My dad just passed away and I'm worried about his soul. My question is: Is it okay to pray for him and does he hear my prayers? It's a calming thought that your parents are in heaven watching us like angels. Is this possible, or do they really have no more knowledge of earthly beings?
What you are describing is commonly called "ancestor worship," something frequently practiced in the far east, though not limited to that region.
Notice how you doublespeak in your question. You start out worried about the state of your father and wondering if it will do any good to pray for his soul, but then you end with wanting to think your father is in heaven and watching over you. Both cannot be true. "But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (James 1:6-8).
The State of Man is Fixed by His Own Life
"The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself" (Ezekiel 18:20).
"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).
"And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil" (Romans 2:3-9).
Each one of us has but one life and we are responsible for how we live that life. Others may influence our choices, but ultimately we must give an account for the choices that we as individuals make. Another person's goodness won't mean we will go to heaven if we are wicked. Another person's wicked won't mean we will go to hell if we are righteous. Once our life is over, then we face judgment. The prayers of others may express their desire, but it won't change the outcome of what we have done with our own lives. The time to pray for a person is while they live and they have a possibility of changing their attitude and behavior.
Those Who Died are Not Involved in Life
Job asked the question: "If a man dies, shall he live again?" (Job 14:14). The answer to this rhetorical question was found just a few statements before: "So man lies down and does not rise. Till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep" (Job 14:12). Just as people forget those who have died, those who have died are no longer involved in life. "For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they have a share in anything done under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 9:5-6).
Praying to Men is Forbidden
A prayer is a form of worship. It is making requests of another knowing that the other is greater and able to fulfill your requests. But men are all equals in the sight of God. We have little control over the flow of our lives here on earth and as we have shown, we definitely will have no control over the lives of others after we die. This is why Peter was upset when Cornelius bowed to him. "As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man'" (Acts 10:25-26). Even angels in heaven refuse to be worshiped, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God" (Revelation 22:9).
That is the message Jesus gave: "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Matthew 4:10). If you want someone to watch over your life, then obey the Lord God. He has the ability to aid us. He has promised to watch over His children. When you are praying to a dead man, you are elevating the dead to the level of the Eternal God.
Thank you for answering so quick. It is really confusing when people tell you your loved one will watch over us from heaven. I even had a few preachers say so. Thank you for your knowledge. I worry a lot about what is right or wrong every day when it comes to worshiping and praying. I think I even start my prayer with please forgive if this prayer is wrong. Again thank you.
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:7-11).
God has your best interest in mind. You should have no fear of approaching Him with your requests. Learn as you go through life and adjust what you do to be closer each day to His will. But don't live in fear and doubt because that will keep you from maturing.