Q. I have a friend who has grown up Catholic but has gone to other churches to study the bible. She believes that on All Souls Day, we should pray for our loved ones who have passed on. Is there any biblical evidence for this? When we pass on, don’t our souls go either to heaven or hell? Thank you for your help.
A. Praying for deceased loved ones comes from the Catholic belief that most people, when they die, go to a place they call purgatory to work off the debt for sins that were left unforgiven when they died. Catholics believe that praying for them helps ease their burden in purgatory and gains their entry into heaven more quickly. This belief can not be supported Biblically.
The Bible teaches that Jesus died for all the sins of our lives (Colossians 2:13-14). When believers die their spirits go directly to be with the Lord. (2 Cor 5:6-8) all their sins forgiven.
It also teaches that those who haven’t chosen to allow the Lord’s death to pay the penalty for their sins before they die will go to hell with no second chance. Hebrews 9:27 says we’re given one lifetime to choose and after that we face judgment.
Therefore, purgatory does not exist so it does no good to pray for the dead.