A prayer for a funeral

a prayer for a funeral

Biblical funeral prayers are one important way for Christians to honor God, show their trust and faith in him, and proclaim his goodness and sovereignty over all of life’s affairs. In life and in death our hope is in God and in the saving work of Jesus his Son.

So it is right to pray at a Christian’s funeral service. Prayer is an act of worship, an act of trust, and an act of obedience. As such, funeral prayers are profoundly comforting to believers and a wonderful testimony of the deceased’s faith in Christ.

Additionally, because we believe that the Bible is our rule of faith and conduct, it is good to pray Biblical funeral prayers that are taken directly from the Scriptures. This, again, is a way to honor God by proclaiming his word. The Word and prayer are also means of grace by which the Holy Spirit encourages and comforts his people.

Here are ten beautiful and biblical prayers to pray at a believer’s funeral.

a prayer for a funeral

Biblical Funeral Prayers for a Christian Funeral Service

Any of these biblical funeral prayers can be read by a pastor or clergy, by a close friend or family member, or corporately by all attendees. You can divide these up into call-and-response readings, where the leader reads one or more verses and the rest of the funeral service attendees read the next verse or two. Corporate prayers invite participation and allow mourners a way to express grief and faith.

However, not all who attend a funeral are believers, so unless the funeral is held in a church and officiated by a minister you may want to preface any corporate prayers, readings, or hymns with an invitation to participate but also note that it is not required. This is an excellent opportunity to present the the gospel as you encourage those who cannot pray along with you to at least listen and consider the words of Scripture. See “Example of Call-and-Response Corporate Prayer” at the end of this article for how to do a prayer in this manner.

1. PSALM 23

a prayer for a funeral

King James Version (Traditional)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil:
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil;
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

English Standard Version (Contemporary)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

2. THE LORD’S PRAYER

a prayer for a funeral

From Matthew 6:9-13, where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray.

King James Version (Traditional)

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. for ever and ever.
Amen.

English Standard Version (Contemporary)

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Amen.

3. I CORINTHIANS 15:51-57

a prayer for a funeral

Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality.

And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. PSALM 27:1, 3-5

a prayer for a funeral

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear:
Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after;
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion:
In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me;
He shall set me up upon a rock.

5. ECCLESIASTES 3:1-8

a prayer for a funeral

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.

6. II TIMOTHY 2:11-13

a prayer for a funeral

This saying is trustworthy:
If we have died with him we shall also live with him;
If we persevere we shall also reign with him.
But if we deny him he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful he remains faithful,
For he cannot deny himself.

7. THE RESURRECTION PRAYER

a prayer for a funeral

This is an ancient burial prayer taken from multiple Scripture passages. Traditional and anonymous, it is included here because it is simply the words of the Bible in prayer form.

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. John 11:25-26
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger. Job 19:25-27
For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For if we live, we live unto the Lord. and if we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:7-8
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors. Revelation 14:13

8. THE BEATITUDES

a prayer for a funeral

From Matthew 5:3-12, where Jesus pronounced this series of blessings for the encouragement of the saints.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

9. PSALM 116

a prayer for a funeral

I love the Lord, because He has heard
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

The pains of death surrounded me,
And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;
I found trouble and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
I believed, therefore I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
I said in my haste,
“All men are liars.”

What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.

O Lord, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord.

I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people,
In the courts of the Lord’s house,
In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

10. PSALM 121

a prayer for a funeral

I lift up my eyes to the hills;
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
The Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip;
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Indeed, He who watches over Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you.
The Lord is your shade at your right hand;
The sun will not harm you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm.
He will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
Both now and forever more.

ADDITIONAL PASSAGES

Here are some additional biblical funeral prayer Scripture passages ideal for reading or prayer at a funeral.

  • Psalm 32
  • Psalm 34
  • Psalm 46
  • Psalm 130
  • Matthew 11:25-30
  • John 5:24-29
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  • 1 John 3:1-2

EXAMPLE OF CORPORATE CALL-AND-RESPONSE PRAYER

Here is an example of how to do a corporate prayer (where everyone recites the words of the prayer together) in a call-and-response style. From I Corinthians 15:51-57.

Leader

Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.

