Radio Show

What’s the Point of Intercessory Prayer?


A caller named Mark asks Father Dave about intercession, which is something he doesn’t completely understand.

So, how exactly does intercessory prayer, the act of asking Mary or the saints to pray to God on your behalf, work? Mark explains to Father Dave that he can’t comprehend why, if God is omnipotent, human beings would ask somebody in heaven to change God’s mind. Isn’t intercession just praying for a decision God has already made, but that we think is wrong? Or do we pray to Mary and the saints when God is too busy to hear our prayers?

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Father Dave tells Mark that in both the Old and New Testaments, God actually encourages us to practice intercessory prayer and to continuously ask him for things. He uses Abraham’s consistent petitions to God in the Old Testament as an example.

He goes on to clarify the meaning of intercessory prayer, which is an invitation to Mary and the saints to ask God a question with us or for us. Mark says that for him, praying on behalf of another person means more than praying to a saint. Although praying for others helps us to understand each other, there’s a distinction between praying for others and intercessory prayer. Every night on the Busted Halo Show, people ask Father Dave to pray for others, and this does help people, but intercessory prayer is also helpful, as it benefits the saints.

RELATED: 5 Creative Ways to Pray for Others

Father Dave likens asking for a saint’s intercession to requesting that a saxophonist play a certain song (“Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty, for instance, Father Dave quips). Saints love to pray, just as saxophonists love to play “Baker Street,” so why wouldn’t you ask them to pray for you? He sums up intercessory prayer by telling Mark that intercession doesn’t make them better saints, “But they are in another completely other-centered way of life, so they can’t wait to pray to God for us.”

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