Need a Saint to Pray for You? Ask St. Polycarp!

St. Polycarp, from the rectory of St. Stephen’s, Creative Commons

“Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong.”

St. Polycarp of Smyrna

One day at work, I was lamenting to one of my superiors about the trouble I had finding a decent parking spot (Just a warning: if you ask me, “How are you?” I’m going to tell you, even if it’s not fabulous news.). Seeing how flustered I was, he suggested, “Next time, why don’t you pray to St. Polycarp?”

“Saint Polycarp?” I responded, confused. “Shouldn’t I pray to St. Anthony?”

“No, no, no, pray to Polycarp. Anthony is too busy up there. Polycarp isn’t doing anything because no one asks him!”

Since then, when I need something, such as a parking spot, I ask St. Polycarp. And though that conversation was meant as a bit of innocent Catholic humor, I don’t think this executive really expected it to lead to my friendship with St. Polycarp, the early Church Father who was friends with the Beloved Apostle, St. John.

St. Polycarp is an excellent friend to enlist for specific needs throughout the day, but I like to call on him for the big stuff – the fires in my life. When he was being martyred, his executioners unsuccessfully tried to burn him at the stake. Though flames raged around him, he was not burned. He was then stabbed to death, and according to witness accounts, the blood that poured out of his body extinguished the fire beneath him.

When we pray for the intercession of the saints, it isn’t always a quick fix. Praying to St. Polycarp for a parking spot at the front of the lot doesn’t mean you’re going to get it. However, praying for the intercession of the saints often leads us to change our outlook on a situation. Whereas we might have desired only one outcome, we can now suddenly be at peace with another. In the case of Polycarp, his brutal martyrdom was not the end of the road but his entrance into eternal Paradise. And as a faithful Christian, he knew it was a happy ending too.

Don’t be afraid to go to the saints with your dire, urgent, or seemingly impossible needs. They know of God’s goodness and can help us increase our faith and hope for a fruitful outcome!

Let us pray:

O Holy St. Polycarp, disciple of St. John the Apostle,
you were faithful to the gospel your entire life,
even in the face of a brutal death.
Since you know so well the glories and goodness of God,
and since you have a reputation for
literally putting out fires,
I ask you to assist me in my need (state your need).
Help me also to grow in friendship with the saints, as you did,
so that together we may all enjoy eternal Paradise
with Christ Our Lord. Amen.

And a shorter prayer you can memorize and pray often:

St. Polycarp, help me to put out the fires that ravage my life. Amen.

This article is excerpted from “The Prayer Book for Tired Parents: Practical Ways to Grow in Love of God and Get Your Family to Heaven” (c) 2022 David and Debbie Cowden. Please only reproduce with permission.

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