Can I pray for the dead to go to heaven?

Q: Can I pray for the dead to go to heaven?

There is no indication in the Scriptures that you can pray for the dead to go to heaven. In fact, there is a clear indication that praying for the dead to go to heaven is of no use. Here are two clear indications:

1. In Luke 16 (discussed in the previous post), once the rich man had died, he went to Hell. And he could not get out. The Scriptures show us here that it was an immediate thing. There was no “in-between place” or “purgatory”. That part is missing from the story, because it doesn’t exist! Ouch! :-( So if going to heaven or hell is an immediate thing, and you cannot get out of hell, then there is no sense praying for the dead. You are wasting your precious time when in fact you could be doing something much better with it, like serving God in some truly admirable areas – like helping the poor, or praying for the sick, or sharing your faith with someone who needs to hear about Jesus Christ and His offer of forgiveness to all who will accept it. Now this is spending your time wisely.

2. The book of Hebrews tells us that once a person dies, it is time for judgment. Now there are two separate judgments, one for those who have accepted God’s free offer of eternal salvation, and one for those who have rejected it. Those two judgments are entirely different judgments. But they will nevertheless occur, and they will occur after a person dies. While it is true that the judgments themselves do not occur immediately after a person dies, the eternal state of that person is indeed decided immediately after that person dies. So when the Bible says,

“… it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27)

it indicates we will be judged for the things we said and did while alive — and unless we have repented for those things while we were still alive, we will be subject to that judgment and there is no one else who can pray us out of that.

“But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

‘Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION.”‘ (2 Corinthians 6:2)


About Daniel Parkes

Daniel Parkes has worked in fields of technology for many years and currently writes software that is used to publish websites. He graduated from McGill University in 1985 and began working in fields of technology (microwave telecommunication design) soon afterwards. In 1987, he left engineering to study theology, but became very sick. The Lord led him on a journey to discover what was making him sick, and through this has learned many valuable lessons which relate to why people may get sick. The Lord did heal him (fully). He returned to engineering in 1993 and has been working as an engineer ever since. He has authored many articles through FCET (Fellowship of Christian Engineers and Technologists) at www.fcet.org, which is mostly an online outreach which he started in 1998. There are currently more than 1000 articles on this website, written by more than 100 authors. If you are interested in making your personal testimony known through FCET, please use the contact form on that website.
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