Many of our Christian brothers do not understand why Catholics pray to Mary. Some of them even accuse us of worshiping Mary, which is further from the truth. We worship God and God alone. Many of our Christian brothers are unaware that the first part of the "Hail Mary" prayer actually came from the verses of the Holy Bible. Below is the first part of the prayer and where one can find the biblical verses:
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blest art thou amongst women (Luke 1:28), and blest is the fruit of thy womb Jesus (Luke 1:42).
Now, let us take a closer look at those verses in the Douay Rheims Bible.
Luke 1:28 And the angel come in, and said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
Luke 1:42 And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed are thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
The first part of the "Hail Mary" prayer is biblical. It was taken out from the Holy Bible. The second part of the prayer is an intercession. This intercession is no different than telling a friend or relative to pray for them. When we tell our friends to pray for us, we are essentially asking them to pray to God for us. In the same way, we ask Mary to pray to God for us. The second part of the prayer is (the bold is mine):
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
This intercession is in line with what the Holy Bible teaches:
James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Some of our Christian brothers would also tell us that we should ask people who are alive to pray for us, not people who are already dead. My response to that is this:
Christ already conquered death through the resurrection. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are not dead. They are alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-6). Christians do not lose their identity even after they pass away from this earth. They are still Christians, and Christians who follow Christ are alive, not dead. There is a Heaven and Hell, and Christians who are one with Christ are alive in Heaven. In other words, there are no dead in God's kingdom because God is a God of the Living, not of the dead (Mark 12:27 and Luke 20:38). Sin and Death does not exist in Heaven; therefore, the saints in Heaven are holy and very much alive. Death does not separate us from Christ nor from our Christian brothers in Heaven who are one with Christ (Romans 8:35-39).
Furthermore, the letter of St. James says: "The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." Who on earth is more righteous than the saints who are already in Heaven? Catholics ask Mary to pray for us sinners because Christ (being the perfect son that He is) always listens to His mother.
For example, at the wedding of Cana, Mary went to her son telling Him that there is no more wine for the guests. Jesus' reply was "Why involve me. My hour has not yet come." However, Mary turned to the servants, pointed to her son and said, "Do whatever He tells you." Despite Jesus' reply to His mother, He went ahead and provided more wine for the guests. In Catholic icons, Mary is often depicted as leaning toward her son as in the photo below. Her message to those who ask for her intercession is the same message she gave the servants at the wedding of Cana. She tells us to "do whatever Christ tells us." She tells us to lean on Christ just as she is seen here leaning toward her child Jesus.