers (saints) on earth to support one another. Probably all of us have asked another Christian, as Paul did--another saint in the Body of Christ--to pray for us when we had a need.

Catholic Christians believe that as we can ask a fellow Christian -a saint- to pray for us, we should be able to ask prayers from the saints already united to the Lord in heaven. If the prayers of certain Christians here on earth seem to possess special power because of their great faith witness or holiness, how much more powerful and effective might not the prayers of those of the communion of saints in heaven who are fully united to God.

How Do Saints Hear Us?

It is frequently asked, and reasonably so, how can the Saints know and hear so many countless intercessory prayers from so many Christians worldwide petitioning them. The question is really one of knowing, not hearing. It is important for us to remember the fullness of revelation regarding our state of being after our human life is completed. Principle among scriptures revealing our future life is the revelation of the essential nature of God Himself. Jesus often spoke of His Father (Abba) and of His Holy Spirit.

Matt 28:19
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.
John 10:38
...but if I (Jesus) perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize (and understand) that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.

The New Testament speaks often of the unity of the Godhead.

John 14:10-11
Do you not believe that I (Jesus) am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing His works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.

John also speaks of our union with the Father and Jesus as a fellowship a word from the Greek koinonia which is translated "community" meaning "in-union-with."

John 1:3
What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is most specific about our final relationship with Him. He calls it a one-ness.

John 17:11
And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.
John 17:21-22
... so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

The Trinity is a foreshadowing of our eternal life--a oneness with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. We will share the life of the Godhead; as He knows so shall we know. The Saints already in union, at-one-ness with God share his life and his knowledge.

Paul put it succinctly.

1 Cor 13:12
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.

John also had an insight that reflected our destiny.

1 John 3:2
Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Previous Chapter Previous Section Next Section Next Chapter
Beginning of Chapter Table of Contents Book Home Page
Download Text Notes Graphics Version of This Chapter
By Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl.
Catholic Biblical Apologetics, © Copyright 1985-2004, Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture texts are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Email comments to

Last Updated: September 16, 2004