Question from a user of OpenTheBible.org:
“I grew up Catholic, praying the rosary, especially the Hail Mary. But the 10 Commandments clearly state, ‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ So why do Catholics pray to Mary? Or to other saints? Should we refrain from doing that?”
The simple answer to your question is “Yes, you should refrain from praying to Mary and to the saints.”
Catholics pray to Mary (or to the saints) because, like the rest of us, they recognize their need for someone to help them bring their requests to a holy God. I think we all have some sense that we cannot stand in the presence of God on our own.
The Bible says, For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus… (1 Timothy 2:5). God’s Word tells us that Jesus Christ is the help we need – He is our “mediator” or go between with God. But we are never told in God’s Word that any other person, including Mary, or any of the saints, can serve as a mediator between us and God.
One of the reasons Catholics pray this way is that Roman Catholic teaching has elevated the teachings of certain leaders (including the pope’s) to have equal authority with the Word of God. So when a pope (some of whom were ungodly, especially in the Middle Ages) declared that the people could find help in prayer by praying to Mary or to the saints, it became part of Catholic dogma (or the teaching of the Catholic church), and these kinds of errors have been perpetuated over the centuries.
Whenever you place something alongside God’s Word as it’s equal, it always ends up becoming more prominent. So, in many Catholic circles, the teaching of the church has essentially eclipsed the teaching of the Bible, so that many Catholics know the teaching of the church (including praying to Mary and the saints) much better than they know the teaching of the Bible. This is unfortunate and sad, and it leads to many errors like this.
The good news is that we don’t need to pray to Mary or to the saints in order to be heard by God. Jesus made this wonderful promise: “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:3). That means as a Christian believer you can pray with great confidence, knowing that your prayers will be heard by God and answered! You have Jesus’ promise.
May you pray to the Lord with great confidence, joy, and effectiveness,