All of us have some pre-conceived ideas about others who are different from us. A popular one regarding the Catholics is “they pray to Mary.” I like to explain it this way to my Protestant friends if they asked about the Catholic practice of praying to Mary. I know it is perhaps inadequate, but I am trying to make sense out of it as best as I could. First, we like to ask our friends to pray for us, don’t we. And we do like to pray for our friends as well. It’s what we call as intercessory prayer. We pray on behalf of others. Second, we need to learn the concept of church militant and church triumphant (and church expectant, if you allow the purgatory). Church militant is those Christians who are still living on earth, who still struggles (hence, militans) against sin. On the other hand, church triumphant, to put it simply, is those Christians who are in heaven. You combine both ideas, and I suppose you could imagine that you could communicate to those saints in heaven so that they would pray and intercede on behalf of us. You could add as well our preference to be prayed by our more saintly friends rather than the lesser ones (however subjectively defined), and it would explain the popularity of prayer to the saints (and, most notably, Mary the Mother of God).