Praying to dead saints




The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Christians should pray to the saints who are in heaven. Here is what the Council of Trent stated: ‘The holy Synod enjoins on all bishops, and others who sustain the office and charge of teaching, that, agreeably to the usage of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, received from the primitive times of the Christian religion, and agreeably to the consent of the holy Fathers, and to the decrees of sacred Councils, they especially instruct the faithful diligently concerning the intercession and invocation of saints; …. teaching them, that the saints, who reign together with Christ, offer up their own prayers to God for men; that it is good and useful suppliantly to invoke them, and to have recourse to their prayers, aid, (and) help for obtaining benefits from God, through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is our alone Redeemer and Saviour; but that they think impiously, who deny that the saints, who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven, are to be invocated; or who assert either that they do not pray for men; or, that the invocation of them to pray for each of us even in particular, is idolatry; or, that it is repugnant to the word of God; and is opposed to the honour of the one mediator of God and men, Christ Jesus; or, that it is foolish to supplicate, vocally, or mentally, those who reign in heaven. …. are wholly to be condemned, as the Church has already long since condemned, and now also condemns them.’ (Council of Trent, Session XXV)

The custom of praying to dead saints is accepted and followed even by some Protestants. According to a nationwide (USA) survey conducted within the 48 continental states in August 2002 by the Barna Research Group (an independent marketing research company located in southern California), one out of six evangelicals (16%) and half of the non-evangelical born again Christians (50%) also believe in praying to dead saints.

Jack Hyles, the late pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, claimed to go once a week to the mausoleum where his mother’s remains are interred and there he prayed to her. In his prayer meeting talk on 12/3/87, he noted that his mother was not dead, she had just moved beyond his senses: “Hence, I go to the cemetery and visit with her and speak to her. She can hear me, but I cannot hear her.” Hyles had pictures in his study of John R. Rice, Lester Roloff, his mother, and Lee Robertson. Before he left town on a speaking engagement, he said he followed this ritual: he stopped before the picture of Rice and Roloff, promising them he would do his best; then he stopped before the picture of his mother and asked her to intercede for him to do a good job while he was preaching.





The Scripture teaches us that we must pray to God. Here are some biblical passages which attest this:

- “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 – NKJV);

- “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50:15);

- “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you” (Jeremiah 29:12 – NKJV).

The Scripture teaches also that every time we pray to God we must do it in the name of Jesus Christ, that is, relying on the intercession of Jesus Christ, for He is the only Mediator between God and us, as it is written: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus Christ said: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13), and also: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:23-24), and again: “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:16).

Therefore, praying to the saints who are in heaven – whether they are our relatives or not – or relying on their intercession is a practice which is contrary to the sound doctrine.

Furthermore, the Scripture teaches that those who have died and gone to be with the Lord know nothing about what happens on the earth and can’t see us, as it is written: “The dead know nothing” (Ecclesiastes 9:5 – NKJV), and again: “But you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us or Israel acknowledge us” (Isaiah 63:16 – NIV). Therefore, since they neither hear nor see us, it is useless to pray to them.