The story about the angel Raphael helping Tobias defeat the demon and heal his father’s blindness has led to a movement that has elevated Raphael to a high position within many churches and religious groups. They look to him as the patron of health, healers, travelers, and happy marriages. Here are a few of many prayers that are written for approaching Raphael for healing, protection, and guidance.
“Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, you are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners. I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God” I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor (here mention your special intention), and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
“Dear St. Raphael, your lovely name means ‘God heals.’ The Lord sent you to young Tobias to guide him throughout a long journey. Upon his return you taught him how to cure his father’s blindness. How natural, therefore, for Christians to pray for your powerful help for safe travel and a happy return. This is what we ask for ourselves as well as for all who are far from home. Amen.”
This next one will take us to an important point about the story of Raphael in Tobit.
“Mary, Queen of the Angels, pray for us. Saint Raphael, the Archangel, pray for us. Saint Raphael, whose name means ‘God has healed’, pray for us. Saint Raphael, preserved with the good Angels in God’s kingdom, pray for us. Saint Raphael, one of the seven spirits that stand before the Most High, pray for us. Saint Raphael, ministering to God in heaven, pray for us. Saint Raphael, noble and mighty Messenger of God, pray for us. Saint Raphael, devoted to the Holy Will of God, pray for us. Saint Raphael, who offered to God the prayers of the father Tobit, pray for us. Saint Raphael, traveling-companion of the young Tobiah, pray for us. Saint Raphael, who guarded your friends from danger, pray for us. Saint Raphael, who found a worthy wife for Tobiah, pray for us. Saint Raphael, who delivered Sarah from the evil sririts, pray for us. Saint Raphael, who healed the father Tobit of his blindness, pray for us. Saint Raphael, guide and protector on our journey through life, pray for us. Saint Raphael, strong helper in time of need, pray for us. Saint Raphael, conqueror of evil, pray for us. Saint Raphael, guide and counselor of your people, pray for us. Saint Raphael, protector of pure souls, pray for us. Saint Raphael, patron Angel of youth, pray for us. Saint Raphael, Angel of joy, pray for us. Saint Raphael, Angel of happy meetings, pray for us. Saint Raphael, Angel of chaste courtship, pray for us. Saint Raphael, Angel of those seeking a marriage partner, pray for us. Saint Raphael, Angel of a happy marriage, pray for us. Saint Raphael, Angel of home life, pray for us. Saint Raphael, Guardian of the Christian family, pray for us. Saint Raphael, protector of travelers, pray for us. Saint Raphael, patron of health, pray for us. Saint Raphael, heavenly physician, pray for us. Saint Raphael, helper of the blind, pray for us. Saint Raphael, healer of the sick, pray for us. Saint Raphael, patron of physicians, pray for us. Saint Raphael, consoler of the afflicted, pray for us. Saint Raphael, support of the dying, pray for us. Saint Raphael, herald of blessings, pray for us. Saint Raphael, defender of the church, pray for us.”
Raphael, a supposed angel, is addressed as a “saint.” Are angels ever addressed as “saints” in the protocanonical Books of the Bible? Gabriel, Michael, and Lucifer are the only angels addressed by name in those Books and never called “saints.” The only time we find the word “angel” and “saint” used together is in Revelation.
“Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.” Revelation 8:3-4
The angel offered incense with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the Throne of God. The incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. The angel was not called a saint and the angel did not pray for believers. The angel offered God the “prayers of the saints” to God.
Do angels “pray” for believers? Not according to the protocanonical Books of the Bible. Angels respond to the prayers of believers (e.g. Daniel 10), but there is no evidence that they pray for saints in the sense Raphael is requested to do.
Look at how Raphael is addressed in this prayer … whose name means ‘God has healed,’ noble and mighty Messenger of God, guide and protector on our journey through life, protector of pure souls, Guardian of the Christian family, protector of travelers, patron of health, heavenly physician, helper of the blind, healer of the sick, patron of physicians, consoler of the afflicted, support of the dying, herald of blessings, defender of the church.
If I didn’t know better, I would think this Litany in Honor of St. Raphael was a prayer to Jesus Christ based on all the things Raphael supposedly can do. And that is a big problem with Tobit. It leaves the reader with a strong impression that Raphael is someone to whom we should pray and pay homage. The honor given to Raphael sounds like something Satan would enjoy hearing. How might one of God’s angel respond to such accolades?
“Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, ‘See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” Revelation 22:8-9
“Worship God.” A true angel of God will not allow any believer to worship them, pay homage to them, or give them special honor. They know that all worship, homage and honor belong to the God of Heaven. Do a thorough study of angels in the Bible (not including Apocrypha) and you will see that angels are fellow servants and ministering spirits, not idols to be worshipped and praised.
This angel worship is something the Apostle Paul warned about in his letter to the Christians at Colosse. We would be wise to heed his advice.
“So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— ‘Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,’ which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” Colossians 2:16-23
Christians must take great care to never allow anyone, angel or man, take the place of Jesus in our heart and mind. God is a Jealous God and will not share His Glory with any man or angel. If you want health, safe travel, and a happy marriage, pray to God.
In the next part of our study we will look at Judith and other books of the Apocrypha to see if any of them deserve the title: The Word of God.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”