I have a strange question, Ray. Have you always believed in praying to, or going through, saints, like Mary, Mother of Jesus? Or is this a relatively new thing? It seems to me that JESUS is the only One to be prayed to and through.
I received this question on Facebook from a member of my church from my non- denominational days in the 1980’s. It is a good and an important question because it helps to clarify a common misconception. Her conclusion is exactly right. We only pray to and through Jesus, or to be more precise, to and through the Blessed Trinity. As Anglicans we do not pray TO the saints, but many of us believe that we pray WITH the saints. What is the difference?
If I am having a problem is it permissible to call a fellow Christian and ask for their prayers? Of course it is because we have examples throughout the Epistles of the Apostle asking for the prayers of others. In the Revelation to John we are given a glimpse into heaven where we see saints praying, as represented by heavenly incense (Rev 5). They are aware of our struggles on earth as they cry out to the Lord, “How long?” (Rev 6).
This usually poses another question. “Why would we need the prayers of the saints if we have Jesus praying for us?” Let me answer that question with a question. “Why would Jesus need angels to minister to Him if He is one with the Father?” (Matt 4:11). The answer in both cases is because that is what the Lord has ordained. We are not just united with Christ, we are united with one another as His Body and since Christ has only one Body, heaven and earth are united to one another as well. (Heb 12:22-24). God has ordained that we need one another. We are family.
One of the most loving things that we can do is to pray for each other. As long as we believe that “there is only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5) then we remain in the truth if we call upon the Body of Christ to pray for us. We are not asking for saints (either on earth or in heaven) to mediate between God and us, rather we are asking for their prayerful support. Frankly I don’t see the difference between picking up the phone and asking a friend for prayer or calling upon a saint in glory. As a sinful man I need all of the prayers that I can get and so I take every advantage of the grace that God provides through the communion of the saints. My father prayed for his family every day and now that he is in glory I have no reason to believe that he has stopped. I also pray for him to continue to grow in the love and service of the Lord. Our prayers for each other keep us united in Christ and also prove that death cannot stop love.