Praying for the dead is not a biblical concept. Our praying for the dead has no bearing on someone once he or she has died. The reality is that at the point of death, one's eternal destiny is confirmed. Either he is saved through faith in Christ and in heaven where he is experiencing rest and joy in God's presence, or he is in torment in hell. The story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar provides us with a vivid illustration of this truth. Jesus plainly used this story to teach that after death the unrighteous are eternally separated from God, that they remember their rejection of the Gospel, that they are in torment, and that their condition cannot be remedied (Luke 16:19-31).http://www.gotquestions.org/praying-for-the-dead.html
Well they pray to Mary, Jesus mother and shes been dead for centuries, and they pray fro protection to long dead men and women they call 'saints' believing these people can perform miracles and protect them from the grave despite being long dead. They also pray FOR dead people, believing that, though already dead, they can still be prayed out of hell (or purgatory before they get to hell) no matter how they lived while alive.
Orthodox and Catholic and many other Christians believe you don't die, but go be with God, so they don't think of themselves as praying to a "dead" person but to a fellow believer with God. ~ So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. -2 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NKJV)
Yes, Stumpette, we Catholics do pray: 1. For the dead, who may be in Purgatory, having their spiritual perfections removed, before going to Heaven. 2. To the dead, but only after the Pope has declared them to be venerable, which is the first of the three declarations, on the road to becoming a Saint - Venerable (Ven.), Blessed (Bl.), finally Saint (St.). Continued in comments.