A while back, we did an article on praying to the saints in Heaven, demonstrating how unbiblical this concept is. The article can be found here:
Although this practice is found in the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Churches, and even in some of the Protestant Churches, it seems to be most popular with Catholics. Note what the Catholic Church says about this teaching...
The Council of Trent teaches that “it is good and useful” to invoke (pray to) the saints in Heaven and ask them for their prayers, their aid, and their help in “obtaining benefits from God.” This same Council also warned that anyone who denies that this is true is “wholly to be condemned.” (Session 25, On the Invocation, Veneration, and Relics, of Saints, and on Sacred Images)
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the intercession of the saints will “fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness” and “by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.” (CCC #956)
The Catechism also says that “their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan.” (CCC #2683)
The Catholic document Lumen Gentium (“Light of the Nations”), which is a dogmatic constitution on the Church, tells us that the saints in Heaven, through their intercession, “lend nobility to the worship which the Church offers to God here on earth and in many ways contribute to its greater edification.” (Chapter 7, Paragraph 49)
According to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia (online):
“Canonization is a precept of the Roman Pontiff commanding public veneration to be paid an individual by the Universal Church.“ [Emphasis added]
“The pope then issues a Bull of Canonization in which he not only permits, but commands, the public cultus, or veneration, of the saint.” (“Beatification and Canonization”) [Emphasis added]
Concerning Mary, the Catechism says of her:
“… You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death” (CCC #966). [Emphasis added]
“Mary… by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation… Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Helper, Benefactress, and Mediatrix” (CCC #969). [Emphasis added]
“… The Church rightly honors ‘the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of “Mother of God,” to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs…’” (CCC #971) [Emphasis added]
If This is All True…
Ok, a lot of special claims have been made here concerning the intercession of saints, and (especially) Mary, in these official Catholic sources. According to Catholics, praying to saints has been a “universal practice of the church” since ancient times. If this is all true, and if praying to the saints in Heaven is “good and useful” to “obtain benefits from God,” if it does indeed “fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness,” and contributes so much to the “greater edification” of the church, delivering our souls from death, bringing us “gifts of eternal salvation,” and if the faithful are to “fly in all their dangers and needs” toward the saints’ protection... then surely, something of this magnitude would at least be mentioned in Scripture, wouldn’t you think?
It’s Just Not There
If all of the Catholic sources above are correct, then praying to Mary and the saints must be a wonderful and spiritually helpful thing to do. But if that’s true, then why is this concept totally absent from the God-breathed Scriptures (in spite of the confident claim of Catholics that this teaching is a biblical idea)? In the Bible, there are literally hundreds of references to prayer, and not a single one of them encourages us to pray to someone OTHER THAN GOD. In fact, we are warned that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24; Nahum 1:2), and the constant example is to call upon HIM in time of need… not saints, angels, etc. (Jeremiah 33:3; Psalm 50:15; 91:15; Matthew 6:6, 9). We are to pray to Him alone (Psalm 73:25).
So, has God been negligent, or perhaps even cruel, to withhold such a seemingly vital “treasure” from His people who study the Bible? No, this teaching of praying to saints is not a treasure, but a trap!
Strain a Gnat… Swallow a Camel
It is truly amazing that Catholics can, on the one hand, see an infallible dogma (the supposed “Immaculate Conception” of Mary, herself) in Luke 1:28 … and yet, on the other hand, altogether MISS such a simple and obvious biblical pattern of praying ONLY to God, a concept that is thoroughly interwoven throughout all the Scriptures! The pattern of hundreds of references to prayer is ignored in the one case, while a Catholic dogma is fabricated from the twisted “evidence” of (mainly) a single verse, in the other. This is not only tragic, but dishonest. And furthermore, to add insult to injury, remember, Catholics are commanded by the pope to pray to saints (as noted above) and those who don’t are condemned by the Council of Trent.
Catholics will often tell us that when they pray to saints, they are simply asking the saints to pray, or intercede, for them (the Catholic). But in many cases, it is obvious that their requests are so much more than just “asking for prayer.” In Scripture, prayer is never “just asking.” Rather, biblical prayer is an act of WORSHIP, humbly addressing Almighty God, and Him alone. Attempting to address anyone (or anything) else in prayer (even if only for the purpose of asking for intercession) is idolatry. Any alleged “benefits” from praying to Mary, angels or saints are deceptive, at best, and ultimately destructive to souls, at worst.