Praying for the intercession of the saints is a historic Christian practice that goes back to the earliest days of Christianity. In its most simple form, it is the practice of asking our departed brothers and sisters in Christ to add their prayers to our prayers to God.
For some this seems indirect and clumsy. Why not just go right to God they might ask. Great question, and one should always go directly to God with prayers and intentions. However, at other times we need encouragement, help, support and a friend to go with us when we have a need.
All prayer go straight to God. We do pray for the intercession of the saints to add their prayers to ours as they are our blessed friends and mentors.
The prayer of intercession is based on the Catholic understanding of the Communion of Saints. All who live and all who have gone before are joined with us as members of the body of Christ. Those who have died have not left us behind in terms of their desire to join with us petitioning God for our needs.
St. Paul frequently asks other to pray for him and assures them he is praying for them. If you have ever asked someone to pray for a sick friend, or for you in a time of need, you already understand the power that comes from multiple voices raised in prayer. The saints are among the most important friends we can ask. We are united through Christ to those who have gone before us in faith – the saints. Their time on earth is over but they are still active in relationship with God.
Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.
In this passage from the Book of Revelation, John speaks of the prayers of the saints being offered to God along with incense. The saints, our brothers in sisters in heaven, like our brothers and sisters on earth can bring our needs before God.
*Scripture citation: Revelation 8:3-4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)