In the same manner that I wrote my last post about possible Mormon criticisms of the use of holy icons, I am writing a post regarding the Orthodox practice of asking saints to pray for them. Orthodox Christians do ask long-dead saints to pray (or intercede) for them – for strength, comfort, and asking God to grant them forgiveness. Is this wrong, blasphemous, or “missing the mark?”
I do know that Mormons often ask each other for prayers. Sometimes Mormons will stand up in testimony meeting and ask for the prayers of the congregation – for comfort, strength, or a miracle on their behalf. Is there an expectation that God responds to multiple prayers more faithfully than one prayer? Certainly not. It is merely a way for a Mormon to gain comfort and strength by joining together as a faithful body with other Latter-day Saints – and to show love for a person who is in distress.
In LDS temples, faithful members will write down the names of people they love who may be going through hardships, and there are prayers said over the names. Do Mormons think that these temple prayers are “magic spells” that ensure greater attention from God? Again, certainly not. Rather, Mormons submit names to the temple prayers in order to show that they care about the people they love, and to sanctify their prayers by having them said in a special, sacred place.
The Orthodox Christians that I have observed do not see prayers to saints any differently. The only difference is that the saint happens to have passed on in death – but to the Orthodox, the saints are still very much alive in Christ, and the Church is saved as a body of believers (not as a bunch of individuals). So the Orthodox practice of asking saints for prayers is really not that different from the Mormon practice of asking friends, fellow members, and even temple workers to pray for themselves or their loved ones. It is a way of joining together in faithfulness and love with the Body of Christ as they all work together and strive toward Heaven. The only main difference I see is that you will not hear a Mormon ask someone to pray for their own forgiveness before God. However, since forgiveness is a miracle bestowed on us by God, I don’t see much difference in asking someone to pray for a miracle, and asking someone to pray for God’s forgiveness.