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To better understand if there is a Biblical basis for praying for the dead, we must first address the Biblical truth about what happened when we die. The Bible refers to the state of death as a "sleep" and that the dead will be "awakened" (resurrected) at the end of time, some, "to everlasting life, others to everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2; Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:51). Also The Bible says that the dead "know not anything" (Eccl. 9:5), they "do not praise the Lord" (Psalm 115:17), and that their thoughts have perished (Psalm 146:4; Eccl. 9:10). In John 11:11-14 Jesus refers to Lazarus’s death as a sleep. That tells us that the dead are really dead. Lazarus was not in heaven nor in hell, was asleep in his grave (John 11:17). The dead are into a state of dreamless sleep, awaiting the resurrection at the last day (1 Corinthians 15:52). Jesus Himself, after He was crucified and died was buried in a grave and then resurrected on the first day of the week without going immediately heaven (John 20:17). Knowing that the dead are in a state of dreamless sleep, awaiting in their graves the resurrection, praying for their souls would make no sense and is not Biblical.
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