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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: randallb on June 25, 2014, 04:12:21 PM

Title: Praying for the dead?
Post by: randallb on June 25, 2014, 04:12:21 PM
I've heard some indirect comments from relatives and fellow Lutherans about the Prayer of commendation in the Burial Rite  in LBW and ELW: as in discomfort that it sounds a lot like we're "praying for the dead"... trying to "pray them into heaven"..
Of course, comes the rebuttal; Lutherans don't do that.    I've always considered this prayer the final prayer of 'commending' one into the hands of God, the last prayer so to speak.  Anyone else heard these kinds of comments or discomfort with this prayer?
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on June 25, 2014, 05:16:08 PM
Never....even in a congregation with many neoZwinglians and other assorted rabid anti-romanists.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Weedon on June 25, 2014, 05:55:14 PM
We might wish to consider these words from Concordia: The Book of Concord:

“Regarding the adversaries’ quoting the Fathers about the offering for the dead, we know that the ancients speak of prayer for the dead, which we do not ban.” (Ap. XXI:94)

and

“Epiphanius declares that Aerius maintained prayers for the dead are useless. He finds fault with this. We do not favor Aerius either.” (Ap XXI:96).

While Lutherans clearly rejected the notion of Purgatory and the idea that our works or services here (including the Mass as Rome conceives it) could actually relieve the sufferings of the saints in purgation, they did not hesitate to offer prayers for the dead that are in accordance with the Word of God. So we have in Starck's Prayer Book the following prayer offered in the presence of the deceased:

O holy and righteous God, it has pleased You to call from this life the departed lying here before us by temporal death. Let us learn from this death that we, too, must die and leave this world, in order that we may prepare for it in time by repentance, a living faith, and avoiding the sins and vanities of the world. Refresh the soul that has now departed with heavenly consolation and joy, and fulfill for it all the gracious promises which in Your holy Word You have made to those who believe in You. Grant to the body a soft and quiet rest in the earth till the Last Day, when You will reunite body and soul and lead them into glory, so that the entire person who served You here may be filled with heavenly joy there. Comfort all who are in grief over this death, and be and remain to the bereaved their Father, Provider, Guardian, Helper, and Support. Do not forsake them, and do not withdraw Your hand from them, but let them abundantly experience Your goodness, grace, love, and help, until You will grant them also a happy and blessed end. Hear us for Your mercy’s sake. Amen. (Starck’s Prayer Book Revised Concordia Edition, p. 345)

If anyone asks what is the use of such prayers, consider “God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers...but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.” Similarly, God gives eternal life to all His people, even without our prayers, but when we pray for the blessed dead, we ask God to give precisely what He has promised so that we would realize this and receive His promise of eternal life with thanksgiving, and be comforted by His resurrection Gospel.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: John_Hannah on June 25, 2014, 05:56:53 PM
I think that it was mentioned in the last Lutheran Roman Catholic Dialogue by the LCMS delegates. At least, they stated that Liturgies published by the LCMS do not include the commendation.

I have always used it and consider it a beautiful testimony to the hope of eternal life. I fail to understand how someone might be "uneasy" with it.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: RPG on June 25, 2014, 06:19:52 PM
If anyone asks what is the use of such prayers, consider “God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers...but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.” Similarly, God gives eternal life to all His people, even without our prayers, but when we pray for the blessed dead, we ask God to give precisely what He has promised so that we would realize this and receive His promise of eternal life with thanksgiving, and be comforted by His resurrection Gospel.

This is the same way that I have typically explained it, when it has come up occasionally around here. 

As my own teacher explained it to me: "We Lutherans do indeed pray for the dead, but typically for a very short window of time.  More specifically, the time between death and the committal.  In the time that follows the committal, if we are troubled or are having difficulty believing our Lord's promise to those who have died in Him, then we seek out a preacher to speak our Lord's promise to us again.  And again and again and again."
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: JMK on June 25, 2014, 06:26:53 PM
There is a bit of a mystery involved in prayer. For example, why should we pray for people to convert when it is all God's work anyway? Can we add to the power of the means of grace? On the other hand, could it be that our prayers for other people to convert might speed up the process - e.g. the elect might more likely get converted while they are still young?

