Question on praying for the deceased


This question has weighed heavily on my mind for awhile.

I know we are supposed to pray for our friends and family in life and death. However, when they die, we do not know if they go straight to Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell.

I know part of prayer involves the virtue of hope, that is, we hope we end up in Heaven, that our loved ones and even enemies end up there, too.

But I can't help but wonder, what if I am praying for someone in Hell? I know I'm not supposed to think this, but I can't help it. What if I am praying for someone who isn't even in Purgatory? Is this just wasted effort, or is it the thought that counts? Or could it be that since God is outside the 4-dimensional space we occupy, would that mean his works and mercy is also not bound by time as well?


It’s ok to have these thoughts. I wonder about this, and so do many others

You are right though. Besides the Saints, we really don’t know 100% who is in Heaven, only God can judge the secrets of our hearts. However, no prayer is a wasted prayer if you are sincere.

Those is Hell won’t benefit from your prayer, they have met that eternal fate. Since then, we don’t know, we go on praying for the deceased, because our prayers do help those in purgatory and are heard by those in Heaven.

It is said that when a Mass is offered for a deceased person in purgatory, they will most likely be going to Heaven pretty soon. :smiley:


When I pray for someone who is deceased, and whom I hope is either in Purgatory or in Heaven, I always add to the prayer an additional petition to Our Lord, that if this person is already in Heaven, or does not need my prayer, please apply the graces I have prayed for to someone in Purgatory who does need them!


Praying for any one even if that person is in hell while useless for him is not wasted on us.

Have you not heard of “works of charity”?
Praying for any one is that.
God will do what He pleases with our prayers, they are not wasted.


Well put, took most of my words and thoughts. You said way better than me doh, lol


Our prayers are never wasted, the Lord will apply them where they are needed.


Speaking with God is the most meaningful thing one can do with one's time.


No expert here, believe in Purgatory, but again: Not an Expert...

Here's something I found of Paul to Timothy:
May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus because he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains.
But when he came to Rome, he promptly searched for me and found me.
May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day. And you know very well the services he rendered in Ephesus.
- 2 Timothy 1:16-18
I believe this Onesiphorus was dead at the time Paul wrote this to Timothy,
and was praying for not only his family, but Onesiphorus himself as well.

God's mercy is boundless.


God’s not restricted by time.

If the person has already past out of purgatory, your prayers now, may help him when he was in purgatory.

If the person is in hell, your prayers may have helped him before he died so that the results of his acts while alive were not as horrible as they may have been. Thus putting him in a ‘better’ part of hell (closer to limbo than the pit where Satan remains). Or God may choose to do your will (help save someone from hell) and apply it to someone who is like your loved one but need and can use your prayers.

May God have mercy on us all.


If Gods love for us is eternal, then why would he not save anyone from hell post death? I have to believe this does happen and certainly God CAN do this.

Again, Gods love is eternal, so that would mean it does not end once we die, no matter where we end up.

I have bee n discussing heaven and hell with a close friend of mine lately, we all have opinions on both, but none of us know absolutely for sure what either place is actually like.The bible itself admits not many people will make it to heaven,so what does that mean?

I find it incredibly hard to believe God creates mankind, knowing the great majority will not make it to heaven, so this implies he knows Satan will win over more people than he did…??

It is very confusing to me, but I guess I wont truly know until I die.According to the bible, I will go to hell though, because I choose to live my life for the most part without God as a part of it, however I am generally happy, get along well with everyone I meet, help alot of people and animals when its needed, I do not hurt or cause any harm to anyone, I cant think of an occasion when I have…So, with all this, if I do end up hell (the place created specifically for satan and the other fallen angels, who commit terrible crimes against mankind and God alike, then there is something seriously wrong with the whole thing.


[quote="Dorothy, post:6, topic:342267"]
Our prayers are never wasted, the Lord will apply them where they are needed.




If they are in Heaven or Hell, I'm sure Jesus directs the prayers to whoever needs them


To allow the Lord to sanctify us takes more than being good to all around you. Many non-believers do that.

I believe I need to acknowledge the Lord every day in my prayers, and thank him for the infinite love He has for all of us, and the magnificent way that He showed that love. There are virtues of love, humility and much more that He wants to increase in us.

Somehow I don’t think you really believe what you have written above, and that you are venting because it all doesn’t make sense to you. Jesus established a Church according to His design that will enable us to be with Him for all eternity if we follow Him and obey Him. He gives us all the help we need.
In this short live of ours even suffering has a special meaning, because He transforms us.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit