, CP Guest Contributor
| Friday, January 23, 2009
More than likely, you’ll have the opportunity to minister to someone who is dying this year. The question is, how do you deal with it? I’m ready to die. More than likely, you are too. Most people are not, though. That means you play a critical role as a minister to help people deal with their own death.
Pastor, no matter how much training you’ve had or how well you know your Bible, walking into the hospital room of someone who is facing death can turn anyone to mush. What do we say? How do we help somebody who’s dying? You can’t promise that they’re going to get well. You don’t know if that’s God’s plan. But you can C.O.M.F.O.R.T. them.
Confront your own fears.
Before you can help anybody else, you’ve got to deal with your own fears. Death exposes the hidden fears in us. That’s why people avoid funerals. We’re afraid of death. And so we want to hide from it. This is as old as Adam and Eve.
Instead of hiding you have to confront those fears. You’re not going to mess anything up. You aren’t going to make things worse. You’re going to be O.K. Before you minister to someone who is dying, deal with the very natural fear you have. Admit you have the fear. And then get over it. You’ll be fine.
Offer your physical presence.
The greatest gift that you can give to someone who is dying is your presence. You just need to show up and be with them. That will mean more than any words you can say. People want someone to be near them as they deal with the dying process.
People do not want to face death alone. And they shouldn’t have to. You don’t need to say anything profound. You may not even talk to them. But you need to be there with them. Real ministry begins by being with the person who is dying. No one should ever die alone.
Minister with practical assistance.
The important question to ask is, “How can I help?” You do whatever they need done. I know you’re busy. But ministering to someone who is dying is some of the most important ministry you can do.
For example, when somebody’s dying, they usually don’t feel well. They’re often in pain. What do you do when somebody’s in that situation? Whatever you can do. You want the lights on? You want the lights off? Can I get you some ice chips? Can I rub your back? You do anything. The little things you do will show love. You offer practical assistance to relieve pain and discomfort.
Fortify them with emotional support.
When someone is dying, they’re carrying a heavy burden. Don’t let them carry it alone. Provide emotional support. How do you carry somebody else’s emotional burden? Pray for them aloud.
How do you pray for them? Whatever they say, mirror it back to them in a prayer. When the person who is dying says, “This really frustrates me…” You pray, “Lord, Susie’s really frustrated by this…” When the person says, “I’m really angry and irritated,” you pray, “God, Bob is really having a tough time right now. He’s upset and angry. He’s frustrated.”
When you do that, you’re lifting their burdens. When somebody is sick, sometimes they just don’t have enough energy to pray. So you pray for them. That’s what intercession is all about.
Open them up with questions.
When people are dying, they’re carrying an enormous emotional load. They’re carrying worry, fear, doubt, shame, guilt, regret, joy, sorrow, and anxiety. Help them get that out. How? Ask open-ended questions they can’t answer with just “yes” or “no.”
Your open-ended questions will often start with their questions. Let me give you three of them that are almost always asked in some manner by a person who is dying: Why me? Why now? Why this? Nobody knows the answers to those three questions. They are unanswerable on this side of eternity. The Bible tells us that in eternity we will see how it all fits together. But we don’t right now.
Whenever you get asked a question that is unanswerable, ask it back to them. Just rephrase it. Why? You don’t want to answer the question. You want to get them talking.
For example, if someone who is dying asks, “Am I going to die?” Don’t answer that question. You don’t know for sure. Rephrase the question back to them and ask something like this: What does dying mean to you? Then wait. That will get them talking and help them talk about some things that they need to talk about.
By the way, if they don’t want to talk about death, that’s O.K. Some people don’t want to talk about it. It’s not good for them to bottle it up, but don’t force them to talk.
Remember the family has needs too.
You can be helpful to the whole family – not just to the person who is dying. For example, you can ask questions that the family might feel uncomfortable asking. It’s perfectly O.K. to ask the dying person if they’ve made any preparations for their death. Somebody’s got to find that out, and you’d help the family by asking. Friends take care of friends, and they take care of friends’ family as well.
Turn them to Jesus.
More than anything else, you want the dying person to accept God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. You want them to be at peace with God.
Tell the dying person that Jesus loves them, that he died for them, that they can spend eternity with him, and that you’d be glad to pray with them about this.
It’s the most important prayer the person will ever pray – one that turns death to life.
By Brad Andres
Praying with the dying can be an intimidating thing. The time nearing death can be a very stressful and scary time for families and friends of the ill.
Let’s go over some of the basics of praying for someone who is nearing death. We’ve also included some sample prayers for the dying below to help guide you through this process.
If you do not know the individual, then spend some time getting to know them as a person. Ask them about their family, about their life. Find out what they are proud of, ask if they have any regrets. Discover what they believe the afterlife is going to be like.
