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Perhaps the idea of praying to Mary had its roots in the account of Jesus' first miracle (turning water into wine) at the marriage feast at Cana, as recounted in John 2:1-12. The feast was attended by both Jesus and His mother Mary, as well as by Jesus' disciples to that point. When the host of the feast ran out of wine for the guests (which would have been a source of great embarrassment to the host), Mary told Jesus about it (seemingly in the expectation or belief that He could do something -- apparently including something miraculous if necessary -- to address the situation). Jesus' response to her (John 2:4) seemed to indicate His belief that the time for Him to perform such public signs of His divinity had not yet arrived. However, Mary told the servants to do whatever Jesus said, whereupon Jesus directed the servants to fill six large ceremonial jugs with water, and then to draw some of the water off and take it to the host of the feast. When the host tasted the water, it had been turned into fine wine. This episode possibly gave rise to the beilef that it would be more effective to pray to the glorified Mary than to Jesus, so that Mary would be able to persuade Jesus to grant the prayer's request, even if Jesus Himself was reluctant to do so. Also, perhaps it was regarded as a sign of greater humility on the part of the petitioner to pray to Jesus' mother, rather than to Jesus Himself as God incarnate. However, such a belief runs directly counter to Jesus' instruction to His disciples (also found in John's gospel) to make their requests to God the Father in HIS name (John 14:13, 16:23). In addition, Paul made clear in 1 Timothy 2:5 that there is only one mediator or "go-between" between humans and God, and that is the Man Christ Jesus. Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews exhorted Christians to go boldly to God's throne to present their requests directly to Him (Hebrews 4:16). In light of such passages, prayer to (or through) Mary or other individuals (such as those regarded as saints) is not necessary, and (in my view) actually detracts from faith in Christ and our devotion to Him, since it draws our focus and attention away from Him (who alone is both truly God and truly human).
Roman Catholics state that they do not worship Mary but rather venerate her. A definition of “venerate” is “to regard with respect or reverence.” Nowhere in the Bible are we told to revere anyone but God alone. This is a different level and type of respect given to the patriarchs apostles and many other notable men and women in scripture who have died and are now in Gods presence. Prayer is an act of worship, so praying to a saint or Mary is worship. Catholics are taught they can ask saints or Mary to pray for them. According to the Roman Catholic Church, asking saints in heaven for their prayers is no different from asking someone here on earth to pray for us. Despite official Catholic claims, it’s hard to see how the words of the Memorare, a famous Catholic prayer, are not a direct petition to Mary: “Remember, most loving Virgin Mary, never was it heard that anyone who turned to you for help was left unaided.... I run to your protection for you are my mother.” The same can be said for the words of another traditional Catholic prayer, “Hail, Holy Queen”: “Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy, hail, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To you we cry, the children of Eve; to you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this land of exile. Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us; lead us home at last.” (from A Book of Prayers, 1982, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc.) In practice, many Catholics diverge from official Roman Catholic teaching on prayer. Many Catholics do, in fact, pray directly to saints and/or Mary, as seen in the above prayers. Even in cases in which Mary or a saint is simply being asked to pray, the practice has no biblical basis. The Bible nowhere instructs believers in Christ to pray to anyone other than God. The Bible nowhere encourages, or even mentions, believers asking individuals in heaven for their prayers Catholics believe that a saint, who is in God’s presence, has more “direct access” to God than we do from our earthly vantage point. In Catholic thinking, if a saint delivers a prayer to God, it is more effective than our praying to God directly. This concept is unbiblical. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we, believers here on earth, have direct access to God and can “approach the throne of grace with confidence.” “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). There is no one else who can mediate with God for us. Since Jesus is the only mediator, Mary and the saints cannot be mediators. Further, Christ is our mediator: “He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:25). With Jesus Himself interceding for us, why would we need Mary or the saints to intercede for us? Romans 8:26–27 says the Holy Spirit is also interceding for us. With the second and third Persons of the Trinity already interceding for us before the Father, why would we need to have Mary or the saints interceding for us? Scripture clearly states that prayer offered in faith and according to His will is heard.
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