Likewise, I think of the elegant prayer, "Refresh the soul that has now departed with heavenly consolation and joy, and fulfill for it all the gracious promises which in Your holy Word You have made to those who believe in You." I don't think the prayer is analogous to praying for daily bread. Rather, I view the prayer in a non-efficacious manner, similar to cheering on one's favorite team in the comfort of one's living room while watching TV. If it makes you feel good, than do it. Prayers for the dead, like cheering on one's favorite team from afar, stimulates "honor" and "appreciation."
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Norman Teigen on June 25, 2014, 06:50:06 PM
Thank you all for these several posts.  We have been faced with the sudden death of a friend and we find your words to be of comfort.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: pearson on June 26, 2014, 03:24:06 AM

Rather, I view the prayer in a non-efficacious manner, similar to cheering on one's favorite team in the comfort of one's living room while watching TV. If it makes you feel good, than do it.


Ah, yes -- "If it makes you feel good": the authentic American religion.

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: GalRevRedux on June 26, 2014, 07:19:04 AM

Rather, I view the prayer in a non-efficacious manner, similar to cheering on one's favorite team in the comfort of one's living room while watching TV. If it makes you feel good, than do it.


Ah, yes -- "If it makes you feel good": the authentic American religion.

Tom Pearson

Yeah, because heaven forbid we should make grieving people feel better with words of comfort and commendation of their loved one into the hands of our loving God. ::)

Geesh.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Pr. Luke Zimmerman on June 26, 2014, 10:47:04 AM
I recall hearing a stray comment or two like what the original poster noted after using the commendation prayer.

Pr. Hannah is correct: the commendation prayer is not in the LCMS funeral rites in Lutheran Worship or Lutheran Service Book. Neither is it present in the Lutheran Church of Australia's agenda, Church Rites.

That said, the commendation prayer is identical to what one prays with the dying Christian. But there are times when even pastors aren't able to perform the Commendation of the Dying. And most of the attendees at a funeral, including fellow parishioners, aren't present when the Commendation of the Dying takes place.

I would lean towards the view that using the commendation prayer at the funeral gives the assembly of believers the opportunity to hear what would have been prayed at the time of their fellow believer's death. It also gives another confession of faith that the assembly of believers makes: the prayer is rooted in the baptismal identity of the deceased, the redemption that the deceased received from Jesus, and in the hope of everlasting life.

One more item about prayers/statements in funeral rites.... I absolutely love the way that the Australian Lutheran funeral rite ends with its statement before leaving the church with the body of the deceased: "In sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, we take the body of our brother/sister in Christ to its last resting place." It gives a powerful confession of the resurrection to all who are present at that funeral. I've inserted that into the funeral rites that I conduct as an LCMS pastor.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: peterm on June 26, 2014, 10:55:10 AM
I think there is a distinct difference between praying a prayer to commend the recently departed loved one to the care of the Almighty asking that God recognize a sheep of your own fold and a sinner of your redeeming, and praying for the dead after that point
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: pearson on June 26, 2014, 11:20:30 AM



Rather, I view the prayer in a non-efficacious manner, similar to cheering on one's favorite team in the comfort of one's living room while watching TV. If it makes you feel good, than do it.


Ah, yes -- "If it makes you feel good": the authentic American religion.


Yeah, because heaven forbid we should make grieving people feel better with words of comfort and commendation of their loved one into the hands of our loving God. ::)

Geesh.


One of us has grossly misread Johannes Andreas Quenstedt's comment, Pastor (and it may have been me).  I reacted to Quenstedt's suggestion that such prayers were "non-efficacious" (i. e., that they have no genuine effect), and may be justified as an act of self-indulgence ("if it makes you feel good") on the part of the person offering the prayer ("similar to cheering on one's favorite team in the comfort of one's living room," etc).  I read nothing in Quenstedt's comment that had anything remotely to do with appropriate pastoral care toward the grieving.

That's how Quenstedt's recommendation came across to me.

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Richard Johnson on June 26, 2014, 01:54:05 PM
That's how it sounded to me, too, Tom.

But I wonder if the issue here might be "what do we mean by 'praying for' anyone"? I know one typical understanding of that phrase is that we have some knowledge of what some individual's needs are, and so we beseech God to address that need (as if God doesn't already know that person's need!). So we pray that Bill will be healed of his illness, that Sandy will be comforted in her grief, that Joe will find a new job. With that understanding, "praying for the dead" doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, since I don't have much of a clue what "the dead" might need (beyond the beautiful and salutary words of the commendation prayer, "Acknowledge, we beseech you . . .").

