Where Does the Bible Say We Should Pray to Dead Saints?

by Steve Ray on July 11, 2013

Are saints who have physically died “dead saints” or are they alive with God?

A friend named Leonard Alt got tired of being hammered by anti-Catholic Fundamentalists on this issue so he decided to write this article. I thought you might enjoy it too, so here it goes…

Leonard writes: I wrote this note after several days of frustration with people, on Facebook, saying that saints can’t do  anything, because they are dead.  They seem to be leaving out the fact that the souls live on.  ENJOY! 

Dead and gone? Where is his soul-his person?

An antagonist named Warren Ritz asked, “Who are the “dead in Christ”, if not those who walked with our Lord, but who are now no   longer among the living?” He is correct; the “dead in Christ” are those saints  who have physically died.    “For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thess 4:16). 

THE CONCEPT OF LIVING SAINTS CAN DO HARM TO THE “JESUS ALONE” DOCTRINE.  From some people’s point of view, people who have died are classified as “dead saints,” who can do nothing.  They are no longer a force to reckon with; they can no longer appear; they cannot talk nor do other things.  These same people don’t want the saints who have died doing anything because this would be another reason why the Protestant doctrine, “JESUS ALONE” fails.  If the so-called “dead saints” do anything then it is not “JESUS ALONE,” but Jesus and the saints cooperating.    And it would also mean that the so-called “dead saints” are in fact not dead, but alive with God.    

Dead or in paradise?

HIS PHYSICAL BODY DIED BUT HIS SOUL LIVED ON.  But, are the Saints who have gone before us alive with God or are they truly “dead saints” who can do nothing as some would suggest?    Yes, their bodies are dead, but their souls live on.  For example Jesus said to one of the criminals on the cross next to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk 23:43).   Yes, that day, this man became the dead in Christ because his physical body died on his cross; however, Jesus said that today, this man would be with Him in paradise.   He was no “dead saint” because his soul was alive in Christ in Paradise. 

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob alive and concerned for their descendants

HE IS THE GOD OF THE LIVING.  One person alluded to Mark 12:26-27 saying “Jesus is the God of the living, not of the dead” in an attempt to show that Jesus cannot be the god of those who have died; after all he says “Jesus is the god of the living.”  However, he left out three people who were no longer alive in verse 26; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  God said that He was their God.   And so does that mean that God is the God of the dead?  No; “He is not God of the dead but of the living.”  

  • “God told him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, (the) God of Isaac, and (the) God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled” (Mk 12: 26-27). 

Abraham Isaac and Jacob are physically dead and yet their souls are alive because their God is not God of the dead but of the living and thus do not qualify as “dead saints.” 

Moses was dead and buried. How could he talk to Jesus about future events on earth?

WHEN MOSES AND ELIJAH APPEARED WERE THEY DEAD OR ALIVE?  There are those who insist that saints who have died are nothing more than “dead saints” who can do nothing.   I usually ask them this question.   When Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, were they dead or alive?   “And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah” (Lk 9:30).  Not bad for a couple of so-called “dead saints;” not only did they appear, but they were talking as well.  The question that I asked usually goes unanswered.   

SORRY LEONARD…YOU HAVE A BAD ARGUMENT.  Bill says, “As Ecclesiastes says the dead have nothing more to do under the sun…sorry Leonard…you have a bad argument.”  He is using this as definitive Biblical proof that people on the other side cannot do anything once they have died.  After all, Ecclesiastes does say, “For them, love and hatred and rivalry have long since perished. They [the dead] will never again have part in anything that is done under the sun” (Eccles 9:6).    

When a person dies their body is in the grave; it is dead. They can no longer work under the sun, in this world.  However, Ecclesiastes 9:6 is not a prohibition against the activity of the person’s soul, which lives on.   This of course begs the question; is there any indication of personal activity of a soul after death, in Scripture?   

How did the bones of a dead guy bring another dead guy back to life?

Yes, there are a number of examples and here is one of them.  Elisha after dying performed marvelous deeds.  In life he [Elisha] performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds (Sir 48:14).  “Elisha died and was buried. At the time, bands of Moabites used to raid the land each year. Once some people were burying a man, when suddenly they spied such a raiding band. So they cast the dead man into the grave of Elisha, and everyone went off.  But when the man came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet” (Kings 13:20-21).  

Using, Ecclesiastes 9:6 as a prohibition against all soul activity after death is to use the verse out of context and at odds with other parts of the Bible.  Ecclesiastes 9:6 is referring to the physical body that has died, not the soul that lives on.  Elisha, after death performed marvelous deeds.   It can’t be much clearer than that!   

The saints are not dead but alive in the presence of their Lord Jesus and part of the praying Mystical Body of Christ

JESUS NEVER CLAIMED THAT THOSE WHO HAVE DIED ARE “DEAD SAINTS.”  Jesus understood well that when someone dies, they will live and in fact those who live and believe in him WILL NEVER DIE. 

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this” (Jn 11:23-26)?  

This union, with the saints on this side and the saints on the other side is referred to as the communion of saints in the Apostles Creed.  Those who insist that “dead saints” can’t do anything because their bodies have physically died seem not to understand that their souls live on and are very involved. 

So, where does the Bible say we should pray to dead saints? I would ask, Where does the Bible say saints are dead?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

De Maria July 11, 2013 at 9:56 PM

Just my two cents. The Bible does not say anything about praying to “dead” saints.