All

For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

Leader

For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

All

“Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”

Leader

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

All

But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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a prayer for a funeral

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Dear Jesus,

How remarkable it is to have a savior who weeps with me.

Back when I was in elementary school, I loved John 11:35 for its brevity. “Jesus wept.” My friends and I would giggle, pleased that we had discovered the second-shortest verse in the Bible. (The shortest verse, as we gleefully reminded each other, was Job 3:2, “He said.”) I didn’t pay much attention to the context of John 11: the story of how You were en route to the tomb of Your friend Lazarus, in the company of Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha, mere days after Lazarus’ death. I didn’t dwell long on the significance of Your tears.

How different that verse looks to me today. Today, as I see the casket topped with flowers that blur at the edges because my eyes go damp every time I look in their direction. Today, as pastors and friends and family members speak about my loved one using the past tense instead of the present. Today, as the words of the hymns catch in my throat and render me mute. Today, as the hope I still hold to be true collides with the waves of sorrow suffocating me.

Today, “Jesus wept” means everything to me.

a prayer for a funeral

Today, I remember that You wept because someone dear to You and dear to people You loved had died. Even though You already knew the end of the story—even though You knew that death wouldn’t have the final word—still You wept. You didn’t stand aloof, offering textbook reassurances and condescending pats on the head. You heard the stories, clutched the shaking hands, walked to the tomb, and shed tears of your own. You grieved the loss, and You grieved with those who felt that same stinging loss.

Today, Jesus, I am thankful to worship a God who became human enough to weep with me.

I believe that the world wasn’t made for death and loss. I can feel by the cavern in my chest that something is wrong, that this aching sorrow isn’t the way things were supposed to be. And yet I also believe that You, Jesus, are in the business of restoring what has gone wrong. I believe that death won’t get the last word because You’ve already crushed it and declared the power of resurrection over everyone who will receive it.

I believe that this story, like the story of Lazarus, ends in victory. I don’t grieve like someone without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), because I anticipate new life on the other side of the clouds. And I want to celebrate for brothers and sisters who get there ahead of me, the saints who have sprinted past me into Your throne room. I want to take delight in their delight. Their pain is gone, their needs met, their sorrows overturned, and that thought alone makes me weep for joy.

But knowing the end of the story, knowing the good that’s coming and has already come, doesn’t erase the heartbreak for the meantime. Today, I cry tears that mean a hundred things at once, happy and sorrowful and desperate and hopeful. I trust You to sort them out as You catch them, to hear and answer each prayer they represent.

I cry for those of us left behind, for the lonely ones with hollows in our hearts. I ask You to comfort us, give peace, restore hope, and lavish us with love, family, and belonging. In the depths of loss, meet us with Yourself. 

I cry for the legacy this loved one leaves, for the ways the world has been made different by their presence, for the memories that become both more beautiful and more painful on this side of death. And I pray that the work You have accomplished in this remarkable life will grow deeper, wider, and stronger in the days to come, uninhibited by a weak opponent like death.

I cry for those who haven’t yet accepted Your invitation into eternal life, for those who grieve without hope today. I pray for awakening in their hearts, for a stirring that draws to You. I pray for more attendees at the grand reunion scheduled in the coming eternity.

I cry for all the ways the world has gone wrong, and for all the ways You’re making it right again. I ask that You make me part of Your work in bringing the kingdom of heaven to earth.

I cry knowing You are here with me. And because You are here, even my tears have meaning.

Gregory Coles is the author of Single, Gay, Christian and an English instructor at Penn State University. Learn more at www.gregorycoles.com or follow him on Facebook.

Photo courtesy: Unsplash.com

www.crosswalk.com

Losing a loved one brings many emotions out of us all. Sometimes it also leaves many unanswered questions. Death is never an easy experience to witness and to grieve through. We all have had trials through watching loved ones die. I had 3 dear friends killed by a drunk driver 5 years ago. The 2 little kids were only 3 years old and 11 months old. Death is not an easy process to work through and if you need prayer, please comment below and I will pray for you! I am using the names John and Jane as the people who have passed in these 6 prayers. One prayer, labeled below, is for personal time and the other 5 can be prayed at the funeral services.

