Monday, November 03, 2014

Praying for the Dead

There is news about a young woman who killed someone. She told everyone that she was going to do this evil act and many people enthusiastically supported her and a few even helped her do the deed. This woman, this killer, is now dead.

Do you pray for the perpetrators of evil who are now dead? If so, how do you pray? What do you pray for?

We might start with mourning, with recognizing that it is a tragedy that she is dead, even if one is justifiably angry at the evil that was the murder she committed. We might pray that God remember that, despite whatever evils she might have done and did do, she still is a child of God. We might pray that God’s will be done -- that is, given that she is a child of God, that He forgive her this great evil if it be His will to do so and take her into heaven.

Now, as a general matter, forgiveness implies that the deceased had repented of any mortal sin and accepted such forgiveness and redemption before dying. And if they died while in a state of mortal sin, that would be, again as a general matter, an indication that they did not seek or want such forgiveness. But what if the evil were committed in the very act of dying (as it was with this young woman)?

Again, it is a tragic thing that happened. Both the death of the sinner is a tragedy and the committing of the evil, of the sin, is a tragedy. And it is made all the more tragic because such evil tends to cause other people to commit the same evil. Although the evil was committed concurrent with death, we might pray that God find whatever ember of remorse might have been present. We might recall that the Lord delights not in the death of even the wicked (Ez. 18:23, 33:11).

Often we pray, “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.”

If we were to be so presumptuous to judge the soul of this young woman who was a killer -- and it is NOT our job to do so, but if we were to -- we might conclude that she is among those “most in need” of Christ’s mercy. So, in saying this common prayer, we are already praying for her and others who have done such evil.

We might also pray that people having sympathy for this young woman's death (as would be proper) not think that such sympathy dictates overlooking the evil that she did. To do that risks presuming upon God's mercy and presumption is one of the gravest sins that we can commit. In addition, we might also pray for our society, for those who effectively cheered at the prospect of a young woman being killed. Too many people in this culture have made a covenant with death, they revel in killing, their consciences having been effectively killed long before.

God save us. It's clear that we aren't going to save ourselves.

1 comment:

She said...

Do you pray for the perpetrators of evil who are now dead? If so, how do you pray? What do you pray for?

There was a long and contentious discussion on this very topic at my blog a few years ago, when bin Laden was killed. That question actually caused the near-demise of a relationship with a sister who had just one and one-half years yet to live.

Out of everything that was said, I think the suggestion of praying "Thy will be done" was the best way to approach praying for someone evil.

The young suicide in question didn't seem to have evil as her intent when she took her own life - at least she didn't say anything to that effect. Asking God to have mercy on her soul is all one can do.