Why Do We Pray to Saints?

Question: Why do we pray to saints? Should we really? Is it in the Bible somewhere? When I was little my Mom would tell me to pray to Mary, God was busy, she said.

Have you ever had a friend who you asked to pray for you? That’s exactly the same thing that you’re doing when you ask a saint to pray for you. The big difference is that saints are people who the church has ample evidence that they are conclusively in heaven with God. So we ask for what we call their intercession. Intercession means that we ask them to be the “middle person” between us and God. They bring our prayers to God and ask God to receive these prayers and to grant our requests. Because we believe that saints are indeed closer to God than we are at present, we believe that they surely might be people that can help us with what we most need.

We also need to believe that our prayers are always answered by God giving us what we need, not merely what want or what we think we need. The saints are people who have fallen into the same sinful traps that we do constantly, so they know to ask God for what will truly benefit us and not merely what will placate us.

Lastly, your mother’s thoughts on Mary are half-right. God is never too busy for us. However, who can be closer to Jesus than Mary? So we believe that Mary might especially be a good saint to pray to for what we truly need.

Mike Hayes is the Director of Young Adult Ministry in the Diocese of Cleveland and a candidate for the Diaconate. He’s also the host of 5 Questions with the Paulists and the podcast Question of Faith. Mike is one of the founders of Busted Halo and has worked with young adults his entire ministry career in retreat, spiritual direction, and campus Ministry. He’s the author of "Googling God" (Paulist, 2007) and "Loving Work" (Orbis, 2012). Mike and his wife Marion live in Lakewood, OH with their dog, Vito.