Recently I was listening to a Roman Catholic talk about their mother who had just passed away. You could hear the tone of regret in their voice for not visiting or spending time with her as the realization that life is but a vapor (James 4:14) hits home. As our conversation came to and end, the request was made, “If you can, please pray for her…”
That remark, generally an odd request for a Christian, was to be expected and why I specified this person is a Roman Catholic. To pray for the dead is a natural extension of the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching of Indulgences (CCC 1471) which can be applied to the dead.
Sometimes, as Christians who love people, because we love Christ more, we must speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) no matter how uncomfortable it may make us. Evangelism in any sense is not about comfort, but about our love for the lost. So after hearing the request to pray for the deceased mother, I answered the only way a Christian could, despite being opposite of this unbiblical teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. I replied,
“I will pray for you and the family, but not for her. It’s too late. God’s word tells us that it’s appointed for man once to die, then comes the judgement (Hebrews 9:27). That’s what I’ve been trying to explain to you for a while now. When we die, it’s too late to do anything to affect our destination in eternity. Wherever your mother is, has already been determined.”
Again we see a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that burdens a person and leaves them with a false hope. There is absolutely no reason to pray for a dead person based on God’s word. Further, it presents a low view of God to think that man has some influence over what God decrees in Heaven.
Christian, speak the truth of the Gospel in the urgency of this life to your Roman Catholic friends. To remain silent out of fear of offense is simply to submit to a spirit of fear. And that spirit of fear does not come from God.
Soli Deo Gloria!