In mid June, Beliefnet member Corpus sought some parenting advice by posting a rather tough question on our message boards. In typical Beliefnet style, you accepted his challenge and gave Corpus--and the rest of the Beliefnet community--plenty to think about.

June 21, 2001
When praying with my four year old son one evening, I explained to him that it's important for us to pray for those people who do bad things in hope that they will seek forgiveness and return to God. My son thought carefully and asked if we could pray for the devil. After a few minutes of humming and hawing I said yes. When I later suggested to him that the devil had already made his decision, he pointed out that mom and dad told him God can do anything and that he (my son) needs to believe in the power of prayer.

I'd like to give a straight answer to my son, but am not sure what the answer is. Is praying for the devil good, bad or simply ineffective?

The following pages contain a selection of your responses.

No prayers for Satan!     Undecided     Go ahead and pray!
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No prayers for Satan!No, you can't pray for the devil. The devil is an angelic spirit, and once they make a decision, such as rebelling against God, they can't go back on it: it's their nature. So there's no hope for the devil...

No prayers for Satan!Quote from the catechism:
393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes angels' sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for man after his death."

No prayers for Satan!I don't believe you should pray for people OR angels, simply because asking God to intervene would defeat the purpose of that person haveing free will and using that FREE WILL to choose to do the right thing.

Go ahead and pray!Sometimes it appears that children are more intelligent than Adults. I have often asked this question. The simple answer is, "Why not."

...If you dismiss Satan as worthy of prayer, then don't pray for anyone.

If you pick and choose which Godly creation to love, then you are a hypocrite.

Give Satan a hug today. I wonder when was the last time Satan received a kiss or a hug from God.

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Go ahead and pray!I'm not Catholic, or even Christian for that matter, but I think that if you want your son to reaffirm his belief that your God is forgiving and that even the worst of the worst can break down before your God, then I think that would probably be fine, praying for the Devil.

You have to be doing something right to have your son so interested in helping others do the right thing and get closer to God. He may be a bit too young to be able to understand that the devil chose the job he has from his own free will, however this may be a very good time for you to introduce to your son how very important our choices are.

No prayers for Satan!If you pray for the devil, you might just call his attention to you, therefore, pray that you and your loved ones are always able to rise above him. No one said life was easy.

Go ahead and pray!Is not Satan your enemy Christians? Do you not pray for repentance, conversion, good health, goodness, and godliness for your enemies. Why does Satan deserve any less?

Go ahead and pray!i don't know why all these people are arguing; why shouldn't you pray for the devil? if God created him then he's one of his children and has just as much chance of redemption as anyone else.
so it's a slim hope but maybe if more people pray for him then his chances will improve.

UndecidedWhen I was a child, about the same age as your son, I struggled with this same idea. I confess I do not know the answer--nor do the arguments here sway me. All living things change, if Satan has a living soul, then that soul too must be capable of change. If he does not have a living soul, then how does he have any power at all?

It cannot hurt for your son to pray for Satan's repentence; it may not do Satan any good, but it shows deep compassion, and cannot do your son any harm.

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UndecidedLighten up folks! The kid sounds sweet. If he's lucky he won't get squished by a heavy-handed dogma that rids him of his natural tendency towards compassion and hope.

UndecidedThe child's question is the wisest post on this board. Maybe that's what prayer for the Devil is, our own moral awareness raised to a new level.

No prayers for Satan!Praying for the Devil is praying for someone who has gone to Hell. Pray for the poor souls in Purgatory. Those in Hell, unfortunately, have condemned themselves to eternal damnation by totally rejecting God's love, and thereby God judges that they forever go to Hell and are eternally separated from the Trinity. That would include the Devil.

UndecidedIf your son can forgive even the devil all that is past then he won't find any difficulty forgiving other humans--an excellent grounding for christian life i should say.

Go ahead and pray!As for the Devil, does he have free will or not? If he has free will, there is a chance, no matter how small, that he might give up the rebellion. Why shouldn't we pray for that, as the best possible outcome?

If he does not have free will, then he has no sin. Don't you need free will and choices to sin? If the Devil has made his choice, is now stuck, and now can no longer make choices, then he is no longer a being capable of sin. He no longer has the ability to decide to continue doing evil--it is now his nature to be evil and he cannot change it. Therefore, he is not guilty of that evil any more than my cat is guilty of murder when, in obedience to his nature, he kills a mouse.

Isn't the capacity to sin directly related to the capacity to stop sinning?

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