Prayer For Mothers Considering an Abortion
An Abortionist’s Prayer—Asking the God of Life to Favor Death
Author Steve Golden evaluates a public prayer of an abortionist in which she asked that God would expand abortion.
On Wednesday, August 28, Iowa Democrats gathered at the state capitol for a rally, and they opened the rally in prayer. What were they praying for? That God would expand abortion rights.
Midge Slater, a liberal activist, offered the prayer. She thanked God for abortion rights and asked for the protection of doctors who perform abortions:
We give thanks, O Lord, for the doctors, both current and future, who provide quality abortion care, and pray that they may be kept safe.
We pray for the 45 million American women who have had safe, legal abortions. May they stand tall and refuse shame.
We pray for elected officials, that they may always support a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions.1In her prayer, Slater referred to abortion as the “blessing of choice.” While prayers for the expansion of abortion rights may be shocking to those of us who believe that all human life, including that of unborn babies, is precious to God, Slater’s words mimic the requests of Planned Parenthood’s “40 Days of Prayer” in 2012.2
The common issue running through Slater’s statements is a complete misunderstanding of what biblical justice and mercy look .
The selfish desires of human beings and the ideals of the feminist agenda are lifted above scriptural mandates.
At its heart, Slater’s prayer reveals a lack of value or concern for the lives of the unborn and a regard for death that is completely contradictory with the biblical perspective.
Warped Ideas of What Is “Good”
Slater references two verses of Scripture, both of which she grossly misapplies in her petition.
She first alludes to Micah 6:8, where the prophet says, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” She also references Genesis 1:31, where Moses summarizes, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.”
In her misuse of these passages, Slater shows her ignorance of what God’s Word has to say about what is “good”:
We pray today because we see that all is not good. There are some who would shun justice, despise mercy, and lay aside humility . . . [and] perpetuate an ongoing blockade of women’s right to safe reproductive health care.
Of course, what she really means here is that there are many people—primarily Christians—who seek an end to the practice of abortion. Egregiously, Slater attempts to turn Scripture on its head in support of the murder of unborn babies. Her statement implies that those who seek to block abortion have shunned biblical justice and mercy.
Slater rips God’s use of the description “good” from its context when she says that “all is not good.” She later prays that God would “protect the goodness that we are capable of” and that young women would “know the power of making their own good decisions.” All of these are in reference to choosing abortion—death—over life.
Death was not part of God’s original creation and was not called “good.” It came about because of Adam’s sin, and it is the “last enemy” that will one day be defeated (1 Corinthians 15:26). Slater has committed a grave error in her treatment of Scripture and in her petition that the God of life would expand death’s influence in society.
Abortion Is Not a Necessity
Sadly, Slater does not stop at exchanging life for death in her prayer. As she continues, she lifts up abortion as a necessity in life:
Today, we pray for women in developing nations, that they may know the power of self-determination. May they have access to employment, education, birth control, and abortion.
In developing countries, there is a definite need for employment and education. In a society, literacy and an income are very important to have access to; abortions are not. Furthermore, the clear implication here is that children hold back the development and self-determination of women.God’s Word, however, states clearly that children are a blessing from God: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalm 127:3). Surely, then, allowing children to be born and to live is preferable to the God who forms us in our mothers’ wombs (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13–16).
Those in the pro-abortion camp, however, center their attention on the mother with little regard for the unborn baby’s well-being. As Slater says, “We pray for women for whom pregnancy is not good news, that they know they have choices.” In fact, not only does Slater say women have choices, but that the choice to abort is a “blessing.”
But humanity was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26–28), and that includes unborn babies.
The Bible presents no line concerning when a human becomes a person made in the image of God; babies are in the image of God from the moment of fertilization.
Therefore, the choice to abort an unborn baby is not a “blessing.” No, abortion is a marring of the image of God in a human being. It is the embrace of death rather than life.
The influence of feminist ideology in the thinking of pro-abortionists is apparent in Slater’s prayer. Many feminists from around the 1960s onward argue that women are viewed by men as “Other” in society, as a group to be feared and dominated.
Another common feminist claim is that women’s voices have been stifled by men, citing examples that include even the supposed masculine roots of words such as “history.
” Slater, for example, prays that women will “claim their herstories” and even refers to God as “she.”3
Slater very closely associates access to abortion with the dignity of women: “We pray for compassionate religious voices to speak out for the dignity and autonomy of women. . . . We pray for an end to hateful language that diminishes the dignity of women.” In the context of abortion rights, Slater must be referring to people who speak out against the murder of unborn children.Indeed, Slater continues to exhibit her feminist tendencies when she says, “We pray for women who have been made afraid of their own power by paternalistic religion. May they learn to reject fear and live bravely. . . . Today, we pray that all women will know that they are created in the image of God—good and holy, moral and wise.”
God gives us dignity by creating us in His image, and no amount of wordplay, laws, or arbitrary definitions of “person” will change that.
This begs the question: Would Slater (or any feminist) say the same about men and unborn children? Are they also created in the image of God, “good and holy, moral and wise”? If she were to say this, her argument is already defeated, as that would put unborn children on an equivalent plane as their mothers.
While Slater has a point—women, just men, unborn babies, and every other human being, are created in the image of God—she is wrong on one count. Adam and Eve were created good and holy, but because of Adam’s sin, man is now fallen and sinful (Genesis 3). Apart from Christ, humans are the exact opposite of “good and holy, moral and wise.”
Does the lack of access to abortions affect a woman’s dignity? In short, no, it does not. An abortion does, however, remove an unborn baby’s dignity. Man or woman, all human beings are equal in the sight of God (Genesis 1:27).
We can conclude that women are equal in dignity to men. To say that a woman is without dignity if she cannot choose death for her unborn baby is to say that there is a source of human dignity outside of the Creator of the universe.
The implication is that women (and men) can find dignity within themselves and their actions.
But it is God who gives us dignity by creating us in His image, and no amount of wordplay, laws, or arbitrary definitions of “person” will change that.
The Biblical Response
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to stand up for what Scripture teaches is morally right and to graciously speak the truth with wisdom:
Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. (Colossians 4:5–6)
We at Answers in Genesis pray sincerely that God awakens the heart of Midge Slater and others who profess Christ but who promote death as “good” and a “blessing.” This is serious error and demonstrates a lack of understanding or conscious disregard for what Scripture tells us about our God of life.The Lord God gives us life and does not provide us with the “choice” to abort the life of an unborn child. I urge you to stand boldly against abortion—against the practice of death—and for life.
Abortion and Judaism
Abortion is one of the most contentious issues in American politics, and since the landmark 1973 Roe v.
Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide, the issue has been a top concern by activists on both sides in assessing both Supreme Court nominees and political candidates.
The anti-abortion cause has been embraced by many religious Christian groups, including the Catholic church.
Most American Jews strongly support legalized abortion: A 2015 Pew Research Forum survey found that 83 percent of American Jews, more than any other religious group, say abortion “should be legal in all/most cases.” However, Judaism’s position on abortion is nuanced, and both principal camps in the American debate over abortion rights can claim support from Jewish texts.
Is Judaism “pro-choice” or “pro-life”?
While Judaism takes a far less stringent approach to abortion than do many pro-life denominations of Christianity, providing explicit exceptions for threats to a mother’s life and rabbinic support for terminating a pregnancy in a host of other situations, there is nonetheless broad objection to abortion in cases without serious cause. In addition, despite the consensus that abortion is permitted in cases where continuing the pregnancy poses a threat to the life of the mother, there is disagreement over just what constitutes a threat.
Jewish law does not share the belief common among abortion opponents that life begins at conception, nor does it legally consider the fetus to be a full person deserving of protections equal those accorded to human beings. In Jewish law, a fetus attains the status of a full person only at birth.
Sources in the Talmud indicate that prior to 40 days of gestation, the fetus has an even more limited legal status, with one Talmudic authority (Yevamot 69b) asserting that prior to 40 days the fetus is “mere water.
” Elsewhere, the Talmud indicates that the ancient rabbis regarded a fetus as part of its mother throughout the pregnancy, dependent fully on her for its life — a view that echoes the position that women should be free to make decisions concerning their own bodies.
