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.
Prayers for the Dying – Overcoming the Fear
Are you intimidated to offer prayers for the dying? Death is close at hand and you are there to bring comfort. Can you do it? Do you know how? The very fear you have and the grief you feel is also in the heart and mind of the one who is facing death. Don’t fight that, but embrace it and share it. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” As you mourn with someone who is dying or with someone who’s experiencing the death of someone close to them — you give them comfort, you uplift, you are blessed because you are blessing someone else, and you too will experience comfort.
Prayers for the Dying – Clinging to Life
As you offer prayers for the dying, you may see a struggle in their spirit to live. The health of our spirit is interestingly tied to our struggle to cling to life. The sick and the weak, those with little left to hang onto in the physical realm; will still cling to their life when their spirit is strong. Fighting a fight that seems like a losing battle; the dying will take any kind of quality of life that is offered them.
What are they truly clinging to? What is life? Jesus said He is life (John 14:6); He gives life abundantly or to the full (John 10:10); He said that His words are spirit and they are life and that the flesh is of no avail (John 6:63); and He promises that all who believe in Him have eternal life (John 6:47). The life that we truly cling to and struggle to have is found in Jesus right now; and is fulfilled just beyond the horror of death.
Death comes when the struggle to cling to the flesh gives way. The dying will come to accept the journey that their spirit needs to take. And Jesus knows that journey. He went through it. He conquered it for you and for me (John 11:25). Jesus alone is the judge of who inherits eternal life. So leave it in His loving, righteous, gracious, and worthy hands.
Prayers for the Dying – Offering Hope
There is hope and good news that you can offer in your prayers for the dying. The good news is that death is now swallowed up in victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-57). We have hope because of Jesus! The return of Jesus to gather His people to Himself and the promise of eternal life is our hope. The Bible often reminds us of how we should long for its coming and cling to its promise to keep us going when life is difficult. For the believer, death is the gateway into the promise of eternal life as we shed our earthly bodies to enter into the presence of God (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).
”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:3-9, ESV)
Offer this hope to the dying so they can find peace. Jesus will meet them right in their moment of death just as He did the thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43. Our faith comes up against the fear of death and brings comfort and even joy.
”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
Prayers for the Dying – A Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, With heavy hearts we come to You. You are Almighty Creator God; holy and full of grace and love. Our hearts are heavy because of a life that is leaving us. Death engulfs us Lord. Fear is waiting to take us down. Thank You Father, that because of Jesus, You know our pain and sorrow intimately. Thank You that Jesus knows the way through this dark shadow. Take the hand of our dear sister/brother and make Yourself known. Guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Keep that which is Your own and take it into eternity to be with You. In Jesus, death is but a shadow. Jesus has swallowed up its sorrows and pain. Thank You Jesus for the cross. Thank You Jesus for the resurrection. Lord, we are before You, confessing that You are Lord of all; the gate keeper to eternal life. Your grace and love abound even as our sin seems ever increasing. Take our hands Lord and lead us through. We lay our fears at your feet. Your promise is that You — and You alone — will come to take us home. As it says in Psalm 23:4: “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” (ESV).
Thank you for the comfort we find in Your presence. Through the Holy Spirit we know Your presence is with us. Send us Your peace Lord; the peace that passes all understanding. Don’t let us waiver and doubt. Give us a faith that is everlasting. We release our lives into Your hands. As we wait and watch, we know Lord that none of us will escape this journey through death. Teach us how to embrace it with faith. Give us strength to hold up those who are stepping closer to seeing You face to face. Take away the fear in the heart of our loved one who will soon see You; let them find peace in Your grace, comfort in Your love, and strength in Your mighty power over death. Comfort us as our grief seems to over power us.
You are a good, just, righteous, and loving Father. Don’t let us grow bitter in this shadow of death. But pierce our hearts with a joy that we can not fathom or understand. A joy that is above all that is corrupted here on earth. Jesus you wept over death and so too, we weep. But it is a grief and a mourning that holds joy on the other side. You are conqueror of all; and so we trust You. We trust that You will do what is right, what is loving. Whether in death or in life Your will is accomplished and You are sovereign. May we know Your presence, Lord. Keep us ever aware of Your loving hand guiding us through all things. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
Learn More About Dealing With Death
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
– We have all
and deserve God’s judgment.
, the Father, sent His only Son to satisfy that judgment for those who believe in Him.
, the creator and eternal Son of God, who lived a sinless life, loves us so much that He
for our sins, taking the punishment that we deserve, was
rose from the dead
according to the
. If you truly believe and trust this in your heart, receiving Jesus alone as your
, declaring, “
Jesus is Lord
,” you will be saved from
and spend eternity with God in heaven.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow JesusYes, I am already a follower of JesusI still have questions
As a hospice chaplain, I have the unique opportunity of sharing very meaningful experiences with patients. My primary role is to be a listener to a patient’s life story, addressing spirituality and faith as it is welcomed by the person I serve. As I come to know a patient’s faith tradition, I offer various practices that, hopefully, enhance that patient’s connection to what he or she considers divine.
One of these practices is prayer. Since my faith tradition teaches that the only genuine faith is a freely chosen faith, I approach hospice prayers very carefully. Some patients welcome my visit, but consider prayer too personal or sacred to practice in my presence. More than a few patients have declined my praying in their presence, but express appreciation when I say, “That’s fine. I’ll keep you in my prayers.”
To patients who welcome prayer, I seek first to honor their faith tradition’s prayer practices. For example, I often say to a Roman Catholic patient, “I’m going to pray for you right now,” after which we’ll close our visit with a saying of the “Our Father.” Or when a Jewish patient has welcomed prayer, I will choose a prayer text from the Psalms in the Hebrew Bible.
Prayers for the Dying
As with many of my chaplain colleagues, I often pray extemporaneous, more conversational prayers with my patients. While my intention is to be more spontaneous in the wording of such prayers, I often use similar phrases that honor most faith traditions while resonating with my own spirituality.
The following is a typical prayer I use with most hospice patients:
“God, thank you for being with us right now. We confess that we don’t understand why things happen the way they do. We don’t understand why illness comes into our lives, but we do know that you walk every path of life with us. Remind Joe that you are walking with him right now. