Prayer for the dead


#1

The Protestant object that we should not pray for the dead. They claim that those dead who are in heaven, don’t need it. And those dead who are in hell, don’t want it. And they deny the existence of Purgatory.
How do we respond? Have you ever thought about why you pray for your beloved dead?

— 1 —
The most beautiful response I’ve ever heard is from C.S. Lewis, he said:

Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter me. And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him? . . .(Mere Christianity).

And I think, that should suffice. We pray for our beloved dead, because we love them.

— 2 —

But Protestants want more than that. They don’t, generally, accept the Spiritual groanings of God:
Romans 8:26 King James Version (KJV)

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

They live by the letter and not by the spirit:

1 Corinthians 2:14King James Version (KJV)

14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
So, they claim that God has never permitted the living to intercede for the dead. And they have taken great pains to remove any vestige of such an idea from the Bible. The one book which has an explicit statement on the matter was removed because of that teaching. Luther said:

“I am so great an enemy to the second book of the Maccabees, and to Esther, that I wish they had not come to us at all, for they have too many heathen unnaturalities.”

— 3 —

The so-called, “heathen unnaturalities” to which he refers are found in 2 Maccabees 12:41-46.

41 Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden.
42 And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain.
43 And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection,
44 (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,)
45 And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.
46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

Notice several Catholic doctrines here confirmed. Read more


#2

God exists in eternity, where there is no time. Time is an illusion or at best a convenience created for our use.

So, what is the distinction between intercessory prayer for the “living” which is highly regarded, by St. Paul for example, and prayer for those who have died? If we pray for someone who has passed away, it’s the same as if we were praying for someone who is still living among us.

There is no prohibition of prayer for the dead, as I have ever heard.

Any way you look at it, our catechism teaches that the Lord’s Prayer is the perfect prayer, which includes all other types of prayers. Although the catechism doesn’t expand on how this prayer benefits those who have passed away, that intention surely would be included in this perfect prayer for all our intentions.

Prayer does not coerce God but is an expression of communication with God.


#3

Prayer does coerce God.
Luke 11:5-13New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

Perseverance in Prayer
5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

9 “So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 11 Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for[a] a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? 12 Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit** to those who ask him!”**


#4

While I can’t speak for all protestants, I will say that in my experience, it seems at times that praying for a dead relative means the person believes in Purgatory. I do not believe in Purgatory, but I most certainly prayed for my loved ones that have passed on (my parents, younger brother and best friend). I most assuredly did NOT pray that they be released from Purgatory, nor did I “pray” the rosary (that is another topic for another thread). I would say that my prayers for my loved ones that have passed on were very different than what I prayed when they were alive and well (for example, I no longer need to ask that God would help them resist temptation).

I would also add (though a bit off topic) that I do not “ask” my deceased loved ones to intercede for me. There is, I believe, a very big difference between praying “for” someone (which I do), and praying “to” someone (such as in praying “to” saints or angels). We can certainly pray “for” each other (living or dead), but I find nothing in Scripture that even hints that we can pray “to” someone that is “asleep in the Lord” (or just dead, depending on how you choose to view it).


#5

catholictreasury.info/books/treatise_on_purgatory/


#6

Why in the world would you pray for your “dead” relatives if you don’t believe in Purgatory? Makes no sense at all.

You do realize when praying the rosary you are supposed to be meditating on certain points of Jesus’ life? I have never met anyone who prayed the rosary diligently who did not have a fervent love of Jesus.


#7

The devil says that is one HELLUVA signature! :thumbsup:


#8

The passage says that God, who is better than us, will do more for us than we do for one another. It does not say that our praying for things forces God to give them to us, because that is not prayer: it’s magic, and it is the reason why the Greeks burnt witches long before Christ.


#9

Luke 18:1-8New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE)

The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge
18 Then Jesus[a] told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3 In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4 For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5 yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”** 6 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. 7 And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? 8 I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”**


#10

The expression of St Paul in 2 Timothy 1:16-18 conveys the impression that Onesiphorus was dead at the time he wrote. Thus, St Paul could well be praying for the dead when he said, in verse 18, “…may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day…”


#11

Great post as usual De Maria!

An objector to Purgatory is correct in saying that those in Heaven do ‘need’ our prayers…but if that is the best argument, I have countered with ‘Does G-d “need” our prayers?’ The answer is of course ‘No’. He does not ‘need’ anything from us. But He commands us to pray none-the-less. Prayer draws us closer to Him, and He desires us to be closer to Him, not for His benefit, but for ours. Why wouldn’t we want to be closer to those who have passed from this life?

I also find that prayers for the dead also falls in line with the old (Scriptural) adage of do unto others as you would have done to you. Why wouldn’t we want others to pray for us to receive (more) mercy after death? I pray that I have many advocates pleading my case in addition to Christ!

Peace in Christ


#12

In this parable, as in the previous one, God says that even immoral mortals listen to supplicants, and so people can be assured that God will listen to them. Nothing there suggests that God is controlled by human action.


#13

In this parable, as in the previous one, God says that even immoral mortals listen to supplicants, and so people can be assured that God will listen to them. Nothing there suggests that God is controlled by human action.


#14

In this parable, as in the previous one, God says that even immoral mortals listen to supplicants, and so people can be assured that God will listen to them. Nothing there suggests that God is controlled by human action.


#15

[quote=Duane1966] Why in the world would you pray for your “dead” relatives if you don’t believe in Purgatory? Makes no sense at all.
[/quote]

Exactly the attitude I’ve encountered. Basically, what I understand is be said is “If you pray for the dead, then you must believe in Purgatory”. I have prayed for loved ones who have passed on, not once did I ever ask God to forgive them for anything, release them from punishment, lighten their torments, etc… with the idea that someday they might be admitted into Heaven. I do thank God for allowing me to have known them, acknowledge God’s sovereignty in ALL things, including salvation, express confidence in His choices and ask that He would allow the loved one to know that those of us that are still alive are doing OK and hope to see them again when our time comes. What in a prayer like that, even hints at a belief in Purgatory?

You do realize when praying the rosary you are supposed to be meditating on certain points of Jesus’ life? I have never met anyone who prayed the rosary diligently who did not have a fervent love of Jesus.

As I already mentioned, this is another topic for another thread.


#16

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