Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Brief Note on Praying for the Dead

The tragic death of Robin Williams may prompt, as it does in me, the desire to pray for him even after his demise.  Is it appropriate to do so?

I would say yes.  God is not confined by time, nor by life and death.  So if we desire to pray for the dead, it is good to do so with trust that God will answer with his grace that transcends time and life and death.

Certainly, through the centuries, a lot of questionable practices and beliefs have gotten attached to prayers for the dead.  But I still think the instinct to pray for the dead is a good one and one which honors God’s transcendence over what for us are the barriers of time and death.

And it is a way our own love can reach over those barriers.


Topper said...

Prayers for the dead were rejected by the Anglican reformers in the 16th century because: (1) they have no scriptural basis; (2) they lead people into serious doctrinal (and, subsequently, spiritual) error.

Here is a discussion of the traditional Anglican position by David Phillips of the Church Society:

Here is a good scriptural discussion:

Here is a quote from the book "The Catholic Faith" by W. Griffith Thomas, an eminent early 20th century Conservative Evangelical Anglican Divine:
" The root of Prayers for the Dead is failure to realize what Justification means. We are “accounted righteous before God” from the very moment we accept Christ. This Justification settles at once and for ever our position before God. Our spiritual standing is unchanged through life, and our title to Heaven is at once and for ever given. Justification is not repeated, it is permanent, and this settles the question of Heaven and God’s presence once for all.

You can read his whole discussion about prayers for the dead at:

Look for: Chapter XVI – Prayers for the Dead

Mattexian said...

I would say that, most times prayers for the dead also offer up prayers for comfort and peace for the living, those closest to the departed, since they are deepest affected.