But if we understand "praying for" someone rather as "remembering that person before God," without any necessary compulsion to tell God what we think he should do for them, then it seems to me that what we are doing is affirming our mutual dependence on God, our shared community in God, our shared love of God and of one another. And if that's what "praying for" someone might mean, then why not pray for the dead? Isn't that what St. Monica had in mind when she asked her son to "remember me before the altar of God"?
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: carlvehse on June 26, 2014, 03:34:58 PM
We might wish to consider these words from Concordia: The Book of Concord:

“Regarding the adversaries’ quoting the Fathers about the offering for the dead, we know that the ancients speak of prayer for the dead, which we do not ban.” (Ap. XXI:94)

In case any confusion results from taking an excerpt out of context, here is the complete para 94-95 excerpt from Ap.XXIV (XII), Of the Mass (http://bookofconcord.org/defense_23_mass.php#para94):
Quote
94] Now, as regards the adversaries' citing the Fathers concerning the offering for the dead, we know that the ancients speak of prayer for the dead, which we do not prohibit; but we disapprove of the application ex opere operato of the Lord's Supper on behalf of the dead. Neither do the ancients favor the adversaries concerning the opus operatum. And even though they have the testimonies especially of Gregory or the moderns, 95] we oppose to them the most clear and certain Scriptures. And there is a great diversity among the Fathers. They were men, and could err and be deceived. Although if they would now become alive again, and would see their sayings assigned as pretexts for the notorious falsehoods which the adversaries teach concerning the opus operatum, they would interpret themselves far differently.

Also there is SA.II.II.11-12 (http://bookofconcord.org/smalcald.php#part2.2.11):
Quote
11] In addition to all this, this dragon's tail, [I mean] the Mass, has begotten a numerous vermin-brood of manifold idolatries.

12] First, purgatory. Here they carried their trade into purgatory by masses for souls, and vigils, and weekly, monthly, and yearly celebrations of obsequies, and finally by the Common Week and All Souls' Day, by soul-baths so that the Mass is used almost alone for the dead, although Christ has instituted the Sacrament alone for the living. Therefore purgatory, and every solemnity, rite, and commerce connected with it, is to be regarded as nothing but a specter of the devil. For it conflicts with the chief article [which teaches] that only Christ, and not the works of men, are to help [set free] souls. Not to mention the fact that nothing has been [divinely] commanded or enjoined upon us concerning the dead. Therefore all this may be safely omitted, even if it were no error and idolatry. [Emphasis added]

And for additional clarification, Luther states in  A Sermon by Martin Luther; taken from his Church Postil, 1522-23 (http://www.martinluthersermons.com/Luther_Lenker_Vol_4.pdf) (para 28):   
Quote
28. The fourth question is: Shall we pray for the dead; since here in the Gospel there is no intermediate state between Abraham’s bosom and hell, and those in Abraham’s bosom do not need it, and it does not help those in perdition. We have no command from God to pray for the dead; therefore no one sins by not praying for them; for what God does not bid or forbid us to do, in that no one can sin. Yet, on the other hand, since God has not permitted us to know, how it is with the souls of the departed and we must continue uninformed, as to how he deals with them, we will not and cannot restrain them, nor count it as sin, if they pray for the dead. For we are ever certain from the Gospel, that many have been raised from the dead, who, we must confess, did not receive nor did they have their final sentence; and likewise we are not assured of any other, that he has his final sentence.

29. Now since it is uncertain and no one knows, whether final judgment has been passed upon these souls, it is not sin if you pray for them; but in this way, that you let it rest in uncertainty and speak thus: Dear God, if the departed souls be in a state that they may yet be helped, then I pray that thou wouldst be gracious. And when you have thus prayed once or twice, then let it be sufficient and commend them unto God. For God has promised that when we pray to him for anything he would hear us. Therefore when you have prayed once or twice, you should believe that your prayer is answered, and there let it rest, lest you tempt God and mistrust him. [Emphasis added]

Thus it should be no surprise that the Explanation of Luther's Small Catechism (http://www.mtolivelutheran.info/uploads/5/9/1/6/5916933/explanation.pdf) states:
Quote
201. For whom should we pray?
We should pray for ourselves and for all other people, even for our enemies, but not for the souls of the dead.

The phrase, "should... not," forms no command, but rather is a recommendation that is consistent with the view of Martin Luther and the Lutheran Confessions.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Weedon on June 26, 2014, 03:47:39 PM
Indeed, Luther does not prohibit it (but more importantly, our Symbols do not prohibit it). In his Confession Concerning Christ's Supper (1528), the Reformer wrote:

As for the dead, since Scripture gives us no information on the subject, I regard it as no sin to pray with free devotion in this or some similar fashion: “Dear God, if this soul is in a condition accessible to mercy, be thou gracious to it.” And when this has been done once or twice, let it suffice. For vigils and requiem masses and yearly celebrations of requiems are useless, and are merely the devil’s annual fair. Nor have we anything in Scripture concerning purgatory. It too was certainly fabricated by goblins. Therefore, I maintain it is not necessary to believe in it; although all things are possible to God, and he could very well allow souls to be tormented after their departure from the body. But he has caused nothing of this to be spoken or written, therefore he does not wish to have it believed, either. I know of a purgatory, however, in another way, but it would not be proper to teach anything about it in the church, nor on the other hand, to deal with it by means of endowments or vigils.

