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Prayers for the Dead

Q. I would appreciate knowing our official LCMS doctrinal position on prayers for, or on behalf of, the dead, specifically those who have died (as far as we know) in the faith.

A. Question 201 of Luther's Small Catechism with Explanation (Concordia Publishing House, 1991 edition) answers the question "For whom should we pray?" as follows:

"We should pray for ourselves and for all other people, even for our enemies, but not for the souls of the dead." Hebrews 9:27 is cited in this connection: Since individuals are judged by God immediately after their death and enter either heaven or hell, there is no reason to pray for them. Those in hell cannot be helped by prayer, and those in heaven have no need of our prayers.

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