To answer the questions above, it is required to set the basis for the discussion and explanation needed for Sally. Most people struggle to understand spiritual principles due to its abstraction, after all it demands people to believe without having seen because it is a matter of Faith (Trust) as it says in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”. Even when we were created as spiritual beings (“then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” – Genesis 2:7) we operate in a physical world that is less abstract and easier to understand because we can rely on our senses (i.e.: Sight).
Since the Bible is both a spiritual and historical book, it is convenient to objectively explain certain spiritual aspects of faith through historical facts, because it is something people cannot debate or deny due to the evidence left behind. I do not consider myself a “Christian Apologetics” practitioner, but history exists to learn from it.
The central character of the Bible is God and his Son Jesus The Messiah. How do we know Jesus was real (and still is because rose from the dead)? Well, He is the only human being important enough to have split history in two (BC and AD). There is not any other historical character who could have done the same (this applies to Buddha, Muhammad and other religious figures including Mary and the saints). Another interesting fact is that religions who believe and acknowledge existence of Jesus comprise up to 54.6% of world’s religious populations. It is true that only Christians believe Jesus is Son of God and promised Messiah. One of the passages in the bible that talks to this can be found in Matthew 1:20-22 (ESV) “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet”.
Now that we have already exposed some historical facts supported by scripture about Jesus, we can present some historical facts about Mary. It is not secret that in various civilisations throughout history people have worshipped a “motherly” figure. A good example of this is Isis nursing Horus in ancient Egypt (mom plus baby image). To understand better how the cult to Mary came to pass, we must remember how Catholic church was established and legalised by Emperor Constantine I in year 313 hence primitive church and paganism rites were combined into a legal organisation endorsed by the Emperor.
Having summarized the origins of the cult to Mary we can reference scripture to provide clarity and guidance to answer this question, why practicing Christians do not pray to Mary or the saints?
- There is only one intercessor between God and humans and that is Jesus – “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time” – 1 Timothy 2:5-6 (ESV).
- Jesus himself prayed to the Father – “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God” – John 16:23-27 (ESV).
- God is a jealous God – “for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God“– Exodus 34:14
- God is the only one worthy of worship and praise – “Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan’ For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” – Matthew 4:10 (ESV)
- Catholics refer to Mary as “Queen of Heaven” because she is the mom of Jesus, but in the past Israelites also worshipped an Assyrian and Babylonian false goddess called Ishtar (Easter the public holiday comes from this name, actually) also called “Ashtoreth”. The prophet Jeremiah warns against this practice as it appears in Jeremiah 7:18 (ESV) – “The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven. And they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger”.
Asking Mary or the saints is not biblical, because there is not a single passage in scripture that supports this. There is one who is interceding for us at all times and this is Jesus “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” – 1 John 2:1 (ESV). Jesus can do this because He is God “I and the Father are one” – John 10:30 (ESV). Jesus knew He was going to ascend to Heaven, hence He promised to send another advocate (parakleton in Greek), the Holy Spirit (Ruach ha’Kodesh in Hebrew) as mentioned in John 14:16 (CJB) “and I will ask the Father, and he will give you another comforting Counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever.” Because Jesus when He was on earth could not always be everywhere due to his human nature, but the Spirit of God can.
Since Jesus is God and He is in Heaven, He also shares the same attributes as the Father (i.e.: Omniscient, omnipresent, etc.) unlike Mary and the saint who are in heaven with glorified bodies (“Who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” – 1 Corinthians 15:42-44) but do not share attributes of the Father hence cannot intercede for billions of people on this world.
Every believer is a member of the body of Christ, or in other words His church. The apostles Timothy “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” – 1 Timothy 2:1 (ESV) and Paul “for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” – Philippians 1:19 (ESV) to mention a couple urged congregations to pray for them and the church.
Thus, believers pray to the Father in the name of Jesus with the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit.