(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
When a quarterback throws a pass in a football game, he is obviously trying to get the ball to one of his teammates. It is never his intention for a player on the opposing team to intercept it, but sometimes that is exactly what happens. The quarterback meant well, but the result of his pass ended up benefiting the other team.
Likewise, many well-meaning religious people throw various "prayer passes" in hopes of gaining spiritual assistance. Among these religious people are of course a number of Christians. Some of them have been taught to only "throw the ball" to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These believers pray only to God Himself. Others have been taught that it is acceptable and even beneficial to pray to certain saints in heaven who are thought to be able to intercede on our behalf and grant us assistance.
So what is going on here? What really happens with prayers to the departed that are prayed everyday by religious people all over the world? Simply put, some prayers which are assumed to be prayers of "intercession" are in reality prayers of "interception." That is, these prayers do not reach the intended "receiver." Instead, they are intercepted by fallen angels. One of the many activities of evil spirits is to encourage religious people to pray to "dead" believers. The Bible does not encourage such a thing, but instead warns against it.
"But wait," someone may say. "Believers in heaven are not dead, but alive." True, and thankfully so. Their earthly body died, but their spirit is alive in heaven and will be granted a perfect heavenly body at the end of time. (see 1 Cor. 15:42-53) So yes, they are not really dead. But that doesn't mean they hear our prayers, or provide even the slightest bit of assistance in answer to our prayers, regardless of how noble their lives may have been while on earth.
God doesn't use saints in heaven to bless saints on earth. Instead, God utilizes His holy angels to minister to His children on earth. (see Hebrews 1:14) God would have told us in His Word if He wanted us praying to angels, or praying to believers who have gone before us into heaven. We have a much better mediator, "the man Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5) He is fully God, and fully Man. And He is more than able to hear millions of prayers at the same time from Christians all over the world, and to provide exactly what we need in answer to them.
So should I pray to the Father, or to the Son, or to the Holy Spirit? Actually, yes. Christians can pray to each of them individually, but you can also pray to them together as One. They are three Persons in One God. So just pray to God. And while it's fine to thank Him for the faithfulness of believers who have gone before us, there is simply no good reason to pray to those saints. That sort of thing will only invite "our opponents" in the spiritual realm to come alongside us in our prayers. Those wicked angels are attracted anytime they see that they can "pick off a pass" from one of God's children. They are drawn in anytime religious practices which are contrary to Scripture get carried out by anyone.
Always remember this about religion. Fallen angels want people to carry out religious activities, just so long as those activities don't please the Lord and draw on His power. False religious practices are just as dangerous, if not more so, than living life with no religious practices. The counterfeit activity keeps the person from even thinking about his need for the genuine practice. It would be similar to using counterfeit money, but not knowing the bills are counterfeit. In that situation, why would I try to get genuine bills if I thought the bills I was already using are the real thing? Spiritual counterfeits, like financial counterfeits, always provide a dangerous and false sense of security.
Do some Christians fall prey to unbiblical and unhealthy spiritual practices? Of course. It happens all the time, not only by praying to the departed, but in an assortment of other mystical and magical practices which tend to creep into both Protestant and Catholic traditions. For example, some believers in certain churches have been taught to "sow a seed" of financial giving in order to receive whatever answer to prayer they desire. In essence, rub the bottle and make the genie appear. I don't think so. It's fanaticism, plain and simple. Appealing yes, but beneficial no. Just like prayers to the departed, this practice only draws in the participation of the opposing team in the spiritual realm. The Holy Spirit will never be found in such gimmicks by spiritual leaders, who are actually just religious hucksters.
For whatever reason, praying to the departed is equally appealing to many religious people. It energizes folks who do it. They get drawn deeper and deeper into it. Before they know it, they are hooked. But it was not God who led them to start praying to the departed. God never leads anyone to do such a thing.
