As much as possible, we avoid touching the beliefs of different religions. This is to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. But no matter how we try to avoid it, sometimes we need to discuss it for the sake of argument and clarifications.
Prayer is a powerful tool of communicating to God. We have already known this from the previous topics we have posted here. In case you did not catch them, we can click again the following links to know more about prayers and praying to God.
- And Whatsoever We Ask, We Receive of Him
- How to deal God’s Silence?
- Importance of Prayers
- More on Prayers
- The God who Hears
From these topics we conclude that we, as Christians are commanded to pray unceasingly, with all our faith and with all our hearts. But noticed that praying is only due to God. There is no verse in the Bible that tells us we can pray to any dead person except God.
There are many verses in the Bible that pertains to praying not to anyone else but only to God alone. There is not a single verse that allows us to pray to anyone besides God. All prayers, praises and thanksgiving are due to God alone.
Luk 6:12 And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. This verse is showing us an example of praying to God. Jesus taught us to pray to the Father who is in heaven after this manner. Mat 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Mat 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Jesus did not teach us to pray to the dead people but to the Father alone.
Apostle Paul prays to God alone also as was written in his second letter to the Corinthians. 2Co 13:7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. Did Paul teach the Christians to pray to the dead?
Apostle Paul indeed prayed for other people. This act of prayer is called an intercession. Intercession is an act of praying in behalf of the other people. Rom 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. And we noticed, that Paul emphasized again that prayers are due to God alone.
All the reasonings of other faiths are mere speculations and somehow misinterpretations of the Bible verses. We will try to look at some of the verses they try to use to justify their claims that praying to the dead people are allowed.
Praying to the Dead or Saints as they call it
It has been a practice of many so called Christians to pray to their departed or dead brothers and sisters. They call them saints. They ask for help for those dead people to mediate between them and to God. This practice is shared commonly by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Christians and some Anglicans. Probably they comprise of approximately 75 percent of the Christians of the world.
The verse they use to justify their claim
Before we study the verse they use to justify their claim that it is okay to pray to the dead, we must first try to understand their claim that when a person dies he will either go to heaven, hell or purgatory. These beliefs are a very old belief by these so called Christians, handed down from generation to generation.
The claim that when a person dies will go directly to heaven, hell or purgatory do not conform to what the Bible says. The Bible says that when a person dies, he will sleep for a very long time until the appointed time of resurrection.
Let’s try to look on Job’s explanations about dead people:
Job 14:10 But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?
Job 14:11 As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:
Job 14:12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
These are very clear verses that talk about dead people. Dead people don’t rise up. They sleep in the graves until the heavens that we see will no longer be seen. They will not wake up until they are raised up from their sleep.
There are many connecting verses that supports this claim of the Bible. In Ecclesiastes 9: 5-6, 10, Solomon mentions that death will come to each of us, and while we live we must do everything in our power to do what is just in the eyes of God, because when we die, we no longer have memories about our lives here on earth, even love and hate are no more.
Ecc 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
Ecc 9:6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
Ecc 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Job mentions that there is indeed an appointed time of waking up. There is an appointed time that the dead people will rise up and a change will come to them. Job 14:14 If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
Apostle Paul explains this in his letter to the Thessalonian. In his explanation, the resurrection occurs when Christ will return again on earth to raise first all who had died for Christ. This is the first resurrection mentioned in the Bible. It will happen on the next coming of Christ here on earth.
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
The change that Job tells us is the same with the change of body explained by Paul to Corinthians. He explains that this physical body must be changed in order to be worthy of receiving the price of salvation, that is, entering the kingdom of God in heaven.
1Co 15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Co 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1Co 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1Co 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
One of the verses they use to explain and justify their claim of praying to the dead or saints can be found in Revelation 5: 8 - And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
Here, they depict this verse that the saints in heaven are offering prayers to God under the form of golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Thus, they conclude, that since the saints in heaven are offering their prayers to God, they (the saints) are aware of the prayers of the living ones. They are aware of the petitions and they believe that these saints in heaven are interceding in behalf of them.
Looking at the verse, there is no indication that the saints mentioned are the dead people who went to heaven after they died. It is much logical to explain that these prayers of the saints are the prayers of the saints still living on earth. Prayers of the saints (living) are described in such manner as incense does when it is offered in worship; in a manner of which the ascending of incense is a suitable emblem.
Psa 141:2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Notice again that prayers comes from those who are still living here on earth and not those who are already dead. It is not even mentioned that the saints they use to call in the verse is capable of knowing their prayers. This is a clear presumption and they are assuming that the saints are definitely aware of their prayers especially when they are directed to them. They really believe that these saints intercedes for the living.
Next time we pray, pray directly to God as Jesus taught us in the so called “The Lord’s Prayer.” Yes, we believe that intercessory prayers are powerful too, only if the intercessors are the living and not the dead ones.