I typed that question to get your attention. We don’t actually pray to saints – we ask their intercession. “Ah, but there is but one mediator between God and man, and that is Jesus,” you might say. (1 Timothy 2: 5-6) You would be correct! Jesus’ death on the cross was expiation for our sin. “Expiation” means the healing of a broken relationship. Without Christ’s mediation/interceding for us, there would be no expiation. We would be unable to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Catholics consider the saints in heaven to be part of our big family, the Church. There is the church militant – those of us on earth, the church suffering – those in purgatory, and the church triumphant – those who have made it to heaven. Just as we would not hesitate to ask a friend here on earth to pray for us for a particular need, we don’t hesitate to ask our friends in purgatory or in heaven to pray for us either.
There are books and websites that help us to become familiar with the saints. AmericanCatholic.org (Saint of the Day) is a good one. I believe that there is an APP for iPhones as well.
Saints are recognized in the Church as role models – people who have traveled this earthly journey before us, and who have triumphed because of their great faith in Jesus. I have many favorite saints, but my “go to guys” for prayers are: St. Anthony, Padre Pio, St. Therese’ and St. Theresa of Avila. Of course, I ask Mary’s prayers daily, and often call upon the saints for whom my children were named to petition God to keep them on the right path – close to His heart!
Why not go directly to God, you might ask? I do! Quite often, I begin my prayers with “Dear God, or Dear Heavenly Father.” I also often end with “In Jesus Name we pray.” (John 14:13-14) I love the Lord’s prayer that Jesus taught us in Matthew Chapter 6. Do you notice that Jesus does not end that prayer “in Jesus name” or “in My name?” Just thinking out loud.
My mother taught me to pray from the heart, and for that, I am so grateful. I think that there is a place for many forms of prayer – rote, heartfelt, meditation, song, etc. To help my students (who sometimes come to me only comfortable with memorized prayers), I teach them the ACTS acronym – Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication. This helps them to make a well-rounded prayer from the heart when they are at a loss for words.
Speaking of that, I love the Christian Song, Just Say Jesus. “…When you don’t know what to say, just say Jesus. There is power in the name, the name of Jesus…” You can listen to it here. Sometimes, just saying Jesus’ beautiful name in reverence is all that is needed!