If any saint who has gone before us is able to compete even slightly in your heart and mind with your focus on the Lord, then the opposing team has accomplished a victory of sorts on the "playing field" of your soul. One of their biggest goals when it comes to religious people, including Christians, is to tempt us to view something or someone other than God as a means of receiving blessings from heaven. If Jesus is not our "all in all," we will fall for counterfeit methods of being spiritual and attaining grace.
In reality, no one has ever received even a tiny bit of God's grace or blessing by praying to departed saints. Every one of those "prayer passes" has been intercepted by the other team. That doesn't seem to stop many people from calling that same legalistic play over and over again. Such is life in the realm of religious fanaticism whenever Protestants or Catholics take their eyes off Christ alone, and utilize magical methods in hopes of achieving spiritual victories.
Prayers to the departed never reach St. Paul, or St. Augustine, or the mother of our Lord, or the brother of our Lord, or St. Francis of Assisi, or any other saint. All those prayers do is attract fallen angels into the spiritual atmosphere around your soul. Those angels hover over anyone who chooses to pray to the dead. It opens a spiritual door through which those angels enter your space. If you have prayed such prayers, simply talk to the Lord about it and ask Him to close any doors you have opened out of ignorance. And choose to be wise from this day forward by only praying to God, but never again to departed saints.
Remember, there is another team on the spiritual playing field and they have an intense hatred for Jesus Christ, and an equally intense fear of Him. After all, He defeated them at the cross. (see Colossians 2:15) These spiritual forces (evil angels) will try just about anything to convince you to seek blessings through someone other than Christ, or in addition to Christ. They can even increase your spiritual feelings and sensations when you do things that invite their participation. Part of the deception is that it makes you feel like you are connecting with those departed saints. Evil spirits can definitely give you a "spiritual buzz" and a real new age experience. That is one reason to never trust feelings, but only trust Jesus as you rely upon God's objective Word rather than man's subjective emotions.
How does all of this sound to you? Even if you are not yet totally convinced that praying to departed saints is dangerous, would you be willing to stop doing it "just in case" you are wrong? Or are you already hooked on that magical practice? If so, it's time to recognize how this religious addiction only leads to interceptions, but never to God-pleasing intercession.
It's also time to get back to the huddle (God's Word) and call a new play. You have a receiver on your team who will never allow even one of your passes to Him to be intercepted, and His name is Jesus. If I were you, I would call His number every time. That is the safe play for every Christian.
Come to think of it, why would a Christian even think about throwing to another receiver, even if that man or woman did have a prominent role in Christian history? So what? Don't start praying to him or her just because God used that person in a special way. No one, and I mean no one, can provide intercession between you and the Father other than Jesus Christ. Believers have access to the Father only because of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. If you attempt to add or subtract to Christ's work at Calvary, you miss out on eternal salvation. (see Galatians 3:1-14)
If God wanted His children praying to departed saints, He would have certainly told us so in His Word. That is God's love letter to His family. He would not have left out something that important. By not placing it in the Bible, but instead warning believers about trying to communicate with the dead, God has made it clear how He feels about His children praying to the departed.
There are saints, and then there is Jesus. There is intercession, and then there are interceptions. Don't "throw your prayers" where the enemy can pick them off. It is nothing less than spiritual deception to believe that any receiver other than Jesus can actually catch those prayers, and answer them.
Draw near to God with confidence through faith in the blood of Jesus, and resist any temptation you may feel to dabble with a magic formula that involves praying to the departed. While such superstitious prayers will likely increase your spiritual sensations as a result of the presence of fallen angels, it will do nothing to bring you God's grace or blessing. Do not be deceived just because it happens to be a spiritual activity. There are actually a number of religious practices which attempt contact with dead people, and all of them are extremely dangerous to your soul.
Just because an activity is "spiritual" doesn't make it beneficial. If that were the case, every religion would lead to God and to heaven. Those other religions are Christ-less. Only Jesus is priceless. You can place full confidence in this approach to prayer because it comes right out of God's playbook. It's no wonder the angelic dark side has worked so cleverly over the centuries to seduce religious people to offer prayers to created beings rather than praying only to the Creator Himself.