PRAYING FOR THE DEAD?
"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27 NKJV).
Recently, my mother died after a brief illness. Expectedly, many people that heard the sad news condoled with me. However, what interested me about the condolence was the fact that most of the people that condoled with me were praying for my dead mother. I was not surprised about this, but I hardly say "Amen" to such prayers because I do not believe in praying for the dead. I would rather prefer praying for the beloved living ones that the dead left behind.
The act of praying for the dead is an established one in many cultures, religions and even some Christian denominations. There are even strong doctrines in support of the practice in some of these denominations. There have been arguments for and against the practice. Nevertheless, the act is contrary to the teachings of the Holy Bible. Our prayers have no bearing on a person once he has died. The reason is that at that point his eternal future is confirmed. Either he is saved through faith in Jesus Christ and is in Gods presence where he is experiencing rest and the joy of being in His presence, or he is in hell or torments. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar (in Luke 16) is a good illustration of this. Hebrews 9:27 reads thus: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (NKJV). Paul was confident that to be absent from the body was to be at home and present with the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 5:1-8). He also said, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far" (Philippians 1:21-23 NIV). In Revelation 14:13, it is declared that those that are dead in the Lord are blessed already and are resting from any labour because their deeds are following them.
No matter how acceptable the practice of praying for the dead may be, it negates the teachings of the Scriptures. The simple gospel message is: "[Anyone] who believes in [Jesus Christ], though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25 NKJV). The implication of this is that one must settle one's eternal destination here on earth. No amount of prayers will change one's eternal state once one is dead. Period!
In His service,
Bayo Afolaranmi (Pastor).
While I do not intend to engage in argument with anyone on the matter of praying for the dead, you may send your reaction(s) to this message to me at email@example.com. God bless you!