Okay, all three replies are fine, however, where did this doctrine of "praying to the saints" come from?
Jesus is the sole mediator between God and Man. I feel that praying to the saints (although I agree that they are not worshiped in the EOC), it means communication with the dead, which is prohibited in Scripture.
You are mistaken here. Jesus is not a mediator between God and Man. Jesus is God.
Nobody prohibits you from praying to God directly.
You stated that to us those who have died, appear physically dead. However, to God they are still alive. Therefore, are they truly dead or alive? My interpretation is that they are alive.
We, as mere humans, don't "see" or comprehend even a tenth of what truly is real, alive, and around every minute of our lives....it doesn't mean they aren't there.
Therefore, if they are alive to God, they must be alive and real.
We do not pray or worship the saints, we venerate them. In other words, we show them respect....because they have run the race, crossed the finish line and won. They have suffered as we have, they have been tempted as we are, they had aches and pains, they may have fallen in love, they may have had broken hearts, broken homes, broken families.....they went through what we now go through....and they persevered. They show us that it IS possible for mere humans to achieve sainthood. That even though many of them have been known to have sinned greatly, they repented, were forgiven and achieved greatness in the eyes of their Creator and mankind. This bolsters us and gives us added incentive.
Again, we don't worship...we show respect.
They are our older brothers/sisters.....and we ask them for assistance. We ask that they, on our behalf, petition God. Sure, we can do it ourselves.....we can also pray for ourselves....but, why do we ask others to pray for us? When someone is in the hospital, don't we form prayer circles? Send up countless prayers for their healing? We ask everyone to pray for the sick person?
Are we all not sick in some way? This is why we ask for prayers.....even of the saints. We ask them to pray for us. There's no magic there. They simply add their prayers to those of our friends and families.....and sometimes, God allows miracles to be performed through His saints.
Many relics bring about healing of sickness, blindness, addiction, etc. Is this the bones of a dead person healing a living? No. This is God working through this saint to bring healing to the living.
There are more things in Heaven and Earth than we can imagine.
Glory to God for all things!