The Bible simply commands the Saints in Christ to pray for “all” (1 Timothy 2:1). We don’t cease to become members of the Body of Christ when we die. Therefore, we don’t cease to pray when we die. If anything, our prayer becomes more perfect as we get closer to the source of our spiritual life (2 Corinthians 5:8).

The New Testament is a new dispensation in Christ. This is clearly expressed in the book of Hebrews. Where the Old Testament is described, it says:

Heb 12:18 For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, 19 And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: 20 (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

But the New Covenant in the name of Jesus Christ is totally different. We are living amongst our brethren. How can it be that we are not permitted to communicate with those amongst whom we live?

Heb 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, 23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

Christ is our example. And it is He who first portrayed the new dispensation of the communion of saints, when, still in the flesh, he climbed the Mountain of Tabor and spoke freely with Moses and Elijah in the company of Peter, James and John (Matthew 17:1-3).

Therefore, although the Bible does not give an explicit command to pray to dead saints. The New Testament teaches, by example and implication, that we who are born again in Christ are living in and amongst the saints upon Mount Sion. And since we are living amongst them, we are free to communicate with them.

Sincerely,

De Maria

stroh d w July 12, 2013 at 8:31 AM

love this artile

Marie July 12, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Don’t listen to Warren Ritz. He is an ignoramus. A few months ago I had to ban him from one of my fb groups for abusive language.

Bill Kammerer July 13, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Then there is Hebrews 12:1 – “a great cloud of witnesses”… Those would be the saints in heaven..

JAG July 14, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Jesus prayed to dead Prophets. I don’t see the issue, other than more protestant illiteracy.

Bill 912 July 14, 2013 at 8:41 PM

Rosenthal d: Don’t you think you should have actually READ Steve’s post before repeating things he already explained (and refuted)? Also, perhaps you should learn from Catholic sources what the Catholic Church ACTUALLY teaches before criticizing it for teaching what it doesn’t teach.

Mark December 11, 2013 at 4:20 PM

I think you have danced around the actual issue. 1 Timothy 2:5 states “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” so how does the RCC reconcile praying to saints?

MARK, STEVE RAY HERE. LET ME BE GENTLE BUT HONESTLY SAY THAT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING DISPLAYS A PROFOUND IGNORANCE OF SCRIPTURE AND OF THE MATTER OF PRAYER. USUALLY PEOPLE SAY THIS BECAUSE THEY ARE PARROTING ANTI-CATHOLIC RHETORIC WHICH THEY HAVE BLINDLY HEARD FROM ANOTHER ANTI-CATHOLIC WHO IS ALSO IGNORANT OF SCRIPTURE.

HERE IS WHY I SAY THAT? WHAT IS JESUS THE MEDIATOR OF? IT IS THE NEW COVENANT IN HIS BLOOD. ONLY HE COULD MEDIATE OR BRIDGE THE GAP BETWEEN A HOLY GOD AND SINFUL MEN. IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH PRAYER.

WHEN YOU ASK A FRIEND TO PRAY FOR YOU, DO YOU REALIZE YOU ARE ASKING THEM TO BE A MEDIATOR FOR YOU? THEY ARE IN THE MIDDLE BETWEEN YOU AND GOD ASKING A BLESSING FOR YOU. WHEN YOU PRAY FOR SOMEONE YOU BECOME A MEDIATOR. IF YOU ARE CONSISTENT YOU SHOULD NEVER ASK ANYONE ELSE TO PRAY FOR YOU, YOU SHOULD PRAY TO GOD ALONE.

YOU SHOULD REALLY STOP AND FIND OUT WHAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH REALLY TEACHES. I USED TO PARROT THE SAME THINGS YOU ARE BUT I STOPPED AND GAVE THE HISTORICAL CATHOLIC CHURCH OF 2000 YEARS AN HONEST LISTEN. I AM NOW A CATHOLIC.

Tom January 9, 2014 at 7:47 PM

I am a practicing Roman Catholic and chatechist and want to serve the Lord and worship only Him. If we were meant to speak/pray to other believers who have died in the flesh and are now we assume to be with the Lord, wouldn’t one of the Gospel writers, or Paul, or any of the other writers of the epistles (especially Revelation) have mentioned that such a practice occurring or admonished us to do so. Our Church has taken liberties in this regard where the truth is not certain as to whether God approves of this practice and Who may be jelous that our prayers are only directed to Him.

Many catholics, including my wife, pray to St. Anthony when they lose something of value. Strangely enough, often times they find the item in a very unusual and mysterious way that defies logic. While I am not dogmatic that this is wrong, we must be wary that this could be an example of 2 Cor 11:14, where “Satan transforms himself into an angel of light.” He does this for the purpose of steering people away from our true Lord and His gospel and he may be allowed by God to interact with us in this way when we attempt to speak to spirits (including believers and saints who have died in the flesh). We would most likely consider it as sinful if we prayed a similar prayer St. Anthony sincerely using a ouija board and invited his feedback instead of instead of attemptig to speak to him at church while also praying to God in the next sentence. Nevertheless, I digress.

This issue seems to come down to one’s comfort in only trusting the Word of God, the Bible, as the ultimte authority on this topic, or if one is open to Church tradition as also having authority in this manner. While I have on rare occasion, said the Hail Mary, etc. usually in a group setting, I am not comfortable doing so. For some Catholics such as myself and most protestant brothers, bowing our head and speaking to someone other than our God creates guilty and seems like a blasphemous act for which I must request His mercy. Therefore, I choose to offer my prayers to God alone, bolding approaching His throne of grace, as we are admonished to do throughout His Word.

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