Monday, September 19, 2005

Prayer warriors

“You cannot want wrong things any more, now that you have died, my son, “ said Aslan.
-- C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair

The post I did last week about Protestant/Catholic apologetics has sparked quite a discussion with David Bayly over at Out of Our Minds, Too, and one thing struck me in passing: a comment from Brandon, who was a missionary in Ecuador:
I was in Ecuador, and they worship la virgen del Cisne. They pray to her, they ask for help and intercession, they have a wall of "How la virgen helped me", they take her on parade, they put her name on everything, etc.

I gave kind of a flippant answer to this, to the effect that there were probably a lot of posts on the "How the Virgin helped me" wall, which should tell us something. But it got me thinking about the Protestant objections to praying with saints. Specifically, that God answers those prayers.

Now, it's well known that you can't prove that prayer works empirically, because God answers prayers as He sees fit. If we don't get what we ask for, it's a good bet that we asked for something we shouldn't have. (Yes, I know that's an oversimplification. Bear with me.) But the saved in heaven aren't fallible and sinful anymore. This is where the quote above from the Silver Chair becomes appropriate. If they're in heaven, they've been perfected, and if they ask for something, it's God's will they should have it, or they won't ask. They cannot want wrong things.

Think about this: If it is wrong to ask our brethren and sistern in heaven to pray for us, then it stands to reason that God will not grant those requests. So who's answering them? I can't see Satan granting a petition for somebody's release from a sin, or their healing, or that they be led to Christ. These things are God's province, and yet, time and again we see them being given to people who asked a saint, maybe even the Blessed Virgin, for their prayers for that intention. How often have you seen ads in the paper that say "Thank you, St. Jude?" Somebody's desperate, heartfelt prayers are being granted.

So my question is twofold:
For Catholics: Can you name a time when you asked a saint to pray for you, and God granted the prayer? Even something as small as St. Anthony finding the car keys? What miracles have you seen happen when the heavenly prayer warriors get on their knees?

For Protestants: I ask this with respect, not argumentatively: How do you explain the answered prayers? Coincidence? God's mercy on misguided but devout petitioners? Or is there more to it? I'm honestly interested in your thoughts on this one.

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