When unsure ,where is prayer directed if

Often I pray fo people I’ve lost contact with who are aged…if I pray "Eternal rest to them oh Lord…"assuming they may have passed on to the next life and they are actually still alive, would those prayers go to the next soul in purgatory waiting to be released or help the original one prayed for?(or both?)

I think you can ask God to benefit the souls of those for you pray, whether living or dead, and ask Him that if anyone you are praying for isn’t on earth or in purgatory, but already in heaven,
could He then bless another needy soul with your prayers.

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Just tell God how you would like the prayer applied, adding that of course if he wants to do something else you bow to His holy will, but if possible please grant your request in Jesus’ name.

The only limitation is you can’t get an indulgence for anyone still living (apart from yourself), so any indulgence will go immediately to help another poor soul who has already died, and can’t be “saved up” waiting for some person to pass away.

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