AE 37:369
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: BrotherBoris on June 26, 2014, 03:56:15 PM
What about praying for people at a funeral simply because you love them?  Prayer as a sign of the mutual love Christians have for one another? You don't have to get all complicated about it. Plus, it reminds us that Christ has truly conquered death and that all Christian departed are alive in him. 
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on June 26, 2014, 04:10:52 PM
Plus, it reminds us that Christ has truly conquered death and that all Christian departed are alive in him.
Indeed, in some ways they are even more alive than we are.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: carlvehse on June 26, 2014, 04:56:19 PM
Praying for (rather than about) the dead would have to assume that the soul of a person resides for some unspecified time before going to heaven or hell, such as in purgatory or some spiritual "holding area."  Otherwise, if the person is already in heaven or hell, praying would not benefit or help that person.   Rejecting both non-Scriptural notions of purgatory and praying for the dead is no more of a sin than rejecting semper virgo.

In Martin Luther Sermon - Epiphany (http://www.godrules.net/library/luther/129luther_a12.htm), from around 1522 (Erlangen Edition, 10:331; Walch Edition, 2:404; St. Louis Edition, 2:297; see also LW 52:180): 
Quote
58. However, should it be said: In this way purgatory will also be denied, I will answer: You are not a heretic for disbelieving in purgatory, as there is nothing said about it in the Scriptures. And it is better not to believe that which is outside of the Scriptures, than to depart from that which is in the Scriptures. Let pope and Papists here rage as they please, who have made purgatory an article of faith because it has brought to them the wealth of the earth but also countless souls to hell, souls that depended and relied on good works for redemption from it. God gave no command concerning purgatory, but he did command us in no way to consult the dead nor to believe what they say. Consider God more truthful and trustworthy than all angels, to say nothing of the pope and the Papists who, as all their work is but lying and deceiving, awaken but little faith in purgatory. However, if you want to pray for the dead, I will not interfere. I am of the opinion that purgatory is not so general as they say, but that only a few souls will enter it. Still as I have said, it is without any danger to your soul if you do not believe in a purgatory. You are not called upon to  believe more than what the Scriptures teach.  [Emphasis added]
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: George Erdner on June 26, 2014, 07:06:20 PM
Don't we raise many supplications in prayer that really aren't needed? For example, I never spoke against the practice of asking people to pray for a loved on about to undergo surgery. But, if you think about it, since God's love is infinite, just one prayer asking Him for mercy taps into God's infinite mercy. Adding additional voices to the prayer simply adds to infinity, which is meaningless. And yet, we do it, and it is a good thing.

So, why not pray that God show mercy on the soul of a deceased loved one, even though God's infinite mercy has already been granted? How is that any different from church prayer chains or other solicitations of prayers on behalf of others?
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 26, 2014, 08:40:28 PM
A much more general question: Why do we pray out loud so that the congregation can hear? Jesus did say something about praying in secret but we often pray publicly in worship, why? My suggestion is that those hearing the prayer also hear it as proclamation. The Great Thanksgiving is a prayer of Thanksgiving to God, and it served as a proclamation to the assembly of the Trinity, and of the Words of Institution.


I also note that in the Lord's Prayer, Jesus gives us words of command. We speak commands to God! So, would it be wrong to tell God, as we do: "Receive her/him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light"?


Do not these words bring comfort to the assembly who over hears this prayer?
 
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Weedon on June 27, 2014, 09:15:20 AM
Dr. Strickert,

I don't agree that it assumes that (but people who object to prayers for the dead seem to assume that). But certainly it can imply that heaven is not a static state, but a place of growth. Luther seems to hint at this in the Explanation to the Second Petition in the Larger Catechism "We pray that the Kingdom may come to those who are not yet in it, and, by daily growth that it may come to us who have received it, both now and hereafter in eternal life." (par. 53) When the Church remembers the departed saints in her prayers before God, she may indeed ask that they may grow in their delight, joy, and blessedness in the gift of the Kingdom which they have now received, and that they may come with us to the day of the Resurrection and its delights. "Give to Your whole Church, in heaven and on earth, Your light and Your peace... Grant that ALL who have been baptized into Christ's death and resurrection may die to sin and rise to newness of life, and so pass with Him through the gate of death and the grave to our joyful resurrection... Grant that ALL who have been nourished by the body and blood of Your Son may be raised to immortality and incorruption, to be seated with Him at Your heavenly banquet... Bring us at last to our heavenly home that with him/her we may see You face to face in the joys of paradise." (Funeral Liturgy)
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Terry W Culler on June 27, 2014, 10:13:39 AM
Brian: I don't have a clue where you get the idea that the Lord's Prayer is a set of commands we're giving to God.  We begin by asking Him that His will would be done, so everything else must follow as a plea, not an order.  Good grief!
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: carlvehse on June 27, 2014, 11:45:22 AM
Rev. Weedon,

