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I have known many Christians to address prayers to Jesus, to Mary, various saints, etc.

What if someone always simply prays to God by calling on His name, God? Or says "Our Father who is in Heaven" as Jesus taught?

Can you see any downside to this?

Will this have any effect on their salvation?

If not, why do so few Christians seem to do this?

closed as off-topic by curiousdannii, fredsbend, Mr. Bultitude, Matt Gutting, El'endia Starman Apr 8 '15 at 19:57

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  • There's nothing wrong with praying to God the Father; but neither (from a Catholic viewpoint) is there anything wrong with requesting others - such as the saints - to pray to Him on your behalf as well. – Matt Gutting Mar 31 '15 at 20:11
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    Mormons teach that we are to pray only to our Heavenly Father. They do not pray to anyone else. – ShemSeger Mar 31 '15 at 20:25
  • What denomination or interpretive framework are you asking about? – Mr. Bultitude Apr 2 '15 at 19:40
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Euan Cameron says, in Interpreting Christian History, page 126-7, the early Church had no cult of saints, but around the time of the persecutions, Christians began to commemorate their martyrs, to inspire their successors and protect their memory. A little later, some Church Fathers decided that the saints must still feel the same concern for the faithful as when they lived, so the saints must be praying for us. Later still, people supposed it was appropriate to pray to the saints in heaven, to call on them as patrons, and ask for favours and protection. Thus it became established practice to pray to saints for intercession. Vivian Green says in A New History of Christianity, p118, there were instances of men beating the saint's image because the saint had not responded to their prayers.

Green also talks about the special reasons for praying to Mary. He says (p117) that St. Bernard declared, “If you fear the Father there is Christ the Mediator. If you fear him, there is the Mother, pure humanity. She will listen to you. The son will listen to her, the Father to him.”

The Protestant position is strongly against praying to saints. Martin Luther believed that the veneration of saints had turned into the worship of semi-divinities who were addressed exclusively for some need, with no reference to Christ. He also objected to the cult of relics to raise money. In Smalcald Articles, he called the invoking of angels and saints, praying to them, keeping fasts and festivals for them, saying masses and offering sacrifices to them, and assigning to them special functions, “idolatory”.

It seems that there is a divide between the position of the Catholic Church (and Orthodox Church) and other Christian denominations. You will be guided by which denomination you belong to.

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There are two different questions embedded in what you ask. Let's cover them separately.

"Praying to" saints, Mary etc., which is done largely by the Catholic and Orthodox denominations and rarely by others, is fundamentally different from praying to God. Strictly they are not asking the saints to grant their prayers, but asking the saints to also pray to God that their prayers might be answered.

Praying to Jesus is entirely different. Jesus is God, according to mainstream Christian theology, which is believed by around 98% of Christians. Therefore we can ask Jesus to grant us what we ask of himself. Praying to Jesus in the same way that we pray to the Father is entirely proper.

Both Jesus and the Father are also completely God, and therefore you strictly lose nothing by choosing to pray exclusively to either one. Most Christians do pray to both, often interchangeably. If you were choosing not to pray to Jesus because you did not believe in him, that would be an entirely different matter.

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