(Read Bible Verses about Death, and Bible Verses about Heaven)
Once a rapport is established, albeit however small, then you can move onto the praying part. People need to know you care about them before you pray for them, and taking the time to ask about their life is one way to do that.
Therefore, following establishing a relationship, here are a few things to remember which will help guide you when saying prayers for the ill.
1. Do they know Jesus?
This is the most important question which you need to answer before praying with someone as they are about to pass onto the next life. If they do not know Jesus, you need to introduce them to each other as soon as possible.
In all actuality, if they do not know Jesus, then there is not much point in progressing further. Yes, you will still pray with them, for God’s comfort, peace, and rest, but if they are not going to inherit the free gift of eternal life, then what is the point? The point of praying those things is that maybe something will click, possibly the Lord could grab ahold of their hearts before death, and they may encounter Jesus before their passing. And besides, it is just courteous to bless someone in their dark hours of life.
Prayer To Know Jesus Before Dying
Come into my life.
I believe you died and rose from the grave.
I believe you live eternally in heaven.
Cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
Forgive me of all my sins.
Move into my heart.
I make you my Lord and Savior.
Thank you for your sacrifice.
I accept your gift of eternal salvation.
2. Pray for God’s peace.
Death can be frightening for some, and for others, death can be completely natural. Some who know Christ will face death fearlessly, while some others will be terrified. The same goes for those who are not in a relationship with Christ; some will be unafraid and some will be frightened.
As stated earlier, it will be good practice to pray for God’s comfort and peace regardless of that person’s level of relationship with Jesus.
A Comforting Prayer for the Dying
Help discover your peace.
Let them receive your comfort.
Help them to be at rest knowing that you care for them,
and that you love them.
Calm their soul as they move into the afterlife.
May they spend eternity with you;
may they live forever in your presence.
3. Pray for the Family
Just as death may be hard or easy for an individual, so can it be the same for any remaining family or friends. Sometimes when you have the opportunity to pray with the dying, you will be alone. Othertimes, family and friends will be present. Regardless, even if you pray this as you leave, it is still thoughtful to pray for those who will be mourning the person’s passing.
A Prayer for the Family of the Dying
Bring this family peace.
Provide them with your comfort.
Let them know you tenderly care for each and every one of them.
Lead them to be reunited with their loved one some day.
Sit with them in their mourning.
Let your presence provide rest.
Thank you, for the gift of life that brought to the world.
May he rest peacefully with you for eternity.
A final note to remember is that this time is an emotional and stressful time for all associated with the dying person. Therefore, you may be given a chance to pray, and you may not be given a chance to pray. Remember to respect all people’s wishes, and know that as you walk with God into the room, you are inviting His presence into the situation. If you pray these prayers on your way back home alone, it still carries power to allow God into the situation.
And we will finish with my prayer for you.
A Prayer for Those Going to Pray with the Dying
Give this person strength.
Grant this person confidence.
Allow them the opportunity to discover if the passing person knows you.
Give them wisdom to know when to speak and what to say.
Let them bring your presence into the room.
Let them carry your love into the situation.
Encourage them with a special gift or your presence.
If you’d like to submit a prayer request for someone who is ill, please do so below.
Brand Andres is a licensed minister and his passion is to help people understand the Bible and maximize
their God given potential for life.
Find him at BradAndres.com, and follow him on Twitter and Google.
What do you say to a person that is dying? What about someone who is dying without Christ? What I would say to a person who is dying in the faith of Jesus Christ is quite different that what I would say to a person that is dying and does not believe in Him. My first thought of someone who is dying without Jesus Christ is that they will be forever separated from God with no second chance of reconciliation. That the person who dies without Christ will be cut off from God for eternity is something that rends my heart. I have had experiences with both.
What to Say to a Person Dying Without Christ
I would ask them if they have ever heard about Jesus. What do they think about Him? Do they believe in God? What do they believe will happen to them after they die? Where would a person spend eternity after death? These are sobering questions that are very serious. I would never shy away from asking a person who may not have long to live these questions. There eternal destiny is at stake. The fact is that no one who is without Christ has any guarantee that they will live beyond tonight. They could die in their sleep. They could die tomorrow in an accident. I certainly would hope that they would not but the Bible says that there is a day of judgment coming. Whether they believe it or not does not change the reality of this fact.
Hebrews 9:27 actually says that we have a day that God has appointed for us to die, saying “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” God has actually given each human being a set number of days to live. Psalm 139:16 makes this clear, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Ecclesiastes 3:2a clearly indicates that there is “a time to be born and a time to die.”
The only thing that you can say to someone who does not know Christ and is dying is to reveal to them that they will spend eternity somewhere. You can tell them that if they have lost any loved ones who were believers, they are now safely in the bosom of Jesus. This is nothing more certain than death and nothing more sure than Jesus Christ’s free offer of salvation through belief in Him. He came to earth to live a perfect life, leaving His glory in heaven. He came to have God place His holy wrath on Him in our place so that we might be able to spend eternity with Him. That is His desire. God keeps His promises and if you believe in Him, He will never leave you nor forsake you even after death (Heb 13:5). Second Peter 3:9 reveals that “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Knowing that He doesn’t want anyone to perish without Him, if you will place your trust in Him, He will give you saving faith.
