Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Praying to Mary

 Here is what Adonai says: "The earnings of Egypt, the commerce of Ethiopia, and men of stature from S'va will come over to you and become yours; they will come in chains and follow you. They will prostrate themselves before you; they will pray to you: 'Surely God is with you; there is no other, other gods are nothing.'" Isaiah 45:14 (Complete Jewish Bible)

Protestant (shaking his head): I simply do not understand how you can worship Mary and idols. It is disgraceful and against God.

Catholic: We neither worship Mary, nor idols.

Protestant: Come on! I see you guys bowing down and praying to Mary. That is against the Bible!

Catholic: If I can show you in the bible where God Himself has people bowing down to others and praying to them, would you then re-assess your idea about Catholics?

Protestant (skeptically): It's in the Bible not to worship anything other than God. So no, its not in the Bible.

Catholic: In Isaiah 45, God specifically tells Israel that the people of surrounding nations will come before them, bow to them and pray to them. (See above text.)

Protestant: Your misinterpreting the text.

Catholic: No, look it up when you get home.

Protestants are shocked when they discover that the words “bow” and “pray” in the Bible don’t exclusively mean worship. People bow to elders, parents, people of other nations, monarchs and angels in scripture. They even bow to inanimate things such as the Jerusalem temple and the Holy of Holies. Bowing can be used as a part of worship, but it can simply be a sign of respect for people and things.

It is the same with prayer. Note that in the Hebrew phrase above, "
they will pray[palal] to you" the exact translation of the word palal (Strong’s # 06419) is an interceding prayer

Protestant Bibles often translate the Hebrew palal as “supplication” or “plead.”

KJV--they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee... 
NAS--And will bow down to you; They will make supplication to you... 
ASV--and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee... 
NIV--will bow down before you and plead with you... 
NLT--They will fall to their knees in front of you... 
CEB--they will bow down. They will plead with you... 
ESV--bow down to you. They will plead with you,

But many translations use the word “pray.”

BBE--and they will go down on their faces before you, and will make prayer to you,  
GW--They will bow to you and pray to you, 
LEB--and they shall bow down to you; they will pray to you,    
NCV--They will bow down before you and pray to you,  
MSG--Hands folded in reverence, praying before you, 

Many of you might ask if this is the same word used for praying to God? Yes, the vast majority of the time palal is used to indicate a prayer to God. Here are some examples: 

Abraham prayed unto God [for Abimelech], Gen. 20:17.
Moses prayed unto the Lord, the fire was quenched. Nu. 11:2
 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed, Sam.1:10 
...they pray unto thee toward this city, 2 Chr. 6:34   
...when he prayed for his friends, Job 42:10 
...for unto thee will I pray, Ps. 5:2  
And I prayed unto the Lord, Dan. 9:4 

Before we go any further we need to stop and make this point. Even if end up disagreeing on the interpretation of this text, we can agree that this text is indeed in scripture that the Catholics didn’t make it up. Right there it says there will be bowing and praying to someone who isn’t God.

Catholic church interprets this text literally. You may choose to interpret the text another way, but you can never say that Catholics do not have a “proof-text” for their doctrine that says we can pray to others besides God.

For to Catholics this word palal is exactly what we mean when we pray to Mary and the saints. We are pleading with them, entreating them, supplicating them to intercede for us with Christ, exactly as Abraham prayed in behalf of Abimelech, Moses prayed for Israel an Job prayed for his friend in the above references.

We can ask our friends to pray for us. Indeed we can pray to God’s leaders (especially those reigning with Christ in heaven), even bowing to them, kneeling to them and supplicating them for intercessory prayer in our behalf.

This is Biblical. Catholics are praying/pleading with Mary and the saints who are right now in heaven to intercede before God for us. As we see in the text, God is quite happy with that.

They will prostrate themselves before you; they will pray to you: 'Surely God is with you; there is no other, other gods are nothing.'" Isaiah 45:14 (Complete Jewish Bible)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Unless a grain of wheat shall fall upon the ground and die, it remains but a single grain with no life. 

I have a stalk of semi-crushed wheat in a plastic bag that I use as a book mark in my Bible. It is to remind me each day at our morning devotions that as a Christian I may never see the results of my earthly pilgrimage, I may never get to see any results of my spiritual battles, that I may close my eyes in death never having believed my life made any difference and that is simply got to be okay with me. 

Americans are very results oriented. I know I am. I was taught, "Be good and you will reap a reward" day in and day out at a child. Each Cinderella gets a handsome prince, each good work gets a gold star by your name somewhere. Without knowing it America placed in me a need to see my good works displayed before men so I could be patted and cooed upon like televangelists and pastors. I wanted to be a true hero for the Lord--famous and rich--so I could give huge amounts to charity. Then I could afford to take my personal jet to third world countries and pay for water wells and food and clothing for all the poor people. Then everyone would know I loved the Lord. People would like me and think I was a great Christian.

I think many American Christians have this need to see a reward, an earthly reward, of being a Christian hero to one degree or another--some by posting cute little Facebook memes in order to be "liked." Some by mission trips or becoming a church leader.

One evening I realized that this promise of a "happily ever after" Christianity is pagan. We as Christians do our duty for God and we should expect no reward until heaven. That's a shock to an American! We work with no pay, no results? Yes. No thank-yous? No high-fives from other Christians? No Christian-of-the-month certificate? No hospital named after me? No local charity? No public award? What about my name on a gold donation plaque on the back of the pew? 

Obedience to God will mean a lifetime of spiritual battle and we may never see the end of the skirmish we are in, but we know that the battle has already been won. That is faith. We may never see any of our personal victories but with the eyes of hope.

Whatever battle you face in your life, whatever your spiritual calling, know that even if you expend yourself to exhaustion and you give and give until there is nothing more to give, you have not failed if you see no earthly results. As long as you are battling for the Lord you never battle in vain.

Be a grain of wheat. It is only after its sacrifice of death in the soil that it reaps a harvest. Never give up even if you never see the fruits of your labors for Christ. There are great surprises awaiting you in the next life.