Why do you pray to dead people?!

So here I am, minding my own business and a fairly anti Catholic acquaintance brusquely asks me why I would pray to dead people, and isn’t that mediumship.

My response is that I am asking for their prayers, being close to God, the same way I ask my earthly friends to pray for me. I added that as far as I understood it, there are no dead people in heaven, as God is a God of the living, not of the dead.

Pretty new to apologetics, how did I do?


You know I was getting ready to make a blog post on this very topic and then my brain said “Go to CAF”! and I found this. I am still going to make a blog post. You have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you.

My response would be, “Why do you think they are dead?”

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

1For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies.a 4While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.

6So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. 7For we live by believing and not by seeing. 8Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord. 9So whether we are here in this body or away from this body, our goal is to please him. 10For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body.

Quite agreed! :thumbsup:

I would also offer them an interesting segue into another discussion: we pray to the Saints because we see God working miracles through them.

You did good :thumbsup:

Also, if the persons parents are dead, ask them do they ever talk to them or ask them for help if they are in heaven. If they talk to them, then they are talking to a dead person by their own logic. Talk is prayer.

Also somewhere in Revelation it mentions the prayers of the martyrs go up like smoke from incense to the Lord.

A medium is someone who receives messages from the dead.

Prayer is to the saints in heaven, not the other way around.


Revelation chapter 5. Also Revelation chapter 8 actually pretty much the entire Book of Revelation would be good for this

Mediums try to conjure up the dead, not merely receive messages from them. After all, St. Jeanne d’Arc talked with Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret, two of which had died and gone to heaven. We don’t do that. We ask their prayers. If they deign to appear to us it’s not because we tried to get them to talk to us, yes? :slight_smile:

This old misconception again.
We pray for their happy repose and seek their prayer for us and with us.
All prayers are directed TO God.

I do have a blog post that will help you with this and it covers passages that n-Cs take for granted and then just sort of read around
The Intercession & Communion of Saints

I also found all these links up in the Ask an Apologist forum. It’s become a pretty handy place to search for just about anything that you can encounter. :slight_smile:

*] The Intercession of the Saints
*] Praying to the Saints
*] Saint Worship?
*]Is Mary’s and the saints’ intercession unbiblical?
*]What is the biblical reason Catholics pray to saints for intercession?
*]Why Catholicism Is Preferable to Protestantism?

Well done Brother! This is found in 3 different passages in the Gospels.
Matthew 22:32, Mark 12:27, and Luke 20:38.
Ask 'em how they missed that?:smiley:

You did well.

I remind our well intended, yet misguided non-Catholic friends that Christ has ONE body, not one in heaven and one on earth. And that the prayer to saints goes through the control system of the body, which is the head, Jesus Christ ACTS 9:4

And that the prayer of the righteous availeth much. James 5:16

The bottom line is, most will never see it as justifiable unless you can at least show them a example of it happening in the bible. But even then they may not except it because most don’t except apostolic succession and that is in there.

They have a saying that "where the bible speaks, we speak; where the bible is silent, we are silent." Except for matters such as birth control, it’s silent on that yet they have rationalized it to the point where it is universally excepted in their churches. :shrug:

I see the communion of saints as extended family. All of the living (in heaven, in purgatory, and on earth) worshio God and pray for each other.

Next time, you can also quote Jesus:

Mark 12:27
He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”


You may want to point your acquaintance that this has Jewish and OT roots also:


The first real blow to this interpretation came when I read Peter Brown’s book, The Cult of Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity.
Brown challenged my view that the place of saints and relics in the church was a mere holdover from paganism, and that the practice was somehow peripheral to true Christianity. Instead, Brown painted a picture of ancient Christianity and paganism in which relics were indispensable to the former, and repulsive to the latter. Far from a holdover from paganism, the place of relics in the Church appeared as something intensely Jewish, Hebraic, and Old Testament. Pagans, like Julian-the-Apostate, found the practice revolting and legislated against it. (Paganism, with its notions of ritual purity, had strictly delimited the realm of divine worship and neatly separated it from the realm of corpses and the dead.)

I think you did beautifully :slight_smile:

The minister at my godmother’s funeral used this exact passage for much the same reason you do in showing that they’re not dead.

Another that you might want to use against someone who seemingly thinks dead believers are dead would be the old Evangelical favorite John 3:16

*16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

JoyToTheWhirled (from post 1):

Pretty new to apologetics, how did I do?

You did great!

Several other excellent responses here too (here is just 2 of them) . . .

Padres1969 pointed out (emphasis mine):

JOHN 3:16 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Randy Carson mentioned . . .

MARK 12:27 27He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You are badly mistaken!”

And pablope’s historical source citations were intriguing too. And of corse Church Militant has resourced excellent items as well.

Keep up the good work.

God bless.


Well done!

Here’s how the conversation typically goes. Almost always it’s this pattern:

Objector: You worship saints! And there is only One Mediator!

Catholic: No, we just pray to them, asking for their intercession. Just like you ask for prayers through your church prayer chain. Prayer to saints is nothing more than a Heavenly Prayer Chain. And if it’s not contradicting Jesus’ One Mediatorship to have an earthly prayer chain, it isn’t contradicting it for the Heavenly Prayer Chain.

Objector: (grudgingly) Yeah. But they’re dead. They can’t hear you. That makes them omniscient.

It almost always, always, always goes from: criticizing our putative worship of men and women to: yeah, well, they can’t hear you.

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