A Question about Praying to Mary
I regularly answer questions about the faith from believers here, on social media, in person, and by email. They questions tend to repeat and deal with common issues. So I thought I would post some of them here and provide simple answers for those who don’t have a pastor or person to ask directly.
The first deals with a question that I certainly had after years in parochial schools: Can I pray to Mary?
My answer is not meant to denigrate other traditions but to honor Jesus. I hope it blesses you.
Can I pray to Mary?
You can, of course, but should you is the real question. The answer to that is a resounding “No” for a couple of reasons:
1 – A Christian is inadvertently insulting Jesus if they pray to Mary.
That may be hard to swallow but consider that Jesus is God and your Savior. He chose to take on the task of becoming a man and being murdered on the Cross. He calls you to Him and says in John 17 that you should be one with Him like He and the Father are One. He is the go between that joins God and man.
“Come to ME” says Jesus and “I will give you rest”.
The decision to pray to anyone other than Jesus says Jesus is not enough on His own to hear from us. It says Jesus would not answer without help. It is demeaning to Jesus and His role as your Savior. The usual rationale is that Mary as His mother has a special relationship with Jesus that allows her to hold power over Him and get Him to do what she wants. I understand this makes sense when viewed through the lens of flawed human relationships. Yet, I don’t think people realize how demeaning that is to Jesus. It treats Him like a reluctant and limited Shepherd who needs to be convinced to love and care for His sheep. It also makes Him into a bigger versions of the dad who is constantly grumpy and needs to be coerced into loving by sympathetic mom. We become part of a vaguely dysfunctional family of God. This is not the true Savior.
Jesus laid down His life freely. He loves you by His own choice and stands willing and ready to listen to your prayer. He is eager to answer. What does it say when we are not convinced these facts are true?
Prayer is also not a transactional relationship where you use any leverage you have to get your will done. The most important part of prayer is getting your will to align with God’s. This is impossible if you are not speaking to God.
The entire point of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross was to allow you to come boldly to the Throne of Grace, God’s throne, and no longer need an intermediary. This is pictured in the tearing the curtain of the Temple that blocked off the Holy of Holies to regular folks like you and I. On that curtain were symbolic representations of the angels that God put in place outside of Eden to keep Adam and Eve out after their fall. Jesus ripped this open to allow you in directly to God.
Why waste this unbelievable privilege paid for by Jesus’ blood?
2 – Jesus specifically gave us an example of how to pray in the Lord’s prayer.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say: “`Father,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.
What is clearly not present in Jesus’ specific direction on how to pray?
Any mention of Mary or any other saint for that matter?
You cannot get a simpler example from God Himself on how to pray.
3 – Mary was just a woman no greater than any other believer.
Now, you may get upset at that idea if you are certain traditions but it is what Jesus said in Luke 11:
And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”
But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Jesus responds to someone in the crowd trying to separate Mary from any other believer. They try to elevate Mary in status. Jesus not only refuses to glorify His mother but says more blessed are those who hear the God and keep it.
Jesus clearly spoke on the issue.
4 – There is no evidence Mary can hear anything. She is a dead human.
There is only one throne in heaven and Mary is not on it. The great multitudes in heaven and the 24 elders worship and throw their crowns down before God. Mary is nowhere pictured anywhere near the Throne of power. She is not divine in any way. Why would she be able to cross the divide between God and man?
Praying to Mary makes sense to our minds for one simple reason: We don’t fully understand the greatness of Jesus and the love He has for us. If we did, the idea of spending our prayer time on any human, no matter how wonderful, would be seem small and tawdry in comparison. Mary is an awesome woman of faith. She is also nothing compared to Jesus.
Your all powerful, omniscient, perfectly loving, Father calls you to come to Him. He invites you to come boldly to the Throne of God to get mercy and grace. Take Him up on it.
PS – the other justification I hear a lot is the person praying can relate better to Mary as mother or as a woman. This is very understandable given the fallenness of this world, but again that flows from a misunderstanding of Jesus and the Father based on man’s sin rather than who God is. The answer to that is to get to know our gentle and kind Shepherd better. He is more loving and understanding than even your closest girlfriend.