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Why do some people pray to Mary instead of to God?

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Why do some people pray to Mary instead of to God?


Steve Answers:

I think the main reason some people pray to Mary instead of to God is that they hope to improve their chances of getting something they want. I understand that desire, don’t you? But to me it doesn’t make any sense to ask Mary for it. I don’t think Mary is in heaven, so praying to her isn’t something I consider doing. But others do.

They think that when a person dies, they go directly to heaven or to hell (or purgatory until things get figured out). None of this matches my understanding of what the Bible says. It also results in a distorted picture of God. Let me explain.
 
According to Ecclesiastes 9:5: “The living at least know they will die, but the dead know nothing” (NLT).* I don’t think Mary knows anything right now, because she died a long time ago.
 
According to 1 Corinthians 15:22, 23: “Everyone dies because all of us are related to Adam, the first man. But all who are related to Christ, the other man, will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised first; then when Christ comes back, all his people will be raised” (NLT).
I think those verses say that it isn’t any use to pray to Mary. So I don’t see any value in praying to Mary anymore than praying to a wall or a box, which sounds kind of pagan to me.
 
You can check out a Catholic answer to your question at www.catholicdoors.com/faq/qu67.htm. This Web site specifies that Catholics don’t pray to Mary, they pray to Jesus through Mary.
 
The difference is that if they were to pray to Mary, it would be inappropriate, since that would be worshiping her as if she were a god. They acknowledge that Mary wasn’t a god, but they refer to her as the greatest of all saints who’ve ever lived, because she was Jesus’ mother, and the Bible says God favored (blessed) her (Luke 1:30).
 
They explain that Jesus is who they pray to, because Jesus is God. (I’m with them on this.) The reason they pray through Mary is, she is an intercessor who prays to God on our behalf. (I lose it here!)
 
This triggers me to look up Hebrews 4:14-16, which reads: “We have a great High Priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God. Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it” (NLT). This seems to be all about Jesus, not about Mary.
 
Or how about Romans 8:26? It says: “The Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words” (NLT). There’s no mention of Mary there. The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead, so we have God’s direct involvement in our prayers. There’s no need for a special favor from Mary.
 
From a human perspective, the thought of being God and handling all of our prayers can certainly be overwhelming. If you saw the movie Bruce Almighty, you caught a quick visual of that with Post-it notes. Humans know what it’s like to be overwhelmed. Ask adults about receiving too many e-mails, or ask teens about getting too many text messages.
 
Getting attention
 
Most teens with two parents know which parent to hit up when they want something. For example, if you need cash, which parent do you ask? If you want permission to stay out later than usual, whom do you ask? If you need help with a school assignment, which parent do you turn to? If you need someone to drive you somewhere, whom do you ask?
 
The stereotype is that dads are the authority figures and disciplinarians, while moms are the “love bugs” who provide lots of nurturing. If you want your dad’s attention and you can’t get it, perhaps if you go to your mom, she might be able to get your dad’s attention for you!
 
Carry this concept over to our prayers and your question about praying to Mary. If you aren’t getting what you want, you might think that Jesus is too busy, or that He doesn’t want to give you what you’re requesting, or that maybe He’ll get to it later. By praying through Mary, you may think she’s able to cut in on Jesus and sweet-talk Him into giving you what you want. But God isn’t limited like we are; we don’t overwhelm Him with our prayers.
 
Jesus gave these instructions:  “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7, NLT).
 
A few verses later in that same chapter Jesus gave the example of parents giving their children good things. He pointed out that they don’t give their children rocks to eat when they ask for food, or a snake when they ask for a fish! He said: “If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him” (verse 11, NLT).
 
If Mary were going to heaven when she died, why didn’t Jesus say something like this: “Pray to your Father in heaven, and good luck getting an answer. You probably won’t hear back from God until my mama gets there and gets His attention.”
 
Jesus provided these instructions about prayer just before He gave us the Lord’s Prayer: “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered only by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” (Matthew 6:7, 8, NLT). It doesn’t sound like God needs Mary’s input at all.
 
Why do people pray to Mary? I think it’s to get what they want. In the process, they overlook two things: God has been waiting all along to hear from them, and Mary isn’t even in heaven yet to pass along the message.
 
When you pray to God, I’d say to go direct.
 
*Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.


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