“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)
The Bible commands that when we pray, we pray to the Father through Jesus. He is our perfect intercessor, our advocate with the Father. However, many people over the centuries and in the present day pray and have prayed to Saints. The underlying theory was that it was easier to pray to saints than to God. God the Father was seen as difficult to reach, a stern judge who demanded absolute obedience before He would hear our requests, let alone answer them. Saints, especially Mary the Mother of Jesus,
were easier to reach, were more loving, and could soften the Father’s heart. Mary in particular could always persuade her son to grant requests because she was His Mother and He had to listen to her. This same approach to prayer is quite popular today and has expanded to include prayers to angels as well as deceased loved ones who are presumed to be in heaven.
This practice of praying to such saintly intercessors, while it can be comforting, is not valid. True comfort and peace come from prayers offered to our one and only Intercessor, Jesus Himself. No one is more loving and kind then He for He took our sins on Himself in His death so we may enjoy eternal unity peace with Him.
We see this love manifested here in His farewell to His disciples. Jesus presented His final words as a prayer. He asked for the Father to fill His disciples with courage and faith for they were about to be sorely tested primarily because of the His crucifixion but also in the long term due to persecution. He prayed also for all who would believe in Him because of the message of the disciples, which includes us. He prayed that we might share the unity He has with the Father. This unity is one we share with all
believers only through Christ our Lord.
Jesus still intercedes for us with the Father. We pray to Him and Him alone for help and faith for ourselves, our families, or neighbors and co-workers. As we persevere in our faith in Jesus we do so because of our union with Christ. This is because as High Priest Jesus offered not just a prayer. Like the priests in the Temple he offered a sacrifice that would make possible unity with God, the unity He had prayed for. His sacrifice was the ultimate atonement, the one that the Old Covenant sacrifices prefigured. The sacrifice was His body. His blood, not the blood of bulls or goats, would be poured out and sprinkled on the mercy seat for the sins of all mankind. This sacrifice would be performed once for all time. Every time we partake of communion we share in its eternal blessings.