The first thing to note is that not all prayers are uttered to God, or even to the saints. For example, if Giles Fraser comes on Thought for the Day, telling us what Christ thought about Greek debt, the reaction of millions is to shout at the radio: "Shut up, you clown! Just shut up!" This is clearly a prayer addressed to Giles himself.
Our Fraser, who art always on Radio 4...
Then again, if your car breaks down, you may well pray to it. "Come on! What's wrong with you?" Frankly, this sort of prayer is less likely to work, and your car would benefit from a proper (and not necessarily religious) service.
Right! I warned you!
But let's consider prayers issued in more conventional circumstances. Obviously, some prayers are directed to God, as they should be. "Our Father!" etc. No problem. But then, at least in the Catholic tradition, some are addressed to other members of the congregation: "I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters..." Or, in the Protestant traditions too, "The Lord be with you," then "And also with you" or "And with your spirit". Is this a prayer to God, or just talking about God behind His back?
"It's 'Ite, missa est' from me." ... "And also from him."
Then we come to the vexed question of praying to saints. Catholics like to recite the Hail Mary, pray to guardian angels, and talk to saints. The idea is that these guys may intercede with God, or even perform miracles through delegated divine power. Protestants aren't always too keen on this idea, of course. Brother Bosco of the Calvary Chapel would condemn it all as idolatry, worshipping graven images, etc.
Today being St Blaise's day, this may be a good time to pray for healing of injuries and afflictions of the throat. Luckily, St Blaise is a saint, for a lesser being might say "Look, you've all ignored me for 364 days of the year. Why does everyone have to pester me today?"
A challenge for St Blaise: a giraffe with laryngitis.
Well, one final remark. It may well be OK to pray to saints. However, the next stage of familiarity - holding a séance and summoning them to a darkened room where a load of slightly tipsy dinner-party guests are sitting at a round table holding hands - is OUT. St Blaise may be willing to help with sore throats, but he prefers to remain at a distance, and you will NOT get a better service if you invite him into your home.
"I don't usually do home visits."
So in the next instalment we'll consider what you should say to your chosen prayee.