“Ask a Priest: Is It OK to Pray for Someone’s Death?”

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Q: Is it wrong to pray that someone will die? My elderly grandparents have mistreated me and my family for years. We have prayed for them to receive grace, and at every opportunity they have burned those moments. I prayed for as much mercy as possible for them at the final judgment. I stopped praying for them to receive grace and mercy. It became apparent to me that they were never going to take opportunities but instead destroy them. They’ve left a massive wake of hurt and destruction behind them. What do I do now? – J.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It’s not good to pray for anyone’s death or misfortune. God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

It is good to remember that Jesus suffered and died on a cross for your grandparents. If he thinks they were worth his blood, that should tell the rest of us something.

I’m sorry to hear about your family situation. Perhaps your grandparents had difficult childhoods and ever since have taken out their frustration on others.

Nonetheless, it would be a great work of mercy to continue to pray for them. God’s grace can work at any moment, even at the point of death.

And if praying for them is hard to do, then at least do it for love of Jesus.

In any case, giving up on your grandparents might cause your own heart to harden. That would only help to keep alive their pain for another generation.

Wisely did St. Paul counsel in Romans 12:21 — “Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.”

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  1. Father Mcilmail has answered me every time that l have written in. I have always received an answer the very next day. He has always been very nice, understanding and reassuring to whatever question l have asked him. I will be making a donation very soon.

  2. I knew a very good priest many years ago and he was asked the same question. He advised the couple that he was counseling to pray that the individual concerned would go to heaven.

  3. Please stop doing that. God would never answer such an awful prayer.
    I have a dad that was really horrible to me, so I understand your pain runs deep and I am so very sorry for that. I completely understand. I used to try so hard to get my dad to be nice, I would phone him and tell him what he did was wrong, but he was narcissistic and turned all my words around. I would get angry and tell his family what he did and I would end up in tears and shouting down the phone. I fell into this trap several times. Sometimes you cannot change a person or make them understand what they did was wrong. So I walked away, I left it in the past with peace. I prayed to God and I told him that I forgive my dad, and I prayed that he would help him.

    I am sure that my prayer will be answered, God will give him a lot of opportunities to become a better person and return to the faith. But we all have free will and he might not take the graces that God gives him.

    Your relationship with your grandparents sounds toxic, it is not healthy for you, especially when you have reached the stressful point of making such a distressing prayer! God will understand you are upset and stressed. But his answer to your prayer will be “NO”. Your grandparents will pass on some day sooner or later but that will not be an answer to your prayer. So what ever happens in the future near or far it will not be a result of your prayer. Remember that. As you might feel guilty of having prayed that, but I can assure you God will have said no to your prayer, so when your grandparents time does come to pass it will NOT have been because of your prayer. Always remember that.

    I do not know why they treat you like this. It could as the priest said been some horrible stuff that happened to them in the past. You see when evil happens it wants to destroy good things. so say someone does something evil/bad to someone good then they get angry or bitter and they change and do something bad too. Evil loves this and most likely laughs at this as it has won. Dont let it win, take a step back and stop the bitterness.

    Walk away, help them if they ever need help, be kind. But the minute they start on you walk away. Again if they need your help you can always be there for that.

    Pray to God ask him to help take the pain you are carrying away. Ask for him to help you deal with the situation. Ask for Jesus to give you the right path, in Jesus we can see how much he put up with he was belittled, hurt and went through so much. Turn to our Lord Jesus in your prayers.

    Move onto another path and try not to focus your mind so much on them. Put it in God’s hands he is strong enough to bear it all for you.

    You see the bad doings that your grandparents have done have made you say this prayer to God, a not nice prayer. But God will understand and forgive you, do not worry as God loves you so very very much.

    One thing to try is to leave a Green Scapluar as a gift if you can to them, it can sometimes help (if they want to be helped) in giving them Graces and peace. It can be placed in their home, if they have a pet then take of the cord and leave just the square scapluar in their home if you ever have to go there again. or send it in a Christmas card as a gift. And you could send them a prayer book too. (The Green Scapluar is a gift from Our Lady and it has worked for me giving me calm and graces. Please buy on for yourself too and loved ones: it is not expensive and if the images rub off in time it will still be working). Google it.

    Please pray the Rosary for them. Pray the Rosary every day (even just a decade will help keep you calm) You can also put in a prayer to Lourdes. https://www.lourdesprayerrequest.com/prayer_request

    Make sure this prayer to Lourdes for healing is done with love and goodness, and if you are ready ask for forgiveness too.

    I hope you feel better soon and that things get better for you. I will say a Hail Mary especially for you.

    I do hope that you find the peace you need within yourself.

    Always remember God loves you remind yourself that.

    How beautiful is Gods love, it is amazing it is there for you always.

    Keep Jesus / Our Lady as your role model. I always try my best to keep Our Lady as my role model (as well as Jesus).

    I hope you have a peaceful Christmas. And you were very brave putting in this question. I am sure it will help lots of others who are in similar situations. We all find ourselves in similar stressful situations in our lives. Ask Jesus to walk with you through it all.

    May God Bless you.

  4. Thank you for the question i know this will touch a lot of readers hearts. I appreciate everyones replies, but Sarah’s reply, hit close to home, thank you. And a VERY special thank you and prayers for Father Edward McIlmail, LC who, like the other reader mentioned ALWAYS answers my questions. With advice/answers that give me hope, peace and stir my emotions. God bless you, Father for all you do. Stay safe.

  5. Sarah,
    what a beautiful response you have offered here — even through your own pain from your experience, you radiate God’s love & calm, as well as wise and practical counsel.

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