No more Laboring

“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” (Revelation 14:13)

Father in Heaven,

I thank You for my brother John. His years of service for the kingdom impacted all of us in such a wonderful way. He gave money to the needy. He spent time visiting the elderly in the nursing homes. He went on missions trips. He loved his wife like Christ loves the church! Father, this is such a bittersweet time for us all. John’s faith was so evident in how he lived his life. He was the type of man that would lay his life down for any one of his friends, and Father, he has a lot of friends. We all love and miss him dearly, but we know that he is in a much better place, walking down the streets of Heaven and with Jesus. Lord, we are thankful for our brother and we anticipate seeing him again in Glory. May Your Name be praised always! We love and thank You for our brother, John. Amen

No Vacancy

“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

Blessed Lord,

We thank You for our dear sister, Jane. She could sing even sweeter than the birds. She was such a blessing to our church family and the surrounding community. Father, we know she is singing to You right now in Heaven, and what a wonderful time it must be! Father her favorite song was “When We All Get To Heaven” and I have to say that there is not a time more fitting than to recite the chorus of this song right now. “When we all get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” Father, she is singing and shouting the victory right now and we join her from here on earth. You have prepared a room for her, Lord, and now she will dwell with You forever and ever. We thank You for our dear sister, Jane. We love You, Father! Amen

Hopelessness

(This prayer is for personal time and not at the funeral service)

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Oh Lord,

I am dying inside! Why didn’t John seek You? Why didn’t he search for You? I don’t know how to move on from this. I loved John more than anyone and I cannot picture Heaven without him and yet it is. My thoughts are plaguing me day and night! He chose to live for himself and now to think about where his eternity is, is killing me! There is nothing I can do and I am helpless, Lord. I need You now more than ever, Father, to help me through this painful time. How do I move on knowing these things, Lord? Please, comfort and guide me through this chaotic time of life. I miss John, Father. I love You, Lord! Amen

This Is Painful

“The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

Father in Heaven,

We lift up the family and friends of our friend, Jane. Lord, only You know her heart. We are all praying that she accepted Jesus before passing away. Lord, we will never know until we ourselves leave this earth, and so we pray for You to draw near to us. We are all broken over this. We need Your touch right now, Father. Wrap Your arms around the family of this woman and give them a peace that only You can give. May they seek You daily for comfort, support and love as they tarry through this time of grief. We praise You for sending us Jesus to die for our sins and we thank You that You loved us enough to do so. We ask and pray all of these things in Your Name. Amen

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes…

It Is Finished

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)

Merciful Father,

The passing of our dear friend and sister, Jane, is bittersweet. Lord, she suffered so long in the hospital battling against cancer. Lord, she was more of an encouragement to us at times. I remember visiting her and reminiscing about when we were younger. The good times we had will never be forgotten, Father. I prayed over her in that hospital room and we both felt Your presence with us. Lord, we all knew the outcome was not good, and yet, anyone who came to visit her would think the opposite. Jane still smiled with joy at each visitor. She was such an encouragement to us all. She walked and talked what she believed, Lord. Jesus lived in her heart and soul and we are so happy that she will never shed another tear again over cancer. Lord, while close friends and family are still crying and grieving over our dear sister, I pray that You draw close to us all and comfort us in the loss of this amazing woman. We love You, Lord! Amen

Unexpected Loss

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4a)

Father,

We are grieving over the unexpected loss of our brother, John. Lord, just last Sunday he was telling me how excited he was to be part of this church. He was on fire for You, Father. We all saw how joy radiated from him. His love for You was unquenchable and we are mourning the loss of this wonderful man. Father, be with his wife and young children. Raise this congregation up to be the hands and feet of Jesus to this family. Father, love on John’s children. Wrap Your arms around them, for there will be a day when they see him again in Heaven. Father, speak tenderly to his wife and comfort her in this unbearable time of life. Father, this is a very tragic event and yet we know that nothing surprises You. So, in faith we continue to ask and seek Your will in this most desperate time of need. Father, shower this family with love and affection as they grieve through this painful time. We love You, and thank You for Jesus! Amen

Conclusion

If you are mourning the loss of a loved one, please feel free to comment below and I will pray for you. Death is not an easy thing to process and we all can use prayer and support from one another. God is with you! May God continue to bless you as you live a life worthy of the calling.

Take a look at this article that might be of interest to you:

What Does the Bible Say About Death

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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