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Prayer to an Angel: An Explicit Biblical Example

Prayer to an Angel: An Explicit Biblical Example November 21, 2021

Anti-Catholic Protestant apologist Jason Engwer wrote:

Tertullian, Origen, and Cyprian wrote treatises on the subject of prayer without encouraging prayers to the dead. Instead, they either state or imply that prayer is to be offered only to God. Origen in particular is emphatic on the point . . .

Catholics and Orthodox . . . assume that Biblical passages associating an angel or deceased person with prayer in some way, such as Revelation 5, must involve prayer that’s directed to that angel or deceased person as a recipient, even though the passage doesn’t make that association. (6-9-08)

The late Protestant apologist Norman Geisler observed similarly:

[P]rayer is always to God in the Bible and never to any creature, even an angel. (Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences, by Norman L. Geisler and Ralph E. Mackenzie, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1995, p. 349)
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God is the only proper object of our prayers, Nowhere in Scripture is a prayer of anyone on earth actually addressed to anyone but God. (Ibid., p. 350)

Very well, then. How is the following passage not a petition (in effect a prayer) to an angel?:

Genesis 19:13, 15, 18-21 (RSV) “for we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.” . . . [15] When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.”. . . [18] And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords; [19] behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me, and I die. [20] Behold, yonder city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there — is it not a little one? — and my life will be saved!” [21] He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament wrote about this passage:

[T]here is nothing to indicate that Jehovah suddenly joined the angels. The only supposition that remains, therefore, is that Lot recognised in the two angels a manifestation of God, and so addressed them (Genesis 19:18) as Adonai (my Lord), and that the angel who spoke addressed him as the messenger of Jehovah in the name of God, without its following from this, that Jehovah was present in the two angels. [the angels distinguish themselves from God in Genesis 19:13 above]

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary states: “His request was granted him, the prayer of faith availed . . .”

Lot petitioned an angel (Gen 19:20) and his request was granted (Gen 19:21). How is this any different from a prayer? Therefore, it is prayer to someone other than God by a man on earth, and the fact that it was granted and that the angel did not tell him, “you must petition / pray to God only!” proves that it was perfectly proper to do so.

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Photo credit: Two angels visit Lot. Line engraving by P. Galle after A. Blocklandt. This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom; Wellcome blog post (archive). [Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license]

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Summary: I provide biblical proof of what Protestant apologists claim never happens: a person on earth making a prayer to an angel, with the angel granting the request.


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