I am cradle Orthodox, so I guess I should be knowing the answer to something as basic as this; I guess I didn't attend enough church school. I know intercession prayer to departed Saints is biblical and have always done that. I have never thought about it from a legalistic perspective. In a recent conversation with some protestant friends some questions have come up in my mind, to which I don't have good answers. So it would be great if someone on here can help me answer these questions. My questions are:
Can the departed Saints, know what is in my heart? Or can they only listen to what I am explicitly asking their intercession for? For example: If I ask the intercession of St. Ephraim the Syrian for healing from a disease; then St. Ephriam knows that I have this disease. But will he know that I am going thru financial troubles also if I didnt say anything about financial troubles in my intercession prayer to St. Ephraim. Or is the ability to know the heart of another person just reserved for God?
Can we pray / converse with only departed Saints who are in Paradise? Or can a conversation be had with a departed soul in hades too ?
I think the reason our prayers are answered by Saints is so we can grow in our faith. In that case if something is not being prayed for, then there would be no reason for a saint to help, although I do believe they know what's in our hearts. Discernment is a charism that's given to most believers, even while they're still alive.
I have a problem though with saints being in Paradise, since many seem to be still alive and kind of in between this world and heaven. I know that the first forty days after someone dies, they remain on earth, could this also be with saints? I say this because an Evangelical insisted on a forum that when someone is dead they are dead...and yet, I know people who have seen and spoken to saints.
I know that the RCC Saint Therese of Liseaux asked God not to take her to heaven yet because she wants to help people on earth. I know that Saint Dionysius of Zakynthos roams the earth, and each year as proof of this phenomenon, his shoes are worn out when his coffin is opened. Also knocking can be heard at Saint Nektarios' tomb when one prays and I know of cases of where he appeared physically to people.
Could this desire on the part of some saints not to be taken to heaven, be the reason so many miracles occur through their intercession and not through the intercession of other glorified saints? In that case then, the Evangelical that insisted that when a person is dead they are dead would be right, since these saints are not really dead.
I think it's best not to discard what other Christians believe and say, and instead to look for truths within their beliefs. I'm saying this especially for Protestants, who somehow like to discard so much of what God is revealing with His saints, but it can also be said for us Orthodox in regard to other Christian faiths.