CAN WE PRAY TO THE SAINTS?
Since the third century, invocation of defunct Christians considered to be ‘saints’ and in God’s presence, has been practiced in Christendom, and eventually been accepted as established doctrine by all traditional branches of Christianity around the world.
Even though the Bible expressly forbids to contact the dead, under any circumstance or form (Deuteronomy 18:9-14), and only God has the power to listen to prayers passing the barrier of death and from multiple people at the same time, this practiced filtered into Christianity from the Hellenic mind of the gentile converts, as well as other practices like the veneration of images and the cult of angels (Colossians 2:18-19; Ephesians 4:17).
COMMUNION OF SAINTS
The biblical doctrine of Communion of Saints (John 17:21; 1Thessalonians 5:11; James 5:16) is invoked to justify this erroneous practiced, arguing that since the Christians dead are in God’s presence, they can pray for us, and that because they are still part of the Body of Christ, they can be invoked to ask them for intercession.
This does not consider the following:
1 – The Body of Christ is one, and it is conformed by the living members of the Church as well as the departed ones in Glory. However, their conditions are totally different in more than one aspect. The salvation of the living is still tested, while the dead’s is already guaranteed. The living still subjected to temptation, the ones in Glory not. The living saints are separated from the departed ones by the barrier of death.
Only God can deal with each member of the Body of Christ, alive or dead, since only God can transcend the barrier of death.
2 – The call of Lord Jesus to be one, and from the apostles to pray for, and confess to one another, refers only to the living members of the Church, not the departed ones.
There is nothing to assume that the dead saints are part of this commandment.
OTHER REASONS WHY WE SHOULD NOT CONTACT THE DEPARTED SAINTS
There are also other theological reasons why is useless to try to contact the departed saints.
1 - Death is an invincible barrier that separates the living from the dead, saints, and sinners alike.
There is nothing in the Scripture that may lead us to believe that the dead are aware of what happens on Earth, or able to listen any of the living. This idea is foreign to Christianity, and it is born from magical practices of paganism (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6). None of the saints of Heaven can listen to any living creature. They are beyond the reach of the living.
2 – Humans conserve their natural human faculties after dead. They still have the same personality and virtues they had while alive, and the condemned also preserve their vices and sins. Only God is omniscient in the universe, no other created being is.
Only God has the faculty to trespass the invincible barrier of death, and able to listen the petitions of millions of people elevating prayers to Him all over the world at the same time, 24 hours a day. No saint can do this.
The attribution of god-like qualities to the departed is also an idea of pagan origin, which attributed similar qualities to their demigods.
A FINAL REASON
There is also an exegetical reason of why it is useless to ask for the intercession of the departed.
It is commonly said that the saints or Mary are intercessors between Jesus and humans, and that their intercession can do what our prayers cannot do.
The Bible calls Jesus the ONLY MEDIATOR between God and men:
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus”
Through his incarnation, Jesus united his divine nature with our humanity.
One of the purposes of this incarnation, was to feel the human temptations and weaknesses, so that we may know that He understands us when we fall in sin and claim for help and forgiveness (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Jesus is the only intermediary between God and humanity, because as a man without sin, there is nobody who can understand us better than Him, in all aspects of our existence. The incarnation would be pointless if there was no mercy in Jesus or lack of understanding of our weaknesses so that we would need someone else to ask Him to ‘listen’ our claims.
Jesus alone is declared to be the bridge that unites the divinity with our finite humanity, and He is all sufficient.
Invocation of saints is an old practice, but it is wrong.
The fact that it is old, does not make it right. It contradicts the Bible principles and was never practiced by primitive Christians for the first 300 years.
It crept into Christianity, the same way it filtered into Judaism and Islam, in open opposition to the theology of those religions, due to the influx of Hellenic pagan ideology.
The departed saints pray for us. That is certain. They are not in an unconscious state or absorbed into their own happiness. They still live holy lives, and intercede for humanity, the Church, and all of God’s intentions until the Great Judgement Day (Revelation 6:9-11), but they do this on their own accord, and not because they are aware of the living or by listening to our petitions.
To invoke saints is invocation of the dead, and it is sinful.
The intercession of Jesus to the Father is the unique and only invocation humans can do.