At the same time, feticide is prohibited by Jewish law, though there is disagreement over the exact source of this prohibition and how serious an infraction it is. Some consider it biblical in origin a verse (Genesis 9.6) that prohibits shedding the “blood of man within man” — a phrase understood to refer to a fetus.
Moreover, Judaism teaches that the body is ultimately the property of God and is merely on loan to human beings.
Multiple prohibitions in Jewish law— including prohibitions on suicide, getting tattoos and wounding oneself— collectively serve to reject the idea that individuals enjoy an unfettered right to make choices regarding their own bodies.
As a public policy matter, many of the major American Jewish organizations have been vocal in support of broadening or protecting abortion access. Orthodox organizations, however, do not support broad legal protections for abortion.
Does Jewish law ever explicitly permit abortions?
Yes, but only under very limited circumstances. The most common situation, explicitly described in the Mishnah, is where the mother’s life is imperiled by her pregnancy.
Some consider such an abortion not merely permissible, but mandatory.
However, once the baby’s head has emerged from the mother (some authorities say the majority of its body, some say merely any limb), termination is no longer allowed, since Jewish law does not permit sacrificing one life to save another.
Short of clear threats to a mother’s life, the permissibility of abortion is controversial in Jewish texts.There are Orthodox rabbinic sources that support abortion when a mother’s health is in danger even if her life is not at risk; when a fetus is conclusively determined to suffer from severe abnormalities; when a mother’s mental health is in danger; or when the pregnancy is the result of a forbidden sexual union. However, these rulings are not universally accepted, and many Orthodox rabbis are cautious about laying down firm standards, insisting instead that cases be judged individually.
The Conservative movement is somewhat more lenient in all these cases, explicitly understanding threats to a mother’s life as extending to psychological threats to her mental well-being.
In 1983, the Conservative movement’s rabbinical authorities permitted abortion only “if a continuation of pregnancy might cause the mother severe physical or psychological harm, or when the fetus is judged by competent medical opinion as severely defective.”
The Reform movement has historically taken a similar approach. In 1958, the movement’s rabbinate determined that abortion is permitted for sake of the mother’s mental well-being if there is “strong preponderance of medical opinion that the child will be born imperfect physically, and even mentally.
” In 1985, the psychological justification was explicitly extended to cases of rape and incest, while emphasizing opposition to abortion for “trivial reasons” or “on demand.” In published responsa, the movement has rejected abortion in cases where the birth might pose hardships for other family members.
At the same time, both the Reform and Conservative rabbinates have been vocal in support of keeping abortion legal and accessible.
Is abortion discussed in ancient sources?
The Torah does not address the issue directly. The principal biblical source for Jewish law on abortion is a passage in Exodus (Exodus 21:22-23) concerning a case in which two men are fighting and injure a pregnant woman, causing her to miscarry.
The verse states that if no other harm is done, the person who caused the damage must pay compensatory damages, but if there is further harm, then he should pay with his life.The common rabbinic interpretation is that if the only harm that comes to the woman is the loss of the fetus, it is treated as a case of property damage — not murder.
The later rabbinic sources address the issue more directly, beginning with the Mishnah referenced above. Elsewhere, the Mishnah says that if a pregnant woman is sentenced to death, the execution can go forward provided she has not yet gone into labor, a further indication that Jewish law does not accord the fetus full human rights prior to birth.
What about contraception?
The strictest Jewish approach to contraception holds that any interference with pregnancy constitutes a violation of the commandment in Genesis to be fruitful and multiply.
However, there are various circumstances in which some types of birth control would be allowed by Orthodox authorities, among them threats to a woman’s emotional well-being if she were to bear children.
There is also generally more leniency to limit family size once a man has fathered at least one child of both genders. In all cases, Orthodox couples are urged to consult with a rabbi about family planning issues.
The Conservative movement permits contraception provided there is “a compelling physical or emotional well-being justification.” It allows contraception for general family planning purposes, but rejects it for financial reasons or as a matter of convenience and strongly encourages Jewish couples not to delay parenthood.
