Just for Catholics

Praying to the Saints: A Dangerous Practice

Question: When I practiced the Catholic religion, I used to pray to the saints, as did my family and Catholic friends. Who answered the prayers I got answered and who is still answering my friends’ prayers as they still have their favourite saint who never fails them?

Answer: It is extremely dangerous to establish doctrine on the basis of subjective human experience rather than the Word of God.  If you pray to the saints and you get some sort of answer, you would wrongly conclude that praying to the saints must be fine. But surely you realize that there may be other causes for ‘the answer’ other than the dead saint hearing your prayers. The pagans pray to a multitude of false deities and they too get 'answers'! Should we then conclude that their pagan gods are real and that they too answer prayers?

Let me give you a couple of examples from the Bible to expose this danger. In Acts 14:8-18 Paul and Barnabas went to Lystra. After Paul miraculously cured a lame man, the people wanted to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas because they thought that they were the gods Hermes and Zeus. It was with great difficulty that the apostles restrained the crowd from sacrificing, telling them to turn from their ‘worthless things’ to the living God who was the source of all their blessings. God “has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” Clearly the people of Lystra wrongly attributed the goodness of God to their false deities. Sadly, this tragic mistake is repeated throughout human history and, despite the evidence pointing to the Lord, many continue in their false religions and attribute these very gifts to false gods.

Jeremiah 44:16-18 is an even more dramatic example of this sad reality. The prophet Jeremiah was preaching to the people of Israel and warning them of the coming judgment from God because of their idolatrous practices. This is how they argued with him:

As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you! But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble. But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.

They were praying to a pagan deity named the Queen of Heaven instead of praying to the Lord God, claiming that when they prayed to her they received all their needs, plenty of food and protection and so on. We know exactly who gave them the food and the protection but they ascribed them to a false god. Even worse, instead of repenting of their sins in the face of the Lord’s chastisement, they reasoned that they got into trouble because they stopped praying to this Queen of Heaven! The deception is astounding!

This is exactly what happens when someone rejects the revealed truth of God. The people of Lystra rejected the truth of God revealed in creation. The Israelites rejected the truth of God given through the prophets and the Scriptures. Both were pitifully mistaken in their interpretation of their religious experiences.

We have God’s truth both in nature and in the written Scriptures. As a Catholic you have heard the Bible read in Church many times. You noticed that the prayers of godly people were always addressed to God and that there is not a single example of Christians praying to dead saints in all of the Bible. You also know that when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He taught us to address our prayers to “Our Father in Heaven.”

You know these truths and therefore you are responsible to act accordingly. If you choose to ignore these simple facts and persist with the habit of praying to dead saints, then there is nothing to stop you from being deceived like the pagans and the Jews of old.

I implore you to turn away from this pagan practice and instead seek the face of God. “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Copyright Dr Joe Mizzi. Permission to copy and distribute this article without textual changes. < BACK TO Q&A