With what assumption do you disagree?  The assumption I presented was in the form, "A ∨ ¬A" (A or not A):  the soul of one who dies immediately goes to heaven or hell (the Lutheran position according to the Missouri Synod (http://web.archive.org/web/20110416122157/http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=13876) ), or does not immediately go to heaven or hell.  Is there another alternative to A or not A for the soul at the time of a person's death?

Your notions and "hints" about a "place of growth" for saints in heaven are questionably speculative (recalling Luther's statement, "since God has not permitted us to know, how it is with the souls of the departed and we must continue uninformed, as to how he deals with them", and Luther's warning, "And it is better not to believe that which is outside of the Scriptures, than to depart from that which is in the Scriptures"). 

One may recall Mrs. Zebedee's prayer to Jesus requesting specific higher places in heaven for her sons, to which Jesus responded, "These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father."   It would be speculative to assume there are other places of growth in heaven to be achieved, which are up for grabs by the saints.

The notion of heaven as a "place of growth" to which heavenly spirits may strive to achieve is also reminiscent of the theological dialog from the 1946 Hollywood movie, "It's a Wonderful Life": 
Quote
Zuzu Bailey: Look, Daddy. Teacher says, "Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings."
George Bailey: That's right, that's right.  [Looks heavenward] Attaboy, Clarence.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Weedon on June 27, 2014, 12:12:00 PM
The notion that prayer for the dead could only be made with the assumption "that the soul of a person resides for some unspecified time before going to heaven or hell." Starck certainly did not believe that, nor do I. And yet Starck offers a prayer for the dead embracing both body and soul. As to "growth" in the Kingdom, who on earth said anything about achieving or striving to achieve. I said an ever increasing enjoyment and delight in God's gifts (as I believe the Larger Catechism indicates). In short, it has nothing to do with the antique movie.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Dan Fienen on June 27, 2014, 12:41:02 PM
There are a number of paradoxes in our understanding of prayer.  God knows everything, including what we are going to pray about, yet we are still urged to take it to the Lord in prayer almost as though He needed us to tell Him our concerns.  We tell God what we want Him to do for us and for those for whom we pray, yet we also pray that God would do what He knows is best even though often it is not what we want.  We encourage many people to pray for specific purposes as though the sheer number of people praying could talk God into doing something, yet we also believe that God will act out of love as He knows best even if nobody prayed.

What is the purpose of prayer?  Is it to inform God of what He would not otherwise know?  I don't think so.  Is it to talk God into doing things that He might not do otherwise?  No.  So, what good is it?

Marriage counselors will tell you that communication is essential to a good marriage relationship.  Prayer is communication with God.  God does not need us to tell Him what we are thinking, but we need to tell Him.  It is part of what helps us maintain our relationship with God.  We listen to God in His word in Bible readings and in the various ways that we reflect on what God has said in sermons, meditations, hymns, Bible study and the like.  We are fed and nourished by God in His word and Supper.  Prayer is an important way that we have to respond to what God has said and done with us.  When we pray we think about God, we consider our relationship with God, we wrestle with our desires and needs and what God may want for us.  If we stop praying because it is not a magic ritual that compels God's action, we do not loose the power to coerce God (we never had or could have that) but we take one more step away from God and taking Him so much for granted that our connect to God fades a bit more.  In our relating to God what is important is not giving God information, but giving God our heart.

Little children can at times take their parents for granted and instead of talking to them about what they want or need, simply assume that they know and will automatically provide, perhaps with a grunt or a pointed finger.  So parents have to admonish their stubborn child, "Use your words," even withholding what they would otherwise give or do until the words are spoken to keep communication going.  Is it unbelievable that God might at times wait for our prayer before fulfilling a want or need to encourage that prayer that He wants not because how else would He know but because it helps keep alive our relationship with Him?  "You receive not because you ask not," sounds a lot like, "Use your words."