Jewish law also has clear preferences about particular methods of contraception. Vasectomy is traditionally prohibited because it’s a form of sterilization, a position affirmed by the Reform movement in 1984.
Condoms are traditionally not allowed because they result in the wasting of male seed. Since the obligation to reproduce traditionally is understood to apply only to men, methods employed by women are generally less objectionable.
Hormonal contraception (“the pill”) and intrauterine devices (IUDs) are typically considered the most preferable methods, according to both Orthodox and Conservative rabbis.Here, too, couples concerned about complying with traditional rulings are urged to consult with a rabbi, as circumstances may dictate which methods are acceptable in particular cases.
As a public policy matter, major Jewish organizations have long been in favor of broader access to reproductive health services, including contraception. Hadassah, the Anti-Defamation League and the Conservative and Reform movements have all been vocal on the issue, including filing amicus briefs in relevant court cases.
All four groups expressed disappointment with the Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling that corporations are exempt from providing contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act if their owners object to such coverage on religious grounds. The Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America, in contrast, praised the ruling.
Are Jewish groups politically active on the issue of abortion?
Yes. The Reform movement has long been vocal on the issue of legal abortion and reproductive rights. In 1967, before Roe v.
Wade made abortion legal nationwide, the movement’s rabbinic association urged the “broad liberalization of abortion laws,” and explicitly mentioned cases of a mother’s endangered mental health and pregnancies resulting from sexual crimes.
The movement has reaffirmed that position multiple times over the years, while its Washington advocacy arm has been active in countering efforts to restrict abortion access.
The Conservative movement’s rabbis have also adopted numerous resolutions urging abortion access, most recently in 2012 when it called on its members to support access to the “entire spectrum of reproductive healthcare” and oppose legislation conferring legal rights on fetuses.
Various non-religious Jewish groups have also been active in support of abortion access, including the National Council of Jewish Women, Jewish Women International, Hadassah and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League have both joined amicus briefs filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of abortion access.
Orthodox organizations, in contrast, do not support broad legal protections for abortion. The Orthodox Union has routinely dissented from Jewish Council on Public Affairs statements supporting abortion access.The ultra-Orthodox Agudath Israel of America has also spoken out against a permissive approach to abortion, but the group has also opposed restrictive measures that don’t allow for religious exceptions.
In 2016, the organization objected to two Ohio bills restricting abortion access that did not provide exceptions for cases where a mother’s life is threatened.
Are there any Jewish organizations focused exclusively on the issue of abortion?
Yes, a Sewickley, Pennsylvania-based group called the Jewish Pro-Life Foundation, has sent people to pro-life demonstrations and offers a free “post-abortion healing program” for Jews who regret having had abortions. It also encourages people to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish for loved ones “lost through abortion,” and refers women who are pregnant to adoption agencies.
Is abortion legal in Israel?
Yes. All Israeli women seeking to terminate a pregnancy (and have it paid for through state health insurance) must appear before a three-person committee, but in practice nearly all requests are granted.
There are no laws limiting when an abortion can be performed, and a woman whose request is denied by the committee can still seek an abortion at a private clinic. Estimates are that about half the abortions performed in Israel are done in private clinics.
As of 2014, abortions were paid for entirely by the state for women aged 20 to 33, and subsidized abortions were granted for those outside that age range.
Pronounced: MISH-nuh, Origin: Hebrew, code of Jewish law compiled in the first centuries of the Common Era. Together with the Gemara, it makes up the Talmud.
Pronounced: hah-lah-KHAH or huh-LUKH-uh, Origin: Hebrew, Jewish law.
Empower your Jewish discovery, daily
To a Woman Considering Abortion
“Why do you want to do this?” I asked, with urgency and a heavy heart.
“Because I don’t wanna get fat or have to tell my parents,” she responded. Her voice was calm and full of indifference, as if my question made reference to the weather rather than the abortion she was about to undergo.
Two hours later, the unwanted baby inside the womb of my 17-year-old mentee was gone. I will never forget that day and how it felt. Holding the phone, pleading with her to let her baby live.
To consider God’s sovereignty and how involved he was with the new life she sought to rid herself of.
