Do Catholics "pray to saints" or "ask for intercession"

I am searching for my home in a church, and have many questions, please be patient.

I was baptised and 1st communion Catholic, but drifted away. I saw too many things that did not seem right.

I am now married to a Catholic, and am a Christian who loves God. I go to mass with my wife, but there are some real issues I have with the church yet - please be patient.

The concept of “Saints” is a little iffy for me. First - do Catholics pray to saints or ask for intercession? It seems hard to keep the two separate, and praying to anyone but God is wrong in what I believe.

Second - going to a “Saint” implys to me that God won’t listen to just me, seems counter to Jesus’ teaching.

Again - please answer patient and honestly - thank you.

It is not either/or. Asking for something (intercession) IS, be definition, “praying”. There sometimes is confusion where a person tries to equate “prayer” with “worship”. These are NOT the same thing. Prayer does not equal worship.

Second - going to a “Saint” implys to me that God won’t listen to just me, seems counter to Jesus’ teaching.

God’s Word (Scripture) not only shows us examples of people going through one another (interceeding) and praying for each other, but tells us the the prayer of a righteous person bears much fruit. God WILL listen to you directly. But we are also encouraged to ask one another for prayers and are informed, by God’s Word, the asking prayers of the righteous is beneficial.

ETA: You might find this short blog/article helpful. It was specifically written in response to another blogger but I did put some effort into making it applicable to the general reader. It talks about the definition of “prayer” and deals with praying to the Saints:

These two things are the same thing.

That is an unfortunate consequence of the English language evolving to where “pray” means something very different now than it used to, well in popular use anyway.

The word “pray” simply means “to ask”. That is still the definition in the dictionary. So, we ask Saints for intercession. We pray.

What you really mean is worship. We do not worship Saints. That becomes very clear in the Latin which has different words for worship of God and reverence for Saints. Latria and Dulia.

Then why does Paul encourage people to pray for him? Why do you pray for others? Why is my facebook page filled up every day with people asking for prayers for X, Y, or Z? How is it different to ask a Saint to pray for you than to post on facebook asking all your other friends to pray for you?

Would it be accurate to say that some prayers actually do ask the particular Saint for something, as well as asking for intercessory prayer from them? For a simple example; St. Michael; “St. Michael the archangel defend us in battle.” So you are directing your petition to St. Michael directly and not asking him to go to God with it, or for you?

Sure, it’s fair to say that. So, by whose (Whose) power does St. Michael, for example, defend us in battle? By his own? Or by God’s? The Catholic believes that it is by God’s. We recognize that God gave Michael the Archangel a role as defender, so to speak, and we honor that. Similarly, Paul’s facecloths were literally used to heal people. There is not mention in Scripture whether these cloths healed by Paul’s own power, or by God’s power working THROUGH Paul (and through his facecloths). But I dont’ think you’d find any Christian that would believe that it was through Paul’s power, or that the cloth had some power apart from God. God chooses to work via certain means/people, and Catholcis recognize and honor that.

I pray to saints all the time. St. Augustine, St. Benedict, St. Josemaria Escriva, St. Monica, St. Rose…

I go to a Novena to St. Jude twice each month and pray the following:

St. Jude, cousin and friend of Jesus during His life on earth, you were chosen by Christ to be His Apostle and to learn directly from Him His redeeming love; join us now in prayer before the Father. We acknowledge your apostolic role in forming the foundation of Christ’s Church and in taking to many distant lands the message of Christ’s love for all people. We rejoice at your generous love for Christ and humanity which ended in martyrdom. We fully believe you now exult in the happiness of heaven and share forever friendship and intimacy with Jesus. As the patron of hopeless cases and desperate situations, we ask your help. We are aware of the complete trust we must have in God’s mercy and love. Intercede with God to give us the strong faith to live with the sorrows and trials of life, and to help us to see in our troubles God’s guiding hand. Amen.

I talk with the saints as if they are my friends, and ask them to take my prayers to Jesus.


Thank you for your direct explanation and clarification! :tiphat:

Here’s an excerpt from my aforementioned article:

“God gave power to Elisha’s bones to restore life (2Kgs 13:20-21). Do you think God can’t grant that a person can answer a simple prayer request? Do you think it’s more miraculous for a saint in Heaven to answer a prayer for healing [by God’s Power] than it was for Peter’s shadow to grant healing (Acts 5:15-16)? Do you think it’s more unlikely to have a prayer [to any given saint] answered than it was to be cured by one of Paul’s facecloths (Acts 19:11-12)?”

But still, there is the question of asking someone other than God for something…is it the same as “worship”? The answer is “no”. I think, and this is just my speculation, that the reason some folks think “prayer” and asking for intercesssions from the Saints is the same as “worhsip” is because PRAYER is the only form of “worship” they know which they can give to God. Catholics, on the other hand, WORSHIP God in a Biblical sense with Adoration and the continuation of the commemoration of Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on Calvary. Prayer, in a Biblical sense, and to the Catholic, is reverence, honor, veneration…but NOT worship (Adoration).

Hope this helps.and this.

I too spent many years away from the Church - returning some 7 years ago or so…

I am now married to a Catholic, and am a Christian who loves God. I go to mass with my wife, but there are some real issues I have with the church yet - please be patient.

Have no fear…there are many patient folks here ready to serve by answering your questions. I hope that you will be equally patient with us if we don’t quite something here or there.

The concept of “Saints” is a little iffy for me. First - do Catholics pray to saints or ask for intercession? It seems hard to keep the two separate, and praying to anyone but God is wrong in what I believe.

