Pastoral prayers for funerals

pastoral prayers for funerals

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.

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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

pastoral prayers for funerals

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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pastoral prayers for funerals

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Here’s a beautiful prayer of intercession and commitment.  It was written by Terri, and posted on RevGalBlogPals.

Sunday Prayer

Holy and Gracious God
We give you thanks for the gift of life
for the gift of your Son
for the gift of the Holy Spirit

Lead us through the trials

the suffering and sorrow
the challenges and struggles
the tired times and dark places

Be with those who weep

or cannot sleep
who have no peace
who seek release

Lead us

with grace
with love
with peace

Fill us

with hope
with patience
with stamina

Transform us

in your image
in your Son
in your Name

Transform us

to grow
to understand
to see

Transform us

that we
can be
made whole

And in wholeness

may we
be
the hands and heart of Christ.

Amen.

For other prayers on this blog, see the Scriptural Prayer Index at the upper right side of the page.

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Here are a few sample Pastoral Prayers. If you know of a good example of a Pastor Prayers, please share it at the bottom of this page.

Sample Pastoral Prayers

Below are several prayers for pastors to use as examples for praying with their congregation. They include prayers for guidance, healing, strength for our leaders, and overcoming life’s difficulties.

For God to Guide Us

God of light, we have heard your message, proclaimed of old, that in you there is no dark cloud at all;
nothing exists that can hide the light of your presence. Forgive us when we cling to the shadows, failing
to heed your call to wake up and join the work of your reign. Send us to do your deeds of mercy and peace:
to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, touch the sick with your healing balm, console the sorrowing,
visit the prisoners, welcome the stranger.

Guide us in this time of shadows. Keep us from despair when we see that there is no peace in our cities
and no security in our places of higher learning. Lift our eyes toward you that we may see your face
shining on us and walk in your light. Comfort with your presence those who are living in the shadow
of grief, shattered by the loss of children, parents, spouses, friends, and colleagues. Give assurance
to all who are missing loved ones that the living and the dead are in your care, certain of being
joined again in the unbroken circle that will sing your praise forever. Amen

For Overcoming Life’s Difficulties

Our gracious and loving Heavenly Father, we come to you today in the name of Jesus.
It’s good to be able to come into your house and have this time to put aside the cares of life
and the busyness of living. We’re hurrying about, planning, preparing, fixing, organizing and
worrying about how everything is going to turn out.

Even while we’re here in church those thoughts
tend to drown out your voice and what you want to say to us. We DO want to hear from you because
we need to know again and anew today that you’re there and that you know us and where we are in our
walk with you.

For some here today this present moment is filled with disappointment or impairment or heartache
and their circumstances may be dreadful and filled with reasons for sadness or sorrow, they need
you and they need us and the comfort of being in fellowship with you and with each other.
We do receive uplift and encouragement from being here in your house. Help us to be sensitive
to the needs of our brothers and sisters and speak a word of encouragement or even give a sincere
smile or handshake. We do care about each other and we want to show it.

For Our Leaders

We pray for the leaders of our nation today and the many important and critical situations they face.
Give wisdom to our president and the cabinet members and the men and women in congress. We pray for our
military personnel stationed around the world and especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan. We know they
face dangers and the possibility of death day after day.

We pray for the defeat of the insurgents and the terrorists there and around the world that are plotting
evil and wicked schemes. Please give wisdom and unusual ability to those that are working to counter these
diabolical plans. We live in a dangerous and uncertain world, but we pray for your kingdom to come and your
will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

We pray for our church and for all of our leaders as new plans and programs are finalized. We need your
guidance and your direction for us as a church. We want to be faithful to the sacred trust you’ve given to us.
It’s both a privilege and an awesome responsibility.

For Healing

There are many among us today with special needs in their own lives and need your special
touch and reassurance right now. There are numerous physical problems and we don’t understand
why these things come in our lives and we’re tempted to question you and our faith is tested,
sometimes to the limit.

We pray that their faith will not fail during these days. Some have family and relationship problems, they need special grace to see them through. Bring healing and reconciliation to them

Bible Verses for Missions

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

Want to organize a mission for your church? Check out these Bible Verses for Missions

Prayer Request: Post Your Own “Pastoral Prayers”

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If you’d like, you can post your prayer below so the PrayWithMe community can help pray with you.

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Don’t post with ALL CAPS, and try to use proper spelling and grammar.

If you can, help pray for others and post comments of support.

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