The scenario was weighty at its core because I was conversing with a teenage girl on the brink of committing murder.
Perhaps that’s you, right now. You’ve found out that you are pregnant and you’re considering an abortion. After all, this wasn’t a part of your plan — the baby, that is.
“It” seems to be an unexpected inconvenience. Your freedom is at stake, your body under siege, and your life potentially under the authority of another, or so you think.
The temporal pleasures of sex weren’t supposed to lead to a lifetime of parenthood.
Now the only option up for consideration is to call the nearest Planned Parenthood and schedule the appointment you believe will maintain the autonomy you enjoy.I do not presume to know you, your circumstances, or the complete array of thoughts at home in your heart, but I do know that if you are considering abortion, it is because your mind and heart have been led to believe lies.
These lies come from a dark place, where light and truth don’t reign, only pride. The same pride that caused Eve to assume true freedom and happiness could only be experienced apart from the will of God.
Now, due to sin’s influence on your logic, you are following in her footsteps.
I beg you to walk another way. By faith, take another route — the path that leads to life, not death.
I got pregnant with my daughter on my honeymoon. Initially, I did not look on my pregnancy with joy, but rather the recognition of another life inside of me felt burdensome. I had plans for me and my husband to spend the beginning of our marriage alone. No children. No unexpected responsibilities. Just the freedom that I believed children would hinder.
Though I did not consider abortion, I still had the heart of an abortionist. I saw the life inside of me as a stumbling block to my joy. I looked at this baby not as a gift from God but as a mistake. And from that perspective, I can understand your anxiety.
I know how it feels to be caught off guard by Providence and desperately want your will to be done instead of God’s. Yet there is still a choice to be made. Either let your actions be governed by lies or believe the truth.
The truth is this:
1) Murder Will Not Make You Happy
You were born convinced that true joy is discovered apart from God. That sin is much more pleasurable to you than Christ. Your heart is inclined to choose everything other than God for its satisfaction, and this disposition has led you to this point — to the idea that the murder of your unborn child is the most rational way to preserve your joy.
But, to the contrary, the one true joy available to us all can be found only in Christ. To know God is to know authentic joy. Fight to believe that the sin of abortion will not satisfy you. Allow the recognition of such to lead you into the arms of the only Savior sufficient to save you.
There, you will find forgiveness and freedom from the penalty and power of sin. Then you will know joy and happiness in God, and God alone, under whom this can be said of you: “Blessed [Happy] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
2) Children Are Gifts from God
If we had a discussion on why we look forward to birthdays and Christmas, the common denominator in our love for both events might rest on their emphasis on gifts. Gifts not only make us feel appreciated and loved, but they often reveal the heart that the giver of the gift has for us.
“Abortion will not satisfy you.”
Tragically, in our society, the same doesn’t ring true in our hearts towards children. We view them as “mistakes” when they are conceived without our permission, rather than as gifts from the providential hand of a loving God.
Psalm 127:3 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” Pay attention to the word from in that Scripture.
Your child was not conceived by happenstance; your child was conceived because God created that child, in his image, with purpose, and placed him or her in your womb for God’s glory and your joy. Fight to reorient your thinking to believe this as fact.
Don’t let society’s ideology about children influence you, and lead you to abort the human being growing inside of you. He or she is a gift.
3) You Were Made for More
This world is bursting with self-centeredness. If there is one thing we are all skilled at, it is being selfish. We reckon that living for someone other than self seems foolish at best.
I am sensitive to your predicament, but I must be frank with you about its root. The root of your desire to abort your child is selfishness. I don’t say that to condemn, but to reveal in love. Understanding this will bring your struggle to light so that it can be replaced with the truth that you were made for more.
Living a life that revolves around you is not to live at all. It’s the paradox of what it means to be blessed: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).And truly great: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).
And ultimately, Jesus: “Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
“Living a life that revolves around you is not to live at all.”
Jesus, the exalted king, worthy of eternal praise and adoration, became a servant. How much more should we through the avenue of parenthood. We were not created to be self-serving creatures, but instead we were made to love God and love people.
Look into the Future
Before I got off the phone with my friend just two hours before she aborted her child, there was one major thing I begged her to see — the future.
