I have been pursuing dead-raising in a somewhat intentional fashion for the past five years, and I founded a Facebook group called Raise The Dead Initiative toward that end. Currently there are about 1600 members, and various members have had the opportunity to pray for resurrection a number of times. In the past five years I have learned a few things about resurrection that I feel are important to share, but in this post I want to focus specifically on what I call “Celebrity Resurrection” and some wisdom and thoughts surrounding the subject.
Every now and again some high-profile individual dies. Sometimes they are well-known and other times they might be someone whose death-tale has appeared on a local news channel, but invariably one of my group members will post a message such as “This person just died. God can do ANYTHING! Let’s pray for life!” In and of itself that’s a wonderful idea. And yes, God can do anything. However, praying for that individual is extremely impractical and there is little to no personal investment investment of this type of prayer request. Does God have a rule requiring “personal investment” to resurrect people? Not per se, but I believe it is an important principle, and the subject does go a bit deeper than a yes/no question.
First, there is the matter of resources–do we have the time, energy, and ability to pray for the person? You see, people die every single day. What makes this celebrity more in need of resurrection than the elderly single woman down the street who just passed away? If we are hunting bodies to raise, it seems much more sensible to form relationships with local mortuaries, possibly even finding Christian morticians who would be willing to partner with us. I simply do not have the time or energy to hunt down new dead bodies on a weekly basis, and celebrity resurrection seems to be exactly that, minus one small thing: a body, which brings us to the next problem.
My second issue with celebrity resurrection is access. I generally only pray if someone is actively involved in the resurrection. This could be someone seeking prayer for favor to gain access to a body, or it could be someone who currently has access who is seeking a successful resurrection–it doesn’t matter to me which it is, I am on board. If someone isn’t either attempting access through a family or going to physically pray over the dead body, at this time I am simply not interested in participating, as there seems to be little chance of success.
This is probably one of the more controversial of the issues surrounding resurrection. Some people say “But Michael, God can do anything. Don’t you want to believe him for the impossible?” Yes, I do–that’s why I pray for resurrection in the first place. I do, however, have to pay attention to my own time and steward it well. I have a wife, grandkids who are with us 4 or more days every week, I am a nurse with a full-time job, and I am a writer. I keep fairly busy–and adding what I consider to be pointless activities for the sake of acting spiritual seems like poor stewardship to me, not to mention a great way to burn out. God can raise people if we pray from a distance. God can teleport bodies back above ground after they have been buried (I stop after they have been buried) and then resurrect them. God can take cremated bodies and reform them from almost nothing (I also stop after they have been cremated). God can do so many amazing, abundant, extravagant, and wonderful things! I simply don’t feel led at this juncture in my life to spend a lot of time and energy on those “extravagant” versions of resurrection when I have yet to resurrect even a single body of the ones I have prayed for who had relatively intact bodies that were above ground. I am open to the above ideas, but at this time I would need to hear specific instruction from God if they are cremated or buried before I am willing to pray for resurrection.
My third reason for not engaging in celebrity resurrection is related to the access issue, but is more about personal involvement. Back in 2011 there was a man of God in the Seattle area who passed away and his wife, his church, and an entire Christian community were part of a prayer effort for his return to life. While the effort failed and he ended up being buried, everyone involved was committed to his return during the entire process of the attempted resurrection. I almost drove three hours north to physically join in, and while I forget now why I did not, I think it had to do with my full-time job and full-time nursing school schedule at the time. The point of this story is that people were engaged and involved. Most of the time, celebrity resurrection prayers have no personal responsibility and almost no involvement, and as such I am not interested.
As I mentioned in the beginning, one thing I have come to firmly believe over the years is that resurrection requires personal investment. All of the bodies I have physically prayed over to date have been animals–some were pets, and others were intact roadkill that I pick up from time to time to attempt resurrection, but regardless of how I came upon the body, my heart is involved. I believe resurrection must come from a place of love, not a place of showmanship. I look forward to the day I can share photos with you all of a deceased body, whether human or animal, that I have raised to life by the power of Christ, but publicity cannot be my primary goal– I must be motivated by love. My perception is that celebrity resurrection usually lacks a love for the person and their family, and is more about their celebrity status. If I knew someone had access to the family or the celebrity’s body, I would be 100% on board with the resurrection, but lacking one of those things I will not get involved. Regarding emotional investment I do have some good news–it is not difficult to find a heart of love for the person or animal I am attempting to resurrect. I usually start by reminding myself of God’s ardent desire for life, and I connect with His love and desire for resurrection from there, and start praying.
In writing this article, I am sharing my heart and my honest thoughts, but there is always a risk, because while speaking from my heart there is the risk of dampening another’s faith for the spectacular. My heart is never to diminish God’s goodness, nor to downplay His abilities, but to attempt to bring a practical hand to this somewhat uncharted territory and try to provide wisdom as we navigate this learning process together. If the reader feels led to pray over a grave or a cremation urn, go for it! I do not think most people will feel led to do this, nor do I find it sensible if God isn’t leading one in that direction, but at no time am I creating a rulebook by which we must act. I believe God has plans to resurrect those in graves, those cremated, the long-dead, and even those in mass-graves from war and genocide. I am looking to a future where the Church’s understanding of resurrection is vibrant and healthy to the point that it is more uncommon that people remain dead than that they come alive.
If you want to learn more about how to raise the dead, or are interested in joining communities of believers online who are passionate about resurrection and the abundant life of Christ, please consider the following links and resources: