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Is It Biblical to Pray to or Talk to the Dead?

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.

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Disclaimer

Many people pray to and talk to the dead, and they say there is nothing wrong with it. This article is not based on what people do. It is based on what God says about praying to and talking to the dead.

The Bible is not cafeteria-style where people can pick and choose which scriptures to believe. If people believe everything else that the Bible says, then they should believe what the Bible says about praying to and talking to the dead.

Do Not Pray To or Talk to the Dead

It is not unusual for some people to say they pray to or talk to a deceased loved one. That activity is known as necromancy, and it is forbidden according to the scriptures. Some people make it a habit to go to the cemetery on a regular basis to speak and ask for advice as if the dead can hear them. It is amazing that many Christians, including leaders, spend time at grave sites asking for advice from dead relatives and friends. Some people believe their dead are watching over them, protecting them and blessing them here on here. That is far from the truth, according to the Bible.

Those things are what God does and not the dead. There is absolutely nothing in the Bible that says the dead have any influence over people or events on earth. If people want their dead relatives to truly rest in peace (RIP), then they wouldn't disturb them with what's going on here on earth. The dead don't know what is happening on earth anyway. Therefore, they can't advise the living.

While those activities might bring temporary comfort, they are not of God. When people die, they don't become ghosts or angels. For those who followed Christ while they were alive, their spirits are in the presence of God (2 Corinthians 5:6-8; Philippians 1:23). Unfortunately, those who did not follow the Son of God are not in the presence of God. Their spirits are tormented until the final judgment (Luke 16:22-23).

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The Bible does not forbid people from honoring and speaking OF the dead. However, the Bible does warn people not to speak TO the dead.

According to Deuteronomy 18:10-12, God will drive out those who call up the dead.

"Let no one be found among you who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God."

According to Leviticus 19:31, meeting with a medium or spiritist defiles the dead.

"Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."

According to Leviticus 20:27, the punishment for being a medium or spiritist is death.

"A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them."

To prove that this could happen, one should read the entire chapter of 1 Samuel 28. King Saul went to a medium to get advice from the late prophet Samuel. God does allow Samuel to show up. Samuel responds by asking, "Why have you disturbed me…?" (vs. 15). He was at peace and was not pleased about focusing on things on the earth after he had left it.

Saul died because he was unfaithful to God and did not keep His word. He consulted a medium for guidance instead of consulting God. So the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David. God was so upset with Saul that he told him that his descendants would never be on the throne. On the day Saul died, his two sons were killed along with him (1 Chronicles 10:13-14).

The Bible does not forbid people from honoring and speaking OF the dead. However, the Bible does warn people not to speak TO the dead.

Pray and Talk to God; Not the Dead

The Old Testament and the New Testament are clear that the living should not attempt to contact the dead. The dead cannot hear and have no power to do what is requested.

Only God can hear prayers and answer them according to His will. He is powerful enough to answer prayers, not the dead (Revelation 19:6). Besides that, God knows what is needed (Psalm 147:4-5).

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The bottom line is that praying to the dead is not biblical. The Bible says to do so is not only useless, but it is also dangerous because they get into the habit of depending on the dead instead of on the One and Only Living God.

God is the only one who can answer prayers, not even Jesus answers prayers and certainly not the dead.

  • The Old Testament teaches that people are defiled by their attempts to communicate with the dead. It is an activity that is detestable to God.
  • The New Testament instructs people to pray to God for guidance.
  • The Bible describes psychic experiences as real, However, they are demonic spirits that are deceiving and counterfeits of God.

Honor your dead by allowing them to "rest in peace" by not disturbing them. Honor them by talking ABOUT them but not TO them about things going on in this world.

Comments

Brian from Kuala Lumpur Malaysia on July 13, 2021:

Thank you for bringing light to this particularly controversial topic, Reverend. Many a times grief can make people do things that we clearly know is wrong just to hold on to the person we lost. This is especially if we happen to lose a loved one abruptly and is not ready to accept the fact of their passing.

Am grateful that you pointed out the fault in this practise and encourage us to look to God for peace and consolation instead. Thank you once again, Reverend.

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