I wanted her to let go of all of the negative thoughts she believed her future to be, and instead consider the great positives and wonderful things that could come from her choosing to be a mother over a murderer. To imagine the joy her child would bring to her life.
To imagine the purpose God has in store for her child. To imagine the amazing opportunity of raising someone with the potential to impact the world around us in ways unseen.
And I implore you to do the same. Just for a moment, I want you to step outside of yourself and imagine all of the beauty that could be if only you’d choose life over death, motherhood over murder, sacrifice over selfishness, and true joy over empty lies.
Prayers for the Dead in the Bible and in Tradition
“Where do we find any evidence that praying for the dead is a biblical? From what I have read it appears that the Bible almost says the opposite of this in Ezekiel Chapter 18.
Sure, Ezekiel was talking to Israel prior to the New Covenant that we have in Christ, but it says at the start of the chapter that this came from the word of the LORD and it seems consistent with Romans 2:3-9.“
First, let me point out that neither of the passages cited address the question of praying for the dead.
The point of Ezekiel 18 is that a son is neither saved nor condemned because of the righteousness or the sins of his father, and neither is a father saved or condemned because of his son. Also, past righteous will not save a man who falls into sin, nor will past sin condemn a man who turns from his sin. The passage is not about prayers for the dead.
The point of Romans 2:3-9 is that everyone will be judged according to his works. This has nothing to do with prayers for the dead either, unless you assume that we believe that by praying for the dead we could pray an impenitent sinner into heaven, but we do not believe that.
There are, however, passages of Scripture that do address this question. 2nd Maccabees is not in most Protestant Bibles, but it was included in the 1611 King James Bible, and has been considered to be part of Scripture by the Church since the time of the Apostles (see Canon 85 of the Holy Apostles) — and in 2nd Maccabees 12:38-45 we find a very clear example of prayer for the dead.
In the Wisdom of Sirach (which is also listed among Scripture by the Canon 85 of the Apostles), it says: “Give graciously to all the living; do not withhold kindness even from the dead” (Sirach 7:33).And in 2 Timothy 1:16-18, St. Paul is praying for Onesiphorus, who obviously is no longer among the living:
“The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day—and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.”
The text from Second Maccabees that has already been cited is clear evidence that this was the Jewish custom well before the time of Christ, but is also a fact that the Jews continue to pray for the dead.
So if prayers for the dead were some pagan corruption that crept into the Church, one has to wonder how it also crept into Judaism… especially when this would have to have happened before the the time of Christ.
When I first began to seriously consider becoming Orthodox, prayers for the dead were on my list of about 5 issues that had to be resolved, but it was also one of the first issues to be scratched off that list, because the evidence that the early Church prayed for the dead is far too ubiquitous to allow one to doubt it. You find it in the earliest texts of the Liturgy. You find it passing comments made by the earliest writers of the Church. You also find them in the catacombs. For example, we have the Epitaph of Abercius, Bishop of Hieropolis, who reposed in 167 A.D., in which he asks for those who read the epitaph to pray for him. When St. Augustine’s pious mother was departing this life, her last request was: “Lay this body anywhere, let not the care for it trouble you at all. This only I ask, that you will remember me at the Lord’s altar, wherever you be” (Confessions 9:27). And quotation upon quotation could be multiplied along these lines.
Prior to the Protestant Reformation, there weren’t any Christians, anywhere, who did not have the custom of praying for the dead.
I remember hearing the story of an Anglican priest who had adamantly opposed prayers for the dead any time the issue was raised, and then after his wife’s death he ceased to speak up on the matter, and was asked about it. He said that he had prayed for his wife every day, since he had met her, and could not bring himself to stop after her death.
Prayer for the dead is a way the living show their love for dead. We also believe that prayers the dead are of some benefit to them, but exactly how these prayers benefit them is not something that the Church has precisely defined.
If someone dies in a state of repentance, but without having had a chance to bring forth all the fruits of repentance, we believe that they are not ready to enter immediately into the presence of God, but that at some point, through the prayers of the Church, they will be.
