Parents may want to read this article with their children...
Sometimes it is hard to understand what prayer is, how we should pray to the Saints, and even why we would sometimes want to pray to the Saints, too, and not just to God. It might make it easier to understand if we think of the Saints as being like our friends and relatives in Heaven. When you are especially happy about something, or especially unhappy, or when you are in a difficult situation, you may talk it over with your parents or other relatives, people who love you. This is a "communication in love"; it is like prayer.
Another way you talk to your parents is when you ask them for something. This is like when we pray to God to ask Him for something. Sometimes when you want to ask your parents for something really big, you might ask your aunts and uncles and even your cousins to put in a good word for you. Through their entreaties they might be able to help you express your great desire to your parents. They become intercessors for you. In a way they "pray" to [your parents] to give you the thing you want. The whole situation is a "communication of love."
Of course, sometimes your parents' answer may be "No." "No" is not necessarily a bad answer, as it can be an expression of love and protection. You can see that not all a small child wants to do is good for him; in the same way, your parents can see that not all you want to do is good for you, and so sometimes they have to protect you by saying no. Sometimes they say no out of love because they want what's really best for you. Learning to accept "No" helps you to become patient.
What relatives are on Earth, Saints are in heaven; they love us and entreat God for us when we pray to them. You should make the Saints your friends by learning their lives. After awhile they will become as familiar to you as your relatives and you will learn to seek their help. You might like to ask the Saints to make your prayer stronger and more sincere.
The love you have for your relatives you should also have toward the Saints. Just like you talk things over with your relatives, you can with your favorite Saints. Indeed, you may have noticed that you have talked to God, the Theotokos or the Saint whose name you bear when you were joyful or thankful or, on the other hand, sad and in need of consolation. And you may be aware of their response, and how they set you straight when you make a mistake, and help you and others you pray for. God has given them special graces to assist in the heavenly/earthly communication of love.
You can go to particular Saints for particular needs. When, for instance, a classmate needs help with his lessons, you can pray to St. Sergius of Radonezh or St. John of Kronstadt, because they had trouble learning until they prayed to God for help. When you are worried about someone who is sick, you can pray to SS. Cosmas and Damian, because they were doctors who healed a lot of people through medicine and miracles.
Be sure that God hears all your prayers, regardless of whether they are directed to Him, or to the Mother of God, or to the Saints. When you don't receive what you ask for, God answered your prayer just the same but His answer was "No." God's ways are mysterious and sometimes difficult to understand, but He has already prepared something wonderful for you. Therefore, learn to trust not only your parents' "No" as being good for you, but also God's. Yes, you should talk to God about what you want and how you feel, but you should also learn to pray in the words of our Lord - "Thy will be done." Learn to be patient, faithful, trusting, and above all: to thank God for everything.
Reprinted with permission from Life Transfigured: A Journal of Orthodox Nuns, Vol. 25, No. 1, Pascha 1993, pp.13-14. Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Ellwood City, PA.
© 1998 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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