I’ve been praying for so many dead people to be raised lately. There are two reasons. To begin with, I’ve just had so many people I know and love dying recently that I feel it would be a pity not to pray for their resurrections (and, incidentally, I’ve noticed it’s much easier to pray for the dead soon after they die… you’d have to be jacked up on some crazy faith to walk up to a row of cold tombstones to practice raising the dead there!). Oh, and secondly because of that little thing in Matthew 10:8, where Jesus commanded the disciples to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” – you know, since freely we have received, we must freely give. (Oh yeah, and since it’s a command, I shouldn’t be the only crazy one calling life forth in dead bodies! Please join me!)
Well, I’m learning that it’s not an easy thing to pray for the dead. There are all kinds of people mourning all around you. Here in Sudan, the mourners wail and flail – kick and roll around – as hopelessness and despair take over. In the States, the air is thick and silent with a tangible, heavy grief. Even speaking words of consolation into that atmosphere seems pointless, let alone boldly commanding life back into a dead body! And, no matter where you are, death has been experienced time and time again until funeral preparations are streamlined – making it so hard to get a moment with the body. In America, the bodies are efficiently wheeled off to cold rooms, closed up in tight boxes, and transported in darkened vehicles. In Africa, the body is wrapped in sheets, quickly taken away to the home of the family, and buried within a matter of hours. Priests and pastors alike tell you not to waste your breath calling the spirit back, since “death comes to us all.” And, there is the obvious mental block of actually seeing the dead body before you and not giving into hopelessness and despair for yourself.
No. I’ve learned that praying for the dead is not easy. It is a battle. It is really hard. It is very risky. But, there is a very strong part of me that rails against the injustice of death and cries out for God’s Kingdom to come. It is that part of me that pushes me to keep praying and trusting and anticipating the day when I get to witness God claiming back everything He already paid for.