If someone dies in a state of impenitence, while our prayers are of some benefit to them, those prayers cannot make them worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. But in either case, by praying for the dead, we strengthen our own faith, and come to better entrust our loved ones to God’s mercy.
For those who want further proof that the Church does not believe that those who die in a state of unrepentance can be prayed hell, consider the following:
St. John of Damascus wrote that those who have departed, unrepentant, and with “an evil life” cannot change their destination from hell to heaven by the prayers of anyone (“On Those Who Have Fallen Asleep in Faith, 21 PG 95,268BC, referenced in “The Mystery of Death,” by Nikolaos P. Vassiliadis, p. 432.
St. John Chrysostom wise speaks of those who are where it is not possible to receive cleansing, and who are outside of the Kingdom of God, but who may receive some consolation by our prayers (Homily “On Not Mourning Bitterly Over the Dead”, PG 60,888-889, referenced in “The Mystery of Death, p.
432-434),And St. Mark of Ephesus states in his “First Homily, Refuting the Latin Chapters Concerning Purgatorial Fire”:
“But we have received that even the souls which are held in hell are already given over to eternal torments, whether in actual fact and experience or in hopeless expectation of such, as can be aided and given a certain small help, although not in the sense of completely loosing them from torment or giving hope for a final deliverance.
And this is shown from the words of the great Macarius the Egyptian ascetic who, finding a skull in the desert, was instructed by it concerning this by the action of Diving Power.
And Basil the Great, in the prayers read at Pentecost, writes literally the following: “Who also, on this all-perfect and saving feast, art graciously pleased to accept propitiatory prayers for those who are imprisoned in hades, granting us a great hope of improvement for those who are imprisoned from the defilements which have imprisoned them, and that Thou wilt send down Thy consolation” (Third Kneeling Prayer at Vespers). But if souls have departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have not repented at all, or great ones for which — even though they have repented over them — they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance: such souls, we believe, must be cleansed from this kind of sins, but not by means of some purgatorial fire or a definite punishment in some place (for this, as we have aid, has not at all been handed down to us). But some must be cleansed in the very departure from the body, thanks only to fear, as St. Gregory the Dialogist literally shows; while others must be cleansed after the departure from the body, either while remaining in the same earthly place, before they come to worship God and are honored with the lot of the blessed, or — if their sins were more serious and bind them for a longer duration — they are kept in hades, but not in order to remain forever in fire and torment, but as it were in prison and confinement under guard. All such ones, we affirm, are helped by the prayers and Liturgies performed for them, with the cooperation of the Divine Goodness and Love for mankind. This Divine cooperation immediately disdains and remits some sins, those committed human weakness, as Dionysius the Great (the Areopagite) says in the “Reflections of the Mystery of those Reposed in Faith” (in The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, VII, 7); while other sins, after a certain time, by righteous judgments it either wise releases and forgives — and that completely — or lightens the responsibility for them until that final Judgment” (see “The Soul After Death”, Appendix I, p. 208f).
Here also is a quote from St. Symeon of Thessalonika’s Liturgical commentary, about commemorations at the Proskomedia:
“And there is no place here [in commemorations at the proskomedia] for unbelievers, let alone for the heterodox. “For what communion does light have with darkness?” since, scripture says, the angels will separate out the evil from the midst of the just.
Therefore it is also not at all right for a priest to make a commemoration of him; neither for a heterodox, or make a commemoration of him neither for those openly sinning and unrepentant. For the offering is to their condemnation, just as it is also for the unrepentant who receive communion of the awe-inspiring mysteries, as the divine Paul says” (St.
Symeon of Thessonika, The Liturgical Commentaries, edited and translated by Steven Hawkes-Teeples, (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2001), p. 232f).
3 Powerful Prayers for the Unborn
46 years ago, the Supreme Court made one of their most influential and controversial decisions to date, legalizing abortion in all 50 states in Roe v. Wade. Over 60 million babies have been aborted in the United States alone since 1973.
You can read a brief history of abortion at the National Right to Life's website. If you're pregnant and need help, you can also find pregnancy resources here. May God bring an end to this horrible, grievous massacre.
