Why pray to saints when you have direct access to God?

Why pray to saints when you have direct access to God?

In Protestant churches, we are used to praying to God the Father. That’s how the Lord’s Prayer starts, and all the Biblical prayers are directed towards God. Prayer is a fundamental part of what it means to be one of God’s children.

In the Roman Catholic Church, however, it is common to pray to all kinds of saints as well as to God the Father. If you lose something, you might choose to pray to Saint Anthony to help you find it. If you have an issue with a pet, you might decide to pray to St Francis to help out. And, of course, many pray regularly to Mary the Mother of Jesus for all kinds of needs.

That seems very strange to those who haven’t ever been in the Roman Catholic Church or one of their institutions. The logic is simple, though not found in the Bible. These great believers from the past, known as saints, are clearly approved by God. If you want to be heard by God, the thinking goes, then you should ask a saint who will petition God on your behalf.

Sometimes this does go further into a kind of paganism. Asking St Anthony to help you find something, for example, is really putting St Anthony as a god who is in charge of lost things. Deciding to ask different people for different things is like the ancient pagan religions which had different gods or goddesses in charge of different aspects of life. That’s hard to reconcile with one true God who is in charge of everything.

In reality, prayer should be much simpler than that. Matthew 6 is so helpful here. There’s a lot of instruction on prayer there, but here are some key ideas:

  • Prayer should be directed to our Heavenly Father (v9). There is no Biblical precedent for praying to deceased believers.
  • Prayer should be simple, not complicated (v7). You don’t need to use fancy religious language.
  • Prayer doesn’t need to twist God’s arm to listen to you. God already loves you more than you could know, so just ask (v8).

If you are a believer, you are special to God. You are a saint in the full Biblical sense, one who is holy in God’s sight and set apart to be his. You don’t need to pray a certain number of times or in a certain way or to some particular deceased believer for God to hear you. Make the most of this simple and powerful gift. Pray directly to God, knowing He hears you, he loves you, and he directs all things for the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28).