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Angels are real; they are biblical; they are ministering servants of God who worship him and do his bidding. Googling “angels + Billy Graham” (1) or “angels + David Jeremiah” (2) will reveal articles these men have written that explore what the Bible says about angels. But do angels take my prayers and “roll” them into God’s presence for me?
Recently I read a blog post written by a friend who described a self-proclaimed “vision” she had received from (she said) God. In her “picture” she saw herself “rolling” her prayers to God. She could only roll them a short distance, however. Two angels then took over and rolled her needs over the vast expanses of the universe to the very laps of God the Father and Jesus, who were seated together in heaven. Although my friend did make some excellently comforting points in her post about negative feelings, worries, fears, and the like being dispelled in the presence of God’s love and peace, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Is her picture biblical? Do angels indeed intercede for us and transport our prayers into God’s presence?”
Actually, no, this is not what the Bible teaches. If I lived “back in the day,” I would even call this a Gnostic teaching. While God does send angels to watch over, guard, and protect his children, we do not ever need angels to “roll” our prayers to him.
What does the Bible say?
Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (ESV)
Romans 8:34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died– more than that, who was raised– who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (ESV)
The above passages teach that God the Holy Spirit and God the Son intercede for us. I don’t know about you, but with two of the three persons of the Trinity interceding for me, I don’t think I need angels to pray as well. What else does the Bible teach?
Hebrews 7:25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (ESV)
The verse in Hebrews 7:25 and its surrounding context teach that Jesus Christ is the eternal high priest of the saints, who “always lives to make intercession for them.” The word “intercession” means to pray for someone else. Hebrews also teaches that Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven have given Christians, those who believe in Christ, direct access to God the Father. Christians don’t need angels to “roll” their prayers into God’s presence–I myself can enter God’s presence in Christ who lives in me:
Hebrews 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession … 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV)
Colossians 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (ESV)
Angels are created beings, just as humans have been created. Jesus Christ the Son of God is eternal co-creator with God the Father. He is God. The distance between us and angels is nothing compared to the distance between angels and God. Listen to these amazing verses about Christ alone from Colossians:
Colossians 1:15-20 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (ESV)
Colossians 2:2…Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (ESV)
Colossians 2:9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (ESV)
The only verses in the New Testament connecting prayer with angels are found in Revelation. John’s writing in this letter is highly symbolic. In context with the verses from Romans and Hebrews the few Revelation verses, spoken as they are in symbolic pictures, cannot establish a theology of angels transporting prayers to Christ, as though without the angels the prayers could not traverse the distance. There is no distance between Christians and Christ.
John 17:21 … you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, 23 I in them and you in me, … (ESV)
Paul’s prayer for the Colossians is that they “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” (Colossians 1:9). Part of spiritual wisdom is learning to discern between what is Scripture and what is not Scripture. It is scriptural to believe that the prayers of Christians are heard directly by the Father because of Christ. It is not scriptural to believe that Christians need the services of angels to carry their prayers a vast distance between themselves and the throne of grace. There is no distance. Spiritually, all Christians are united with the Father through Jesus Christ the Son.
1 “The Bible doesn’t say the angels pray for us — and the reason is because One far greater than the angels already is praying for us: the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the divine Son of God, who even now sits in heaven interceding for us (see Hebrews 7:25). Is your faith and trust in Him — both for today and for eternity?” Quotation from Billy Graham, available at https://billygraham.org/answer/do-the-angels-in-heaven-pray-for-us/, accessed May 18, 2020.
2 “We are never told to pray to angels. We pray to God, and He sends the help we need.” Quotation from David Jeremiah, available at https://davidjeremiah.blog/angels-in-the-bible/, accessed on May 18, 2020.