The Catholic Church has always taught its members to ask for the intercession of the saints. Just as one Christian would ask another Christian to pray for him, we also ask the saints to pray for us. The saints cannot do miracles of any kind, nor do they have any special power now that they are in Heaven. One thing that they do have, that we do not, is everlasting life. They are already in eternity with God. They are in full communion with Jesus.
One great reason for why we ask the saints for their intercession can be found in Matthew. Matthew 9:27-30 tells of two blind men who ask Jesus to heal them. Jesus touches their eyes and says that they will be healed according to their faith. Matthew 8:5-13 tells of a centurion who asks Jesus to heal his paralyzed and suffering servant. Jesus’ response is that it will be done as the centurion has believed. In both cases, Jesus has answered their prayers according to their faith. I bring this up because it shows us how we must have faith when we pray to God, because He will answer our prayers according to our faith. We must know and believe that He will hear and answer our prayers. It is a big struggle to pray for something and not have any doubt that God will take care of it. Often times, we find it hard to ask God for things that we think are impossible. If God were to say to me, let it be done according to your faith, hardly anything would be done! Today, it is so hard to imagine God healing someone as easily as He did those blind men. However, He is no less capable of it now than He was 2000 years ago. So the problem must be that our faith is weaker. This is why we ask the saints to offer up our prayers as well, because when they bring their prayers for us to God, we want Jesus to say let it be done according to their faith. The saints, who are already with Jesus in Heaven, have much greater faith than any of us on earth. Therefore, when they lift up our petitions to Jesus, surely He will answer their faithful prayers.
While we know that Jesus Christ is the One Mediator, we also know that Christians are encouraged to pray for each other (1 Timothy 2:1-4). We should be asking other Christians to pray for us. This includes the Christians who are already in Heaven. Often times, when I tell this to a Protestant, the immediate response is, “But they’re dead!” Of course the saints are dead and have gone to Heaven; however, being in Heaven means that they have eternal life. They are fully in Jesus’ presence, and He is Life itself (John 14:6). Therefore, I think we can say that the Christians in Heaven are far more alive than we are here on earth.
In Revelation 5:8, John depicts the saints as offering prayers and petitions to God for the people in strife on earth. The only way they could do this is if they were aware of our prayers and could hear our plees. Otherwise they wouldn’t know what prayers to offer to God.
I have also heard the argument that Heaven is eternal happiness, and if the saints could see what’s happening on earth, that would make them sad. We must remember that Heaven is not limited by time the way we are. Good always overcomes evil, so the saints know that the outcome of our time on earth will be good, and they are able to see how that makes our present suffering worth while. That must make them joyful!
One of my Protestant friends who likes to make jabs at me about the saints told me one day that I should really try praying directly to God…. Of course Catholics pray directly to God! It had never occurred to me before that some Protestants are under the impression that Catholics pray only to saints. The Catholic church teaches explicitly that it is absolutely essential to develop a personal relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Who better to ask for assistance in developing this relationship with God and to model our lives after than Jesus, Mary and all the saints who are already in perfect union with Him?