As others have already explained - you seem to be suffering froma common misconception about what “pray” means. Not that long ago one would be able to find “pray” used more commonly. The question, “pray tell me something”, would not be thought amiss and certainly not seen as some form of "worship.

Second - going to a “Saint” implies to me that God won’t listen to just me, seems counter to Jesus’ teaching.

While others have touched on this as well…just allow me to say that there is nothing in Catholic teaching that requires one to pray to a saint. So - given your feelings here - you could simply choose not to do it. Just pray to the Father. No problem from the Catholic perspective.

In the larger context, and not knowing your protestant background, it may be that you were taught that the saints are “asleep” or some such and thus can’t hear us…

The Catholic Church holds that there are three parts to “The Church”. We here on earth are part of the “Church Militant”. Those in Purgatory are called the “Church Suffering” and those in heaven are the “Church triumphant”. The Church triumphant, being in heaven are quite alive and able to hear us and to pray with us.

Again - please answer patient and honestly - thank you.

We love getting questions from people who are truly seeking to learn. And honest answers are the only kind we want to give. :thumbsup:

I hope our answers are being useful


When you ask a saint for his intercession you are praying to the saint. God bless you.

ahs, Excellent explanation !!

In some of the other denominations they lay their hands & pray over you. They are interceding for you, the same way we ask Saints to intercede for us. I heard it put this way when I was little, they are in Heaven, therefore closer to Jesus, so they can ask HIM.
Saints have found favor with God, so we ask them to help us in our needs. Worship is for GOD alone.

One should never pray TO the Saint as if they are the ones we’re really praying to. When we pray “to” the Saints, we pray for them to pray/intercede for us TO God in the name of Jesus Christ.

I typically end these prayers (and most prayers) with something like: “I ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord” or that plus adding things like “who with the Father and Holy Spirit, live and reign one God for ever and ever. Amen”

At the end of the day all prayers should addressed to God even if we’re asking someone else to pray for us.

This is a very, very good post.


Still, we are praying TO the saint when we ask for his/her intercession, for we are *addressing *him/her in prayer, despite the fact that he/she must take our petition before God. When we address God in prayer (e.g. in the Our Father) our prayer is exclusively to Him; when we address our prayer to a saint , the prayer is to them, and they in turn pray to God for us. If a child asks his mother for five dollars and she in turn must ask her husband for it, as he holds all the family’s money – the child still is asking his mother for the $5 – not the father. Clearly his request is TO the person addressed, his mother, even though she is not the one who possesses the money he needs. God bless you.

Praying to Saints and the Communion of Saints Proved from Scripture

**1. Every Christian is a member of the Body of Christ **

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5)

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13)

And we are joined with Christ through baptism

“having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Colossians 2:12)

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)

“for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (Galatians 3:27)

**2. All Christians are connected through the Body of Christ **

“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”(1 Corinthians 12:26)

“If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you” (2 Corinthians 2:5)

**3. Physical death does not separate us from the Body of Christ **

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

**4. There is only one Body of Christ in Heaven and on Earth **

“by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2:15-16)

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-5)

**5. The Church is the Body of Christ **

“And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:22-23)

“And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18)

**6. Just as we can pray for one another, we can suffer for one another because we are all connected in Christ **

“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (Colossians 1:24)

7. If you can ask a member of the Body of Christ on earth to pray for you, then you can also ask someone who is a member of that same Body of Christ in heaven to do the same for they are not “dead” at all.

“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive." (Luke 20:38)

Okay, think of it this way. Have you ever asked anyone to pray for you? If you have, that’s intercessory prayer!

Now, when someone dies, we believe they are alive! We believe they continue to live. Particularly ones who have been demonstrated to have lived a very holy lives, ones whose bodies didn’t decay, etc., the Church considers for sainthood.

Anyway, in the same way I can ask you for prayers, or you could ask me. We believe we can ask others, who have already died, led exemplary lives, been canonized, for prayers. In fact, we believe it to be even more advantageous to ask someone we believe to already be in heaven for prayers rather than a sinner, on earth.

We ask the saint to pray on our behalf, like you ask your friend to pray on your behalf. It’s the same thing.

Now, have you ever been around kids and noticed how sometimes a child will go to a father and get a “no”. He’ll go then to his mother. If he can manage to get his mother to agree with him, sometimes if she goes, on his behalf, and intercedes for him, the father will actually listen!

That’s like intercessory prayer.

I want to ad something to all the answers, you have, Do not worry or concern about the Pray of the Saints thing, It is not Mandatory that you have to ask for intercession, we do believe that Saints live a extraordinary life, they are a great example of what a Christian should be.

Don’t get things complicated right now, Jesus Found our Church, He is the Head, the foundation, The Savior, and the King, We have the Honor to be invited to receive his body and his blood every mass, The Eucharist my friend.
We do believe in the communion of the saints, But Jesus is The One and Only
personally i don’t get to pray for any saint, I do have ask Jesus all the time that if I’m not offending him, allowed me to ask His Mother to be with me and always help me to be close to Him, This is most like a personal devotion.

So - praying to Saints is not mandatory for a Catholic?

Thanks all - lot’s of good info here.:thumbsup:

Well, yes and no.

Do you personally have to cultivate a relationship with any particular saint and ask for their intercession in your private prayer life? No.

Is the Communion of Saints an article of faith which must be assented to? Yes.

We affirm it in the Creed. We pray for the intercession of the saints at every Mass. We invoke them in the Liturgy in numerous ways.

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