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?