Here is all that is involved.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9).
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
How to Pray With the Dying: 5 Helpful Tips
Tip Number One- Read and Quote The Bible
The Scriptures above are great to read again and to ensure them that since they believe in Him and all the promises that Jesus has made, then they have no worries after the die. You will most likely have to read them back to them but they may want to do this themselves. Leave it up to them, even if this means that they don’t want them read back to them. Respect their rights. Do as they say. If they profess these beliefs then we can know that they already have eternal life. John 6:54 says “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood (become a believer and participated in Communion) has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” Of course if they haven’t had a chance to be baptized or to have Communion, I try to reassure them that God is faithful and will not suffer us to remain in the grave if we believe in Him (John 3:16). There is real power in the Word of God so I try to use this power. In fact, the verses above contain the very power of God. The power is actually in the gospel as Paul says in Romans 1:16b, “because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
Tip Number Two- Comfort Them
I have experienced this situation and it is such an amazing thing being with a saint that is near death and with their having the full assurance of faith in Christ. This is somewhat easier in the sense that you can provide comfort with the surety of God’s promises from His inerrant Word. It is always good to have a person reaffirm their beliefs. The certainty of the promises of God can provide peace and comfort knowing that those who die in Christ will be absent from the body but will be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8).
Tip Number Three- Pray With Them
Pray with them. For me, I have been moved to tears…and that’s okay. It is completely natural. They may cry as well. There is healing in tears. It is highly likely that they have endured great suffering up to this point and that great day with the Lord is something to eagerly anticipate.
Now this is just my own personal preference and of course, you can use your own methods and words, but I love praying back some of God’s promises. You may have special verses or a prayer from the Bible that you use, but I love using the Word of God in prayer because God loves it when we pray back His promises. The Psalms for example are full of hope-filled assurances that we can count on. So here is my own personal prayer using Scriptures that I love but I don‘t include chapter and verse:
“Oh Righteous Father, we know our days are numbered in your book of life and that precious in your sight are the death of your saints. We are so thankful that we can stand on your promises and know that when we die, we are instantly in your holy presence. All of those who have gone before us, beloved friends and family, are there waiting for us. We know that death can not hold us because just as Jesus died and was resurrected, we too know that we also will be raised to eternal life. There is such peace in knowing that there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, and no more pain. What great and precious promises you have given us. We know that nothing can ever separate us from your love. No one or nothing can snatch us out of Your mighty hands. Blessed Lord, please be with in this time and with his/her family; to comfort, strengthen, and encourage them during the coming difficult days and times ahead. We pray that Your tender mercies be upon now. I thank God for and the faithfulness that he/she has shown in their life. has placed his/her trust and faith in You and we know that you will never leave nor forsake him/her. We thank you for your precious gift of salvation which came through the precious the blood of the lamb of God at supreme cost. Our atonement was made possible by Him and has made us one with You. We ask these things in the power, majesty, glorious, and most holy name of our Savior, King, Master, and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tip Number Four – Ask Them What They Need Help With
I ask them if they have any special considerations that I could help them with. Is there something that you want to say or write down that I can tell others? Is there something that I can do for you after you are gone? What is it that I can help you with today? If I give the eulogy and/or the memorial service, I ask them what they would like me to say. What is it that you want me to tell others? What special considerations for the service like music would you want included? Does your family know of your wishes?
Tip Number Five- Talk About Heaven
I not only like to describe where their eternal destination will be like but what their final home will be like. There are many biblical descriptions of what heaven will be like. There are some from Isaiah and some from Revelation. The glorious description of heaven is just too incredible to be told in words. Its total glory will only be revealed when we finally see it for ourselves. All of our beloved family and friends will be there to greet us. All of the heartaches and pains will be a thing of the past. What a wonderful eternity this will be. It is the final joy of our eternal inheritance. Jesus said that He has reserved a place for us. And of course we can fall into the arms of our Savior. We will fall as His feet and worship Him forever. We have eternal life and this eternity with God will be so overwhelming that it can not be described. What joy awaits us all some great day.
Your Ticket to Heaven
No one comes to the Father (and heaven) except through Jesus Christ (John 6:44). There is no other way to gain eternal life than through the Son of God (Acts 4:12). If you are not yet a believer in Jesus Christ, I pray that you will come to saving faith today. Jesus says “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). “I will in no way caste you out” (John 6:37). Jesus says that, “You will never be snatched out of My hands nor our of My Father’s hands” (John 10:28-29). If you will only believe in Me, you can have eternal life (John3:16). That is my prayer for you this very day.
The Holy Bible, New International Version
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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