Reply to Banzoli’s “Questions for Catholics About Prayer…”

Reply to Banzoli’s “Questions for Catholics About Prayer…” September 23, 2022

Lucas Banzoli is a very active Protestant evangelical apologist in Brazil, who writes quite a bit in opposition to the Catholic Church and Catholic doctrine. He has a Master’s degree in theology, a degree and postgraduate work in history, a license in letters, and is a history teacher, author of 25 books, as well as blogmaster for six blogs. He’s also active on YouTube.

This is my 32nd refutation of articles written by Lucas Banzoli. As of yet, I haven’t received a single word in reply to any of them (or if Banzoli has replied to anything, anywhere, he certainly hasn’t informed me of it). Readers may decide for themselves why that is the case. I use RSV for the Bible passages unless otherwise indicated. Google Translate is utilized to render Lucas’ Portugese into English. His words will be in blue.

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I’m replying to Lucas’ article, “Perguntas aos católicos sobre oração e intercessão” [Questions for Catholics about prayer and intercession] (9-3-12). I changed a few of the numbers for the questions that were asked, to make them less confusing.

In the last few days I’ve been looking through some old debate topics . . ., and I came across this topic by Edson [an obviously ignorant and misinformed ex-Catholic], in 2009. The questions he asks Catholics are simply brilliant.

I beg to greatly differ.

I doubt any of them will respond.

He is wrong that none will respond. Here I am! Ironically, however, it’s Lucas who hasn’t responded to my previous comprehensive, point-by-point, 31 replies to his writings. I doubt he will respond to anything I ever write in response to him, too, and I have excellent experiential reasons for thinking so.

I’m going to pass on some of his questions to Catholics here. Anyone who wants to speak up to raise any objection, feel free, but be sure to answer the questions.

I’m now going to do just that. No doubt, Lucas will think I “didn’t” answer some of them, but all my answers will be perfectly valid and honest, from a Catholic perspective.

1) How many rosaries do I have to pray so that God can finally have my attention?

None. Neither God nor the Catholic Church require anything (but a sincere heart) in order to get God’s attention.

2) How many steps of the cathedral here near my house do I have to climb on my knees so that God can hear my Hail Mary prayers?

None. The writer Lucas draws from is already loudly displaying his stupefied ignorance of Catholicism.

3) What is the instrument used by Catholics to measure when the amount of repeated prayers can be stopped with the conviction that God has finally heard us?

There is no need of any such instrument. God hears us as soon as we address Him. As St. Paul said to the Athenians: “he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27), and “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

4) If I come to God, with my heart broken, and in the name of Jesus, and say directly what my problem is, without having to keep repeating Catholic prayers, which seem more like mantras than anything else, would it not be better, so that God can hear me?

Anyone can go directly to God in prayer at any time. They can also ask a person holier than themselves to make a prayer request of God, because “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (Jas 5:16), and “the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer” (1 Pet 3:12), and “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears” (Ps 34:17). God told Abimelech that Abraham would pray for him, so he could live, “for” Abraham was “a prophet” (Gen 20:6-7).

“All Israel” (1 Sam 12:1) “said to Samuel [the prophet], ‘Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die’. . .” ( 1 Sam 12:19). God told Job’s “friends”: “my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly” (Job 42:8). Why did God listen to Job’s prayers? It’s because God Himself stated that “there is none like” Job “on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8). King Zedekiah asked the holy prophet Jeremiah to pray for him and the country (Jer 37:3).

Next question?

5) How many consecutive and uninterrupted years of rosary prayers have the power to replace a single minute before God with a sincere and spontaneous prayer, which goes from my heart to the heart of God?

This is a false dichotomy. Praying the Rosary is pious, and so is going to God with a spontaneous prayer. We need not pit them against each other. It’s like asking if pizza is better than a banana, or whether a carnival ride is better than going swimming. The hostile premise or presupposition in the question is that formal prayers are somehow intrinsically less “from the heart” than spontaneous ones. This is untrue, and obviously so, with a moment’s reflection. The Lord’s Prayer is a form prayer. Jesus said about it: “Pray then like this” (Mt 6:9).

Every time a Christian recites the Lord’s Prayer (as hundreds of millions do at church services), it’s not a spontaneous prayer; it’s a formal, ritualistic one. Does that mean it can’t be from the heart? Of course not. That’s simply the clueless false premise within the question. The issue isn’t “formal vs. spontaneous” but rather, “heartfelt addressing of God vs. such addresses that are not heartfelt or sincere or serious.” Either type can be either a formal or informal prayer, because disposition is interior before we get to any sort of prayer.

Formal and ritualistic ceremonies and worship services are recorded as taking place even in heaven itself:

Revelation 4:8-11 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” [9] And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, [10] the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, [11] “Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created.”