Prayers for the dead will not change what happened to them when they died.  They are where they will be and God has already acted toward them according to His loving grace and righteous justice.  But if we pray for them in some way, it may help us by praying what we would have wanted to pray at the time of death, process our thoughts and feelings about the person and about God in relationship to death.  It would be wrong for us to consider that prayers we pray for a fallen brother or sister could pray them into heaven rather than hell or to make their place in heaven more secure.  But by commending them to God's mercy, we are affirming our trust in God's mercy for the person (and for ourselves), confirming and modeling how Christians face death, and strengthening our trust and relationship to God.

Dan
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 27, 2014, 12:42:05 PM
Brian: I don't have a clue where you get the idea that the Lord's Prayer is a set of commands we're giving to God.  We begin by asking Him that His will would be done, so everything else must follow as a plea, not an order.  Good grief!


Look at the verbs in the Greek.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: carlvehse on June 27, 2014, 01:19:10 PM
In my earlier post (http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=5508.msg338416#msg338416), the assumption began with, "Praying for (rather than about) the dead..."

Starck's prayer is not a prayer for the soul of the dead requesting he receive some extra "place of growth" in heaven.  The prayer is about the soul of the departed saint, offering a confession to God, recognizing that the soul is already experiencing as a saint in heaven what has been revealed in Scripture:

1. to refresh the soul with heavenly consolation and joy
2. to fulfill all the gracious promises which in Your holy Word You have made to those who believe in You.

As you earlier noted, these prayers are "in accordance with the Word of God."  Regarding prayers for the soul of a departed saint, e.g., for a special "place of growth" in heaven, Scripture indicates no such requirement or need, and Luther has warned,
Quote
"And it is better not to believe that which is outside of the Scriptures, than to depart from that which is in the Scriptures."
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on June 27, 2014, 01:34:23 PM
Don't we raise many supplications in prayer that really aren't needed?

Ahh!  A man who has pondered well the Small Catechism.

Pax et bonum (peace and all good), Steven+
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: BrotherBoris on June 27, 2014, 04:52:39 PM
At the risk of upsetting Carl Vehse, I decided to post this lengthy prayer we recite in the Orthodox Church on the Feast of Pentecost.  Actually, we pray three special prayers after the Pentecost Divine Liturgy, but I have only included the last one here.  Now this is real praying for the dead, real intercession for the departed. After you read this, (and I don't expect any of you to agree with its contents), I hope those who are uncomfortable with the LBW commendation at the funeral service might re-examine their opposition to it.  That LBW prayer is very, very mild and I can't understand why anyone would find it offensive.  If you really want to be "offended", read this prayer.

THE THIRD KNEELING PRAYER
Deacon: Again and again, let us, on bended knees, pray to the Lord.
Choir: Lord, have mercy.

The clergy and faithful kneel.