Join us in prayer for the unborn and the women considering abortion.
A Prayer about Abortion
Lord, you are the Creator of all things; you breathe life into every human before they leave the womb.
Lord, we don't know how to stop something this horrible on our own; it is devastating that abortion has weaved its way into many people's minds as an acceptable choice.
Please stop the enemy's lies from seeping into the minds of the confused, take away the voice of the wicked.Help us to have compassion on the women who made or were forced to make this horrifying choice and are now suffering the consequences.
Surround them with Your love and remind them that Your sacrifice covers even this and that those who belong to You are free in Christ from the guilt of every sin.
Break the chain of guilt in those who have repented before You, revive them to live their life knowing true joy in You. May their changed lives speak volumes about the amazing power of Your forgiveness and love.
Help us to remember the unborn who are unwanted and tossed aside every day; help us to be a light in a world of darkness.
Give us opportunities to love people and present the truth of Your Word, use us to offer alternative options to women in desperate situations.
Jesus, You have the power to change hearts; we pray for the women considering this option – help them to see there is another way.
We pray for our government to change laws and close the doors of abortion clinics. We pray for a renewal of family and faith in the world, and may the Church come alongside single parents and families in need, helping to raise these children for Christ. In your Almighty Name, Jesus, by which all things are possible. Amen.
“As the church, we must not say of abortion, 'This is murder,' without saying to the pregnant women, 'We will serve you.
' If we are doing the former without the latter, we aren't truly understanding the gospel.
We must listen, love, foster, adopt, give money, babysit, donate supplies, mentor young women, and support in whatever ways God has equipped us.” -Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church
A Prayer for Your Unborn Baby
God, you see my baby in my womb. You know her every detail, every muscle, every bone, every bit of her beautiful body, mind, heart, and soul. No matter how she is formed, she is beautiful and she is beloved by you. Grant me peace throughout this pregnancy, that I would surrender every worry or fear to you.
May I take heart, knowing you have overcome the world and made a way for us to be near to you in heaven someday and on earth here now. No matter what comes, be near, Jesus. Bring comfort and peace, bring blessed assurance. In your name, Amen.
-Excerpted from “7 Prayer for Pregnancy” by Sarah Coleman
What Does the Bible Say about the Unborn?
- “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” -Psalm 139:13-16
- “The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
'” -Jeremiah 1:4-5
- “Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?” -Job 31:15
- “This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth by myself,” -Isaiah 44:24
After all, God is the one who gave life to each of us before we were born (Job 31:15, CEV). God is the giver of life. Life is not the result of chance. It is not an accident or fluke. Life comes about because God gives. He grants life to each baby before birth.
A Prayer for the Sanctity of Life
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are Creator of all and the Giver of life. You have created humankind in your image to reflect your glory to the world, and we praise you for the work your hands have done. On this Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, we mourn that many of your precious sons and daughters have lost their lives too soon. We grieve their absence today and every day.
We are broken people, and we have all sinned against you in so many ways, and we pray that today would be a day of repentance and forgiveness. We humbly come before you knowing that all of us have fallen short of your glory, and we ask that you would forgive us of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.
Restore us to right relationship with you. Open our eyes, our hearts, our minds, and our hands as we seek to serve you and glorify you through our love for one another. Transform us into new creations.May we truly be your hands and feet in our world, serving others Jesus came to serve, loving others we are to love ourselves.
Jesus, you made a way for us where there seemed to be no way. We pray today that you would breathe new life into us. We pray you would increase our empathy, compassion, and love for our neighbors, no matter their age, race, ability, background, or need. We pray we would be people whose hearts echo your own heart for your people—be our strength, Holy Spirit.
Help us to be champions of life, Jesus. Strengthen us and equip us to do your work in our communities, our nations, our world. May we stand for what you have taught us, and may we give you glory in all that we do.
We love you and praise you on this day and every day, Lord. Thank you for the gift of life. Help us to protect and preserve it in every way we can. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. In your holy and mighty name, Amen.
-Excerpted from “A Prayer You Can Pray on Sanctity of Huma Life Sunday” by Rachel Dawson.
This article is part of our Prayers resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.
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