How can we BEST explain Mary’s intercession on our behalf to protestants and why we pray to her? I do know some passages that are pretty solid already that could be used for any saint. But I want to really go deeper on why we ask Mary the most with scripture. Doesn’t the basis go back to the Old Testament? If anybody could help thanks Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception pray for us.
We don’t pray to her, we ask her for her prayers. It’s a significant difference.
The book of Hebrews proves that the kingdom of heaven includes the “spirits of just men made perfect”.
The book of Revelation shows us that the prayers of the saints are in heaven. It also shows us Mary in heaven with a crown of 12 stars.
2 Maccabees shows us asking for intercession from those who have passed on. Protestants do not have this book in their bible because Luther took it out.
1 Cor 6 says the saints in heaven are greater than angels.
Luke 1 says all generations will call her blessed and she is full of grace.
I hope this helps
I don’t want to be at odds with Matt, but the truth is that we Catholics do, indeed, pray to the saints, Mary included.
However, for some reason (and I am not sure why), many people confuse the word “pray” with “worship.” It may be that for many, like Protestants, “prayer” is the only formal act of worship they engage in.
In Catholicism, like Judaism, we worship God through liturgical actions, the Mass being the utmost example. We offer ourselves to God in worship by means of it and throughout the day in our service to God and others. “Worship” in this Judeo-Christian form includes prayer, but it also includes offering sacrifices, singing songs, serving the needs of others, meditation and contemplation and more. Praying is just one of the things we offer in worship.
The English word “pray” means “to ask.” In Old English it was common to say things like, “please, pray tell,” a phrase that we don’t use anymore. That phrase is now said as: “I ask you, please tell me.” The word “pray” means to make a request of another.
Just like we might make sacrifices for our children or friends, sing songs to our husband or wife, meditate to find an answer for a problem at work, and contemplate things in our life, “prayer” is also not exclusive to worship. Your asking a question here on this forum is, technically speaking, a prayer. Every time you make a request to another, that’s also a prayer.
But for many Protestants, especially those who belong to non-liturgical churches, they have little but offering prayer to God as formal acts of worship. That is it. So they see our making request of saints as “worship” becuase they are defining “prayer” as something exclusive to worship.
As you know, the “saints” are neither dead nor merely those in Heaven with God. When you make a request of any fellow Chrisitan, you are “praying” to a saint. Saints that we know are in Heaven are “canonized” saints. God has granted these heavenly saints the grace to perform miracles as proof that we can commune with them and lean on them for support. Whether on earth or in Heaven, we always ask our fellow saints to pray to God for us. The “curtain” between Heaven and earth has been torn, the communion of saints is therefore not limited to those we know on earth.
There if a prophecy of prayer to Mary in Psalms 45:12. “The people of Tyre will sue your favor with gifts, the richest of the people with all kinds of wealth.” In context, it’s saying this to a queen who stands by a king. There is good evidence that it is a messianic prophecy about Mary and Jesus.
[SIGN]Just noticed my response was much the same as AndreaDorrie above. Didn’t see it before I posted it. [/SIGN]
First and foremost we refer to the Jewish use of the word prayer and give examples of it being used in the old testament.
I pray you to stay here this night also, that I may know what the Lord will answer me once more.
And the old man went out to them, and said: Do not so, my brethren, do not so wickedly: because this man is come into my lodging, and cease I pray you from this folly.
1 Kings (1 Samuel) 23:22
Go therefore, I pray you, and use all diligence, and curiously inquire, and consider the place where his foot is, and who hath seen him there: for he thinketh of me, that I lie craftily in wait for him.
But man when he shall be dead, and stripped and consumed, I pray you where is he?
Sade. The Lord is just, for I have provoked his mouth to wrath: hear, I pray you, all ye people, and see my sorrow: my virgins, and my young men are gone into captivity.
2 Machabees 9:26
I pray you therefore, and request of you, that remembering favours both public and private, you will every man of you continue to be faithful to me and to my son.
Just a few examples. There we see that to ‘pray’ means to request, to ask. That’s the first misunderstanding that protestants have of this word. They have taken prayer to be a form of worship, and while you can pray in worship, not all prayer is worship. Big difference there.
Then you go to the new testament and see in Revelation that the angels and saints have censers full of incense:
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints; Revelation 5:8
So we see that to pray means to ask, and here we see the elders (Saints) holding bowls full of incense which are the prayers of the saints. That brings about the logical question of “how did they get them?” Did God receive the prayers then turn around hand them to the Saints and ask them to give them back? Or are these the prayers that the Saints received and are bringing before the throne of God?
The final argument that you see the most is “don’t pray to the dead.” Well, we don’t believe that they are dead.
Romans 8:38 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We don’t believe that they are dead, but quite alive… more alive than ever. So we are praying (asking) them to pray for us, even when we ‘pray’ to Mary… we are asking for her intercession. Anything she does in return is not by her own power, her own ability, but by the power of God. That’s quite a bit different than worship. Why do we pray to the Saints? Because the “… prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” James 5:6 Who is more righteous than those who have gone on into heaven? They are the purest of the pure, the most righteous of all humans… who better to pray for us?
Last but not least, we compare it to talking to our mom, our dad, our friends… we ask them to pray for us, not because we can’t speak to God, not because God has not the ability to answer our prayers, but because God has chosen for it to work this way. He reminds us constantly in Sacred Scripture and Tradition to pray for one another without ceasing. So we do. Because he chose it to be that way, who are we then to tell him no?
And let’s not forget that Mary is a Davidic queen. 1 Kings 2 shows that the role of a Davidic queen is to bring the requests of the people to her son, the king.
(It also shows that the king retains the right to decide whether he’ll grant the request – but it clearly shows that intercession is what the queen does, and when she does it, she really does get the ear of the king!)
Your’s is one of the best explanations I’ve heard.
If only Protestants would consider that salvation history is more about Our Lady than anything., Consider after the fall God waited to intercede divinely in her Immaculate Conception as a means to enter into the world/time and redeem it. He was born of Our Lady (Her flesh) lived with her every day for 30 years. Not understanding what it means to be without sin they can’t imagine the close relation she had with God. Jesus wasn’t learning how to be God for 30 years prior to his public ministry but was teaching Our Lady how to be Queen of the Angels & the Saints. The world is closing in on the faithful but in the end Our Lady will fetter satan and his minions in the depths of hell. O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee.
How about Jn 2:5
His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”
We are also servants, and it is appropriate that we listen to Mary.
I was trying to distinguish intercessory prayer from worship
Just wrote about this exact thing a few days ago:
Hope this helps.
God Bless, :signofcross:
Poor Knight for Christ and His Church
It likely won’t be helpful due to Protestants not considering it canon, but in 2 Maccabees 15, Judas Maccabees dreams of the prophet Zechariah granting him a golden sword and promising victory, and this is understood as an intercession from an OT saint.
Also, my wife made a point yesterday as a convert from being a Baptist, is that her family often speaks of her great grandmother “looking down” and “watching out for you.” This language is common amonst many non-Catholic Christians who would deny the Communion of Saints. But that’s just the same thing. So is it a white lie they tell themselves? Or do they not just realize they are referring to the Communion of Saints here?