Praying to the Saints
Many wonder as to the purpose and need for faithful Christian to pray to the Virgin Mary and other specific saints of the Church when God Himself surely has it within His power to hear and answer our prayers of His own accord.
Certainly, faithful Orthodox Christians do pray to God directly, as is evident in all the prayer services of the church. But in addition to addressing God alone, saints are also entreated to intercede to the Lord on our behalf, much like when we ask our earthly friends and family to pray for us when we are sick or in need of anything.
Is it wrong then for Christians to pray for each other? God forbid! Yet, to entreat a saint is no different than my asking you to pray for me or you asking me to pray for you, with the exception that the holiness of the saints has been revealed or otherwise proven during or after their earthly course. We are admonished to pray for one another, and thus the power of prayer is manifested in our lives. “Where two or three are gathered together, there also am I in the midst.” If Mildred, for example, is in the hospital, the ladies’ prayer circle will pray for her. They pray to whom? To God of course.
It is God we are asking the righteous saints to entreat in our behalf, for the prayers of the righteous avail much. They are, so to speak, our heavenly prayer circle. In their proven love for God and for us, in their great Christian charity, the saints are always ready to aid the servant of God who still abide on this side of the grave by way of their most effectual prayers.
Unfortunately, there are those who, while claiming to believe in eternal life, yet reject the age-old practice of praying to saints as useless. They view the saints as being dead. But to consider the departed saints as being truly dead is to deny the resurrection of the soul. To consider them as dead for a period, such as until the last judgment, is to mistakenly ascribe the corrupt measurement of time in this life to the next. For while we are in time, nevertheless, they are not. The Lord said to the thief on the cross, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.”
From the earliest days of Christianity, the pious faithful have entreated the saints with sure hope of their help and protection in part because of their close proximity to the heavenly throne. To dismiss the validity of praying to saints is to reject a fundamental truth of Christianity and to deprive one’s self of a powerful, spiritual helpmeet. Those who struggle all alone become fainthearted. May we never be left without the prayerful aid of our heavenly benefactors, the saints.
Through the prayers of all the saints who in all the ages have been well pleasing to Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.