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Should I Pray to the Saints?

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There are a lot of questions that people have regarding prayer and how to pray effectively. One of these questions is if we should pray to saints. Some people question the practice of praying to saints, while some practice it and become devotees of some saints.

Should we pray to saints?

Praying to the saints means asking our departed brothers and sisters in Christ for their intercession. While a lot of people question the "rightness" of our practice of praying to the saints, I do pray to them and everybody who knows me know that I am a devotee of Saint Joseph.

I believe the saints hear our prayers and intercede for us before God, as implied from the following verses from Revelation.

When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:8 NRSV

Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Revelation 8: 3-4 NRSV

But let me emphasize that when I pray to the saints, I ask for their intercession, that is, I ask them to pray for my prayer intentions. I do not pray that they grant my prayer rather, I ask them to pray to God that my prayer be granted. So when I pray to them, I don't say, for example, "St. Joseph, please send me the money I need so that my house won't be foreclosed." Instead, I pray, "St. Joseph, please pray for me, please pray to God that I will have the money I need to pay the bank so that my house won't be foreclosed." It is God who grants our prayers, not the saints.

This seems to be a simple matter but I have received emails containing prayer requests from many individuals asking St. Joseph to find them a good husband, or sell their house, or send them money to lighten their financial burden, or restore their relationship with their husband or wife, etc. And then, their prayer requests will end with a 'thank you' to St. Joseph for granting their prayers.

This may just be a matter of semantics; perhaps they meant to thank St. Joseph in advance for interceding for them but I thought I'd mention this here just to be sure that we're on the same page. Again, it is God who grants our prayers, the saints pray and intercede for us so that our prayers will be granted.

Praying to the saints in heaven is like asking fellow Christians to pray for us. From this perspective, I don't think this runs in conflict with praying to God directly. Yes, we should pray to God directly for all our needs but this doesn't mean that we cannot ask our fellow Christians in heaven to intercede for us.

Praying for each other is simply part of what we do as Christians. St. Paul in his writings encouraged Christians to pray for one another.

The saints are already free from the temptations and distractions of this earthly life. They have already been made perfect otherwise they wouldn't be with God. Hence, their prayers are efficacious. As James said:

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
James 5: 16-18

The saints are certainly righteous and surely, their prayers are powerful and effective. It just makes sense to ask for their intercession. But don't forget to pray to God first and then ask the saints for their intercession.

Have you been praying for something for a very long time and still your prayer hasn't been granted? Go to http://www.how-to-pray-effectively.com and learn how to pray & develop a close relationship with God. Please also visit my blog for the answers to your biggest questions about prayer.

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