Priest: O Christ our God, the ever-flowing Spring,life-giving, illuminating, creative Power, co-eternal with the Father, Who hast most excellently
fulfilled the whole dispensation of the salvation of mankind, and didst tear apart the indestructible bonds of death, break asunder the bolts of Hades, and tread down the multitude of evil spirits, offering Thyself as a blameless Sacrifice and offering us Thy pure, spotless and sinless body, Who, by this fearsome, inscrutable divine service didst grant us life everlasting; O Thou Who didst descend into Hades, and demolish the eternal bars, revealing an ascent to those who were in the lower abode; Who with the lure of divine wisdom didst entice the dragon, the head of subtle evil, and with Thy boundless power bound him in abysmal hell, in inextinguishable fire, and extreme darkness.  O Wisdom of the Father, Thou great of Name Who dost manifest Thyself a great Helper to those who are in distress; a luminous Light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death; Thou art the Lord of everlasting glory, the beloved Son of the Most High Father, eternal Light from eternal Light, Thou Sun of justice! Hear Thou us who beseech Thee, and give rest the souls of our parents, brethren, and the rest of our kinsmen in the flesh, and those who are of the fold of faith who have fallen asleep, and for whom we celebrate this memorial; for Thou hast power over all, and in Thy hands Thou holdest all the boundaries of the earth.
     O Almighty Master, God of our fathers, Lord of mercy and Creator of all the races of mankind, the mortals and the immortals, and of all
nature, animate and inanimate, of life and of the end of life, of sojourning here and translation there, Who dost measure the years of life and
set the times of death, Who bringest down to Hades and raisest up, binding in infirmity and releasing unto power, dispensing present things according to need and ordering those to come as is expedient, quickening with the hope of Resurrection those that are smitten with the sting of
death. Thyself, O Master of all, God our Savior, the Hope of all the ends of the earth and of those who are far off upon the sea, Who, on this last and great and saving day of Pentecost, didst show forth to us the mystery of the Holy Trinity, consubstantial and co-eternal, undivided and
unmingled, and didst pour out the descent and presence of Thy holy and life-giving Spirit in the form of tongues of fire upon Thy holy Apostles, appointing them to be the evangelists of our pious faith and showing them to be confessors and preachers of the true theology; Who also, on
this all-perfect and saving feast, dost deign to receive oblations and supplications for those bound in Hades, and grantest unto us the great hope that rest and comfort will be sent down from Thee to the departed from the grief that binds them.
     Hear us, Thy humble and piteous ones who pray, and give rest to the souls of Thy servants who have fallen asleep before us, in a place of brightness, a place of verdure, a place of repose, whence all sickness, sorrow and sighing have fled away; and do thou place their souls in
the tabernacles of the righteous; and make them worthy of peace and repose. For the dead praise Thee not, O Lord, neither do those in Hades dare to offer Thee confession, but we, the living, bless Thee and supplicate Thee and offer favorable prayers and sacrifices for their souls.
     O great and eternal God, holy and loving toward mankind, Who dost make us worthy to stand at this hour before Thine unapproachable
glory, praising and glorifying Thy wonders: be gracious to us, Thine unworthy servants, and grant us grace that from a humble and contrite heart we may offer Thee the thrice-holy glorification and gratitude for Thy great gifts which Thou didst grant and dost still grant unto us. Remember, O Lord, our weakness and destroy us not in our iniquities; but be merciful to our humility that, fleeing from the darkness of sin, we may walk in the day of righteousness and, clothed with the a rmor of light, may persevere unassailed from every attack of the evil one, so that with boldness we may glorify Thee in all things, the only true God and Lover of mankind.  For in truth, O Master and Creator of all, Thine is
the great and original Mystery; the temporary death of Thy creatures, and their restoration thereafter unto eternal repose. In all things we confess Thy grace, at our entrance into this world and at our going out therefrom, O Thou Who by Thy unfailing promises didst hold out to us the hope of everlasting life, resurrection, and incorruptible life, which shall be ours hereafter at Thy Second Coming. For Thou art the Author of our resurrection, the impartial Judge of those that have lived, the Lover of mankind and the Master and Lord of recompense, Who didst partake with us, on equal terms, of flesh and blood, through Thine extreme condescension, and of our irreproachable passions, wherein Thou didst willingly submit to temptation, since Thou dost possess tenderness and compassion, and Thyself, having suffered temptation , art become for us, who are tempted, the Helper which Thou Thyself hadst promised to be; and therefore Thou hast led us to Thy passionlessness.
Wherefore, O Master, accept our prayers and supplications, and grant repose to our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, children, relatives, and kinsfolk, and all those who have gone to their final rest with the hope of resurrection and life everlasting. Set their names and souls in the Book of Life; in the bosoms of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; in the land of the living, the Kingdom of Heaven, in the paradise of delight, leading all into Thy Holy dwelling place by Thy radiant angels, and raise our bodies with Thee on the day that Thou hast appointed, according to Thine unfailing promise. There is no death, O Lord, to Thy departing servants who cast off our bodies and come unto Thee, O God, but a transition from sorrowful things to things pleasant and sweet, to rest and joy. And though we have sinned against Thee, be Thou compassionate unto them and us; for there is none without stain before Thee, even though his life be but a day, except Thou alone, O Lord Jesus Christ our God, through Whom we all trust to attain mercy and the remission of sins.
     Therefore, O God, through Thy grace and love of mankind, pardon, remit and forgive our sins and theirs, both voluntary and involuntary off
enses, which we have committed either willfully or through ignorance, openly or in secret whether by word, deed, or thought and all our
acts and movements. As for those who have preceded us, grant them emancipation and repose. To those of us who are here, bless us, and give us and all Thy people a blessed and peaceful end to life. At Thy fearsome and dreadful coming open to us Thy fathomless love of mankind,
making us worthy of Thy Kingdom.
     O great and most exalted God, Who alone hast immortality and dwellest in the unapproachable light, Who in wisdom didst bring int
o being all creation, Who hast divided the light and the darkness, setting the sun to rule the day, and the moon and stars to rule the night,
Who on this day didst vouchsafe unto us sinners as worthy through confession to present ourselves before Thy presence and to offer to Thee
our evening praise: O philanthropic God, set our prayers like incense before Thee, and receive them as a sweet fragrance. Grant that this
evening and the approaching night may be peaceful and serene for us. Clothe us with the armor from everything that walketh in darkness.
Vouchsafe that the slumber which Thou didst grant us for rest from our weakness be also free from every satanic imagination. Yea, O Master, Bestower of all good things, may we, being moved to compunction upon our beds, call to remembrance Thy Name in the night that, enlightened by meditation on Thy commandments, we may rise up in joyfulness of soul to glorify Thy goodness, offering up prayers and supplications unto Thy tender love, for our sins and for those of all Thy people, whom do Thou visit in mercy, through the intercessions of the of light, and deliver us from nightly terrors and from everything that walketh in darkness. Vouchsafe that the slumber which Thou didst grant us for rest from our weakness be also free from every satanic imagination. Yea, O Master, Bestower of all good things, may we, being moved to compunction upon our beds, call to remembrance Thy Name in the night that,enlightened by meditation on Thy commandments, we may rise up in joyfulness of soul to glorify Thy goodness, offering up prayers and supplications unto Thy tender love, for our sins and for those of all Thy people, whom do Thou visit in mercy, through the intercessions of the Holy Theotokos.

