As a Catholic I quite often pray for my deceased loved ones for their cleansing and entry into heaven. As I understand it Protestants believe this to be futile. Their claim is that no one in hell can benefit from such prayers and Catholics would agree. Those in heaven would not need prayers and Catholics would agree, though we often ask for the help of those in heaven by asking them to prayer for us on earth. I also understand that Protestants claim that one’s eternal destiny is set the instant after death. Catholics believe hell, heaven and for a while purgatory are possible destinations. Purgatory would be a process /place where those souls that are not clean are purified before their guaranteed entry into heaven.
What I want to ask my Protestant brothers and sisters is this. If God does not want us to pray for the dead then why did Jesus pray after Lazarus had died so that Lazarus would be raised? Further, what was God doing answering Peter’s prayer to raise Tabitha from the dead? Here are two New Testament entries that clearly demonstrate someone is dead, an alive person prayers for such person, the dead person is raised. It seems to me that if the Protestant position in that praying for the dead is futile were true then God should have not raised Tabitha or Lazarus upon hearing such prayers. As it is we know that God did hear and answer both prayers and raised the dead person. My conclusion is that praying for deceased people is a good and loving thing and this would fall in line with my Catholic beliefs, Catholic Tradition and scripture. I also conclude that the Protestant stance on prayers for the dead as being futile does not line up with God’s will nor Scripture. I’d be interested to hear the Protestant answer to what I have raised. God bless,