It is a common practice in Roman Catholic tradition to pray for those who have departed from this life into the next. Of course, they have purgatory to contend with and attempt to shorten the experience of their loved ones in that place of purgatorial fire. But I do not pray for the dead. I do not pray for my twin brother Jimmy who recently passed away. Here is why:

1. The Bible does not teach praying for the dead. At this point we have to discuss which Bible — Catholic or Protestant. The only passage which teaches praying for the dead is from 2 Maccabees 12:45 in the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha was added to the Catholic Bible in the 1540s at the Council of Trent as part of the Counter-Reformation. They wanted to prove that the Church had authority over the Bible instead of the Bible having authority over the Church as the Reformers were teaching. However, it is the teaching of Jesus which helps. The Apocryphal books which were added to the Catholic Bible were all written before the time of Jesus. These books were available when Jesus was on earth in his earthly ministry in his first coming. But Jesus gave his stamp of approval on the Jewish Scriptures which constitute the Old Testament of the Protestant Bible. In Luke 11:51 Jesus uses the phrase “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.” Abel died in Genesis. Zechariah died in 2 Chronicles, the last book of the Old Testament in the Jewish order of the books. Jesus was saying the equivalent of our modern Christian “from Genesis to Revelation.” In this statement he affirms the Jewish Scriptures that he possessed WHICH DID NOT INCLUDE THE APOCRYPHA. He also affirmed the Jewish canon in other passages like Luke 24:27. In other words, Jesus put his stamp of approval on the Old Testament that is found in the Protestant Bible. So those who follow the teachings of the Apocrypha must answer the question why they have a different Old Testament than the one Jesus used. I want to have the same OT that Christ used. One of the consequences is that I have no biblical grounds for praying for the dead.

2. The Bible teaches that the eternal destiny of souls cannot be changed when one passes away. For a believer, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:6-9; Phil. 1:21-23). Once a person dies, his fate is sealed (Luke 16:19-31). There are several other passages that could be discussed but the conclusion is the same. There is no teaching allowing for or commanding prayer for the dead. Such praying is of no consequence.

Sometimes I find myself asking God to give Jimmy a hug for me and tell him that I love him. That is a kind of praying for the dead, I guess. It is a natural human response in light of losing a loved one. God knows how frail we are and might actually answer such a prayer in the affirmative. I don’t know. But his eternal destiny is settled and my prayers could not improve his lot in any way. He has new personal friends now: Paul, Peter, the other apostles, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, King David, and the rest of the Old Testament heroes of the faith. But most of all, Jimmy has been firmly embraced by God and Jesus. If I did pray for Jimmy, it would be but a thimble of water poured into the Pacific Ocean. Things are already settled. My brother Jimmy is in heaven awaiting the day when I cross over to meet him. Perhaps he is the one praying to God asking Him to watch over me.

Image may contain: 2 people, including Mike Stallard, people standing, beard and indoor