The clergy and faithful stand.

Deacon: Help us; save us; have mercy on us; raise us up; and keep us, O God, by Thy grace.

Choir: Lord, have mercy.

Deacon: Calling to remembrance our all-holy, immaculate, most blessed and glorious Lady Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary, with all the Saints : let us commend ourselves and each other, and all our life unto Christ our God.

Choir: To Thee, O Lord.

Priest:  For Thou art the Repose of our souls and bodies, and unto Thee we ascribe glory:to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages.

Choir:  Amen.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: J. Thomas Shelley on June 27, 2014, 10:42:25 PM
An abridged version of that prayer is used at Orthodox Funerals and at Memorial Services.

Quote
O God of spirits and of all flesh,
You have trampled down death and have abolished the power of the devil,
giving life to Your world.

Give rest to the soul of Your departed servant _____ in a place of light,
in a place of repose,
in a place of refreshment,
where there is no pain, sorrow, and suffering.

As a good and loving God,
forgive every sin he has committed in thought, word or deed,
for there is no one who lives and is sinless.
You alone are without sin.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
and Your word is truth.
For You are the resurrection,
the life and the repose of Your departed servant________Christ our God,
and to You we give glory,
with Your eternal Father and Your all holy,
good and life-giving Spirit,
now and forever and to the ages of ages.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Harvey_Mozolak on June 28, 2014, 09:53:14 AM
One of the thoughts I have mulled is...  What if u were praying for a sick person and they died during unbeknown to you.  Say they live elsewhere.  Are those prayers silly or in error or heresy or just prayers that God hears and wants to hear from his children.   Yes.  Harvey Mozolak
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Dave Likeness on June 28, 2014, 10:06:05 AM
Harvey, when we pray for a person who is seriously
ill to recover, we always ask that God's will be done.
So if that person dies, then it was God's will that his
or her earthly life come to an end.  If that person was
a Christian, we can rejoice that their soul now knows
the certainty of eternity in heaven.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Russ Saltzman on July 12, 2014, 12:03:29 PM
"Harvey, when we pray for a person who is seriously ill to recover, we always ask that God's will be done. So if that person dies, then it was God's will that his or her earthly life come to an end."

Um, no. Recall that death is God's final enemy, as St. Paul asserts, along with sin and the devil. Death (cf. Oscar Cullman, "Immortality of the Soul or Resurrection?" - 1956) is the enemy of God and serves no purpose in furthering God's will for anyone. We were not made for death, nor death for us.

God's will is to restore to Himself all that "sin, death, and the devil" has stolen, and He will do it through Christ.

To pray at the death bed that God's will be done, we mean nothing less than to pray that God's ultimate, final will through Christ is done - in life and in death.
Title: Re: Praying for the dead?
Post by: Russ Saltzman on July 12, 2014, 12:16:24 PM
As for the dead themselves, yes, we may pray for them exactly what we prayed for them in life: That they know the embrace of God's love through Christ. We may pray this, nothing less and certainly nothing more. If this is a Communion of Saints into which we have been baptized, it is a communion that must invoke the hosts of heaven.

"All I ask is that you remember me at the altar of the Lord," was Monica's plea to her son Augustine at the time of her death. ("Confessions of St. Augustine) There was no doctrine of purgatory, not as Luther rightly raged against it, and no sense of prayer somehow "improving" the lot of the dead. But there surely there was a sense that death did not sever our relationship with Christ and, by extension, our communion in Christ.

Hold your seat for a crass self-promoting moment: Read my Speaking of the Dead: When We All Fall Down, published by ALPB Books and soon available at the web site (though there is nothing to prevent you for ordering it without waiting, $16.00, 205 pp.