Why Do Catholics Pray to Saints?

Catholics Pray to Saints and to God

saint and childMany Protestants wonder why Catholics pray to saints when it seems obvious that Christians should only pray to God. Catholics do pray to saints, on All Saints' Day and throughout the year.

To understand why this is the case, it's important to examine the meaning of the word "pray." While many Christians assume "pray" means "to ask a divine being for a favor," it simply means to request. In English you can still see this meaning when we say "pray tell," i.e., "I'm requesting you to tell me."

If you examine common prayers to the saints, these prayers are actually asking the saints to pray for us. When we "pray" to the saints, we are asking them, by their examples and prayers, to lead us closer to Christ.

Remember, the saints are in heaven and in close communion with God. They are fully living in a state of prayer, and since we are connected to them in the communion of the saints, the saints are constantly in a state of prayer for the Church, which includes us.

Thus prayers (requests) to God, and prayers (requests) to the saints are very different in content, style, and theological assumptions, and should not be confused. Praying to (making a request of) a saint is like making a request of your pastor or minister. In the Catholic understanding, this is all that is happening.

When you need it, you probably ask your pastor to pray for you because you know he is a deep and prayerful person, and you would like his prayers. And, do saints even "hear" our prayers? We don't know. We do know, however, that they are in a state of prayer by their very being, so it's a good assumption that if they don't hear them, they certainly are praying for you.

All Christians recognize that God hears the prayers of His people, and we find comfort in the prayers of those who are especially close to Christ, the saints in heaven. So for those who are wondering why Catholics pray to saints, this is why.



Updated 8-14-2018