How’s that for “consecutive and uninterrupted” and “repeated” formal prayer? Day and night the same phrases of worship towards God are uttered over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over. In Psalm 136, the same exact phrase is repeated for 26 straight verses. That’s formal and ritualistic and repetitious. It seems quite clear, then, that the Bible is not opposed to either ritual or formality (in either worship or prayer) at all. What God does oppose is hypocritical worship, lacking the proper attitude of heart towards God. This is an ongoing human tendency that we all must be vigilant (by His grace) to avoid:

Amos 5:12, 21-22 For I know how many are your transgressions, and how great are your sins . . .  [21] I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. [22] Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and cereal offerings, I will not accept them, . . . (cf. Prov 15:8; Jer 6:19-20)

Matthew 5:23-24 So if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, [24] leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Matthew 6:1-2 Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. [2] Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. . . . (cf. 6:3-6, 16; 23:23-28)
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Matthew 15:7-9 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: [8] “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; [9] in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.”

God opposes deceit and spiritual hypocrisy, and worship (whether formal or informal) devoid of a committed, heartfelt spirit and devotion, or in conjunction with continued sin and disobedience. For further related reading, see:

Fictional Dialogue: “Vain Repetition” & Liturgy [1995]

Biblical Evidence: Formal Prayer Isn’t “Vain Repetition” [2009]

“Vain Repetition”: Jesus Shows What it’s Not (Did Jesus Condemn All Formal and/or Repetitious Prayers: Like the Rosary and the Mass?) [7-22-10]

Informal Worship vs. Formal Catholic Liturgy [3-4-13]

Bible on Wholehearted Formal Worship [6-4-07; revised and expanded 1-22-16]

The Rosary: “Vain Repetition” or Biblical Devotion? [5-24-16]

Is the Rosary Christ-Centered? [5-25-16]

6) I was confused these days, because I needed to pray to the Catholic lady about a “story”, but I didn’t know which of the hundreds of ladies I should pray to. What is the specificity of each one, what are the personal specialties of each one?

One may ask any of the saints to assist them and intercede for them. I have made a biblical argument in defense of the Catholic notion of “patron saints”: The Saints in Heaven are Quite Aware of Events on Earth (featuring a defense of patron saints) [National Catholic Register, 3-21-20]. To give an example of this: when Lucas’ friend Edson (author of these questions) dies and hopefully makes it to heaven, Lucas can ask his intercession as the “patron saint of clueless, stupid, misguided questions.” He clearly fits the bill.

7) If God is powerful and infinite in love for us, should I believe that praying to the thousands of Catholic saints will solve my problems?

Yes: because this same God, omnipotent, and infinite in His love, expressly told us in His inspired and infallible revelation that going to more righteous people and asking them to pray to Him on our behalf will have a greater chance of the prayer being honored by God (see my answer to question #4 above for many proofs of this). It’s always good to do things God’s way, and when He is expressly showing us how to do a particular thing, it’s self-evidently wise (from a Christian, biblical perspective) if we follow His guidance. The saints in heaven are more alive and powerful than fellow Christians on earth, and they are aware of events on the earth (Heb 12:1; Rev 6:9-11, etc.).

8) If God is infinitely powerful, and there is no limit to his power, why believe that God can need the help of saints and your lady goddess to be met in our needs?

This was answered in the previous reply. The Blessed Virgin Mary is not a “goddess” and it’s blasphemous to think that she is. She is a creature like all the rest of us, who had to be saved from sin as we all did (which is why she called God her “savior”). The only difference is that God prevented her from sinning by not allowing her to fall into the pit of original and actual sin, by means of the miracle of her Immaculate Conception. I have extensive biblical arguments for all aspects of Catholic Mariology on my Blessed Virgin Mary web page.

9) If the Bible is clear in teaching that people, when they die, know nothing of what happens in the land of the living, and that they await the resurrections of their bodies, either to eternal glory, or to eternal damnation, for that we have to believe that there is some Catholic saint who has the power to interfere in someone’s personal history?

The Bible is not clear about this: which is the false doctrine of soul sleep, which I have refuted, and so did John Calvin. I gave further arguments against it in the first part of my previous (31st) reply to Lucas.

For now, just these questions, so you can help me, because I’m losing my sleep because of all these problems, you know…

Delighted to be of some assistance . . .

but then there are more questions…

And I’ll be happy to answer them, too. I know the feeling. I keep asking Lucas a lot of questions, too! But very unlike me, he never answers mine!

I thank you in advance for your ever so precious help,

De nada.

because I don’t know what my life would be if it weren’t for Catholicism, this religion so lucid, so beautiful, so…, so… holy…,

Me, neither. Glad you feel the same way! Now that you actually have a minimal understanding of Catholicism, and have graduated from spiritual kindergarten and juvenile “gotcha!” [supposedly unanswerable] questions, I’m sure you’ll appreciate it all the more! As the Bible says:

Hebrews 5:12-13 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food; [13] for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child.

You’ve gotten plenty of milk today. Hopefully soon, you can move on to solid food and not need the bib and high chair anymore.

I don’t know what else to say…, words fail me, even…! Thank you Catholics! Thank you so much Catholics!

I loved the challenge. I hope Lucas keeps sending more! Unlike him, I actually reply to challenges and critiques and counter-replies. I’m weird that way. But it’s part of what apologists do. Strangely enough, I almost never hear back from the challenger after I take up their challenge. Go figure . . .

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Photo credit: Kalsom cheman (11-2-17) [Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.]

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Summary: Brazilian Protestant apologist Lucas Banzoli vainly tries to mock & deride Catholicism via several “questions for Catholics about prayer” that I answer & refute.


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