PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS
“Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you…” (2 Thess 3: 1)
Somebody asked me recently, Why don’t people in your church pray directly to God, but pray to saints? I replied that we do, indeed, pray directly to God, but we also ask for those strong in faith, the saints, to pray with us and for us; just as St. Paul asked other Christians to pray for him; just as the earliest Christians called St. Peter to come and pray when Tabitha had died, and by his prayers God granted Tabitha new life (Acts 9: 36-43), - just as then, today we still ask for, and benefit from, the prayers of the strong among us, including already-deceased saints like Peter.
We still have contact, in the “communion of the saints,” in the one Body of Christ, in His Spirit, with already-deceased saints, and unite with them in prayer; just as the already-deceased Moses and Elijah appeared to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration, speaking with Christ (Mt 17: 3). “He is not God of the dead, but God of the living,” as Jesus Himself reminds us (Mk 12: 27). While He is, indeed, a unique “mediator” between God and human beings, as St. Paul says (1 Tim 2: 5), because He is the only God-Man, Christ nonetheless unites all of us in prayer, both the already-deceased and those still here, in His Body and His Spirit. God is the One Source of sanctity and grace, but there are many vessels and channels of His grace, the “saints,” who are not divided, but united, in Him.
So let me not doubt the unity of Christ’s Body, on earth as it is in heaven. Let me not imagine a rift where there is none, because the saints in heaven do participate in, and offer up to God, the prayers of the saints on earth, as St. John tells us in the Book of Revelation: “…the twenty-four elders (the leaders of the people of God in heaven) fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Rev 5: 8)