I never turn down prayer from someone on earth!
As for evidence - you’ll not find it in the Bible:
1. No verse that commands we pray to departed saints
2. No verse that encourages us to pray to departed saints
3. No verse that demonstrates Christians praying to departed saints.
If you have ANY 1st century references to praying to departed saints, please share them after your pork eating. :-)
Beyond those two sources, you might as well pray to a tree and tell us God made creation to echo our prayers. It is an argument from silence. I don’t find those persuasive - any more than the apparitions of Mary appearing on toast.
In the meantime, we are commanded to pray to the Father and commanded to pray in the Son’s name. We are told HE is our ONE mediator.
Nowhere are we told that any particular saint has more “leverage” with God than any other saint.
I've had this type of dialogue many times with FReeper Christian friends, and I think I know what the difficulty is. I'll ask you some questions, and then Ill answer yours (which were good ones!). This may help clarify things. We may not end up agreeing, but well have a more accurate idea of what the other actually believes.
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Youll not find it the Bible:
1. Any verse that teaches that departed saints are dead spiritually.
2. Any verse that says we can't ask for the intercession of living saints, whether they are departed or still walking this earth.
3. Any verse that implies that "departed" saints have stopped living, stopped loving, or stopped relating to Christ their Head, or us, the other members of the Body..
You write: "If you have ANY 1st century references to praying to departed saints, please share them ..."
Thank you for giving me this opportunity. The catacombs of Rome, where Christians are buried, contain numerous grave inscriptions showing the continuing relationship between those still on earth, and those who passed on. To quote just one book, (and you can read it here, http://www.archive.org/details/epitaphscatacom00nortgoog if you click on the link and then click on View the Book) "Epitaphs of the Catacombs" by J. Spencer Northcote, 1878 (p. 91-93):
(Speaking of the burial epitaphs) They pray for the dead as if they were still living, and capable of feeling joy and sorrow; or they call upon them for assistance, as if they were still able to give it. http://www.archive.org/stream/epitaphscatacom00nortgoog#page/n90/mode/1up
Messages carved on the catacombs are addressed both to and for the Christian whose body is buried there: Northcote says the simple, earnest prayers for the departed were found in the first 3 centuries .
They breathed a humble, loving prayer that he soon might be admitted to a participation in these blessings. They asked for the departed soul, peace, and light, and refreshment, and rest in God and in Christ. Sometimes they also invoked the help of his prayers (since they knew that he still lived in God) for the surviving relatives whose time of trial was not yet ended. In a word, the realized intensely that all the faithful, whether in the body or out of the body, were still living members of one mystical body, the Body of Christ; that they formed one great family, knit together in the closest bonds of love; and that this love, stronger than death, had its proper work and happiness in prayer--- prayer of the survivors for those who had gone before, pray for the blessed for those who were left behind.
Back in the 80s, I toured (in too much of a rush) Roman catacombs. I saw Ora pro nobis or Orate pro nobis (Pray for us in sing. and pl. forms) and pictures representing the deceased in the Orantes posture (the blessed praying in heaven for their loved ones here below) on the walls dating from the earliest centuries AD, the Age of Martyrs.
Tell you what. I could find you dozens of examples of early Christians praying to and for and with saints and angels in heaven, and Ill be you cant find ONE example of anybody objecting to this kind of prayer, or calling it improper or heretical, for, say, the first 1000 years of Christianity.
We are members of One Body!
Gosh, this turned into a long one. Thanks for reading this far. Gnight!