You know when I decided I believed in the intercession of the saints? Believed that the saints in heaven were praying for us and I could ask in prayer for their prayers?
At an evangelical conference.
The news had just come through that one of the pastors was very ill. Immediately, a whole shed-full of pumped-up evangelical students (there were probably about a thousand of us) started praying for this man, for his family and, God willing, for healing.
But I couldn’t pray.
I cried instead.
Worse, I didn’t even want to pray.
From nowhere, this fury welled upside my heart. I was angry. Because really, who bloody well cares? (I may have used stronger language than that but let’s keep it PG, shall we?)
This good pastor knew Jesus, he had a loving family, he could afford the best medical care and he literally had thousands praying for him.
And all I could think about was the thousands upon thousands, the millions upon millions, who had no one to pray for them. What about everyone else in the world, those who were born and lived and died in poverty, oppression and cruelty – and had no one to pray for them?
And that’s when I knew I knew the saints were praying. Praying for those who have no one to pray for them. Praying for the lonely, the lost, the forgotten. Praying for every inch of creation.
They had to be.
If prayer actually works – if it is more than some positive-thinking mantra or psychological crutch for the weak – then how could the saints not pray? How could they see the pain and evil of this world and think, screw it, I’m in heaven so why bother beseeching God?
The intercession of the saints is nothing less than taking the reality that prayer is powerful to its logical conclusion. We don’t pray because it makes us feel better (although it often does), we pray because we need it. It’s the most reasonable thing to do in the world.
The saints in heaven are our brothers and sisters. Of course they are praying. And praying mightily, because the “the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
I have no way of knowing but I like to think that all the saints who we don’t call St So-and-So, the “uncanonised” saints, the ones we forget to ask to pray for stuff, are praying for those who have no one to pray for them.
The forgotten saints praying for the forgotten sinners. Why? Because in God’s providence, no one is forgotten.
Oh My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of Thy mercy.
– A prayer taught by Mary to three Portuguese children in 1917