|Imagine having the opportunity to go on a family vacation and rather than taking your actual family with you, you bring along a picture of them instead. This is what religion is like. Instead of enjoying an ongoing and personal relationship with God, you settle for statues, rituals, and recited prayers to or through saints to replace the actual and personal relationship God wants to have with you.
Then he said to me, “These words are faithful and true.” And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place. “Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.” Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”
While there is some debate about who or what this being is that John fell down to worship, we need to recognize his immediate response to the disciple, “See that you do not do that!” Some say this is an angel and others say angels are not are brethren so this is a glorified human. Either way the redirect was the right response to John’s errant actions, “Worship God.”
1 Timothy 2:5
For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
We don’t need to pray through saints or Mary. We don’t need repetitive words or phrases to communicate to God. There is no human agent who can absolve our sins, because there is only “one Mediator between God and men” and that is Christ Jesus. It is not the Pope, not a priest, not an angel, nor a dead saint. To exalt any of these persons or practices to the place of being what allows us to access or become acceptable to God is nothing more than false religion.
And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Reciting “Hail Marys” or “Our Fathers” are vain repetitions not acts of penance. What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus – not confessing to a priest, not the repeated recitation of phrases or memorized prayers. Think about it, prayer is simply talking to God. We don’t talk to each other in repeated memorized phrases, so why would we talk to God that way? That’s religion, not a relationship.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Supplication means “earnest petition” and notice that Paul says to take those earnest petitions directly to God through prayer. This is one of the great privileges of the Christian faith! Through Jesus we have direct access to the throne room of God. His blood gave us that access and no human action or intermediary is necessary for us to go directly to God with our earnest petitions and prayers.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.
As a child of God we do not have to go through others or take qualifying steps to talk to our Father. We don’t need Mary to pray for us, nor does the Bible imply we should pray to her. We don’t need saints from the past to mediate for us. These are all man-made religious practices. As someone who has received Christ through belief in Him we have all the rights any other child of God has.
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
If you need help from the great and mighty God, you can go directly to Him in prayer and He will answer you and show you great and mighty things you didn’t know. It’s not because you came to Him through the right religious rituals or recitations, but because you are His child and He is your Father. Don’t settle for religious rituals when a personal relationship with God has become a reality through being reconciled to God by the blood of Jesus.
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
Jesus did not come into the world in the likeness of sinful human flesh, die a criminal’s death on a cross after being beaten to the point to where He was barely recognizable as a human, have the beard ripped from His face and a crown of thorns pressed down on His head, get scourged with lashes and mocked by His executioners, all just so He could establish a religion. He endured the cross while despising the shame for the joy of bringing as many as received Him into the personal relationship with God that was severed in the garden when man fell into sin.
This is what the Passion week is all about – man being reconciled to God, not man becoming more religious.
Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.