Praying to the saints goes back to the early, early church. But before we go on, let me clear up a huge misnomer about praying to our deceased brothers and sisters in Christ.
First of all, Catholics do not pray TO saints. They ask the saints to pray for them. In other words, they ask the saints in heaven to intercede for them. This practice has been engaged in since the earliest days of the Christian religion.
Catholics pray to the saints, and so do people in the Eastern Orthodox Church, other Eastern Christians and even some Anglicans. Three-quarters of the Planet Earth’s Christians ask the saints in heaven to intercede for them.
In Revelation 5:8, John describes the saints in Heaven offering our prayers to God in “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
In the Bible, Paul the Apostle says this: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.” (1 Tim. 2:5) When Catholics ask a saint to intercede for them, they are asking for that saint’s intersession, NOT his or her mediation. Heaven forbid! Jesus is our only mediator.
We ask other believers to pray for us all the time. Sometimes we ask a certain person because that person can relate to the thing that we need prayer for. It is the same thing with the saints. I ask St. Teresa of Lisieux to pray for me to be more unselfish because St. Teresa of Lisieux was heroically unselfish.
Do Catholics Pray to the Dead?
Fundamentalist Christians often say that we have been forbidden by God to have any contact with the dead. Their proof text is Deuteronomy 18:10-11, where Fundamentalists liken praying to the saints to divination. But when you compare the Deuteronomy text with 1 Samuel 28:3-14, where it says that divination is conjuring up information from the dead (not asking the saints to pray for us), you see the obvious flaw in that argument.
We ask the saints on earth and the saints in heaven to pray for us. This is intercession.
But we do not ask the Ouija board to tell us who we are going to marry or how long we are going to live. That is divination. Do you see the difference?
If God wanted us to pray to Jesus only, then why do we ask other Christians to pray for us? We ask for their intercession because God tells us all over the New Testament that asking for intersession is a good thing to do.
Here are some of those verses and explanations:
•1 Corinthians 12:26 – We all suffer when another suffers.
•Galatians 6:2 – We are to hold each other up.
•James 5:16 – A righteous man’s prayer is very effective.
•Revelation 4:8 – Those in heaven never stop praying.
•.Luke 15:7 – The saints in heaven care about everyone on earth.
•Tobit 12:12 – Sarah’s and Tobit’s prayer to God was given to God by an angel.. (Intercession)
•Matthew 18:10 – Even the angels pray for our wellbeing.
•Revelation 5:8 – Both the angels and the saints in heaven give God our prayers.
•Revelation 8:3-4 – The angels also add their own prayers to ours and give them to God.
•2 Maccabees 15:11-14 – Two dead people, Jeremiah and Onias, pray for Israel.
Catholics pray directly to Jesus just as often as Protestants do. So why should we ask Christians on earth and in heaven to pray for us? Because God told us to in the Scriptures.
Fullness of Our Faith
Asking the saints on earth and in heaven to intercede for us is one of the things that broadens our view of God and the fullness of our faith that has so liberally been given to us.
Why not practice one of the good things that God has asked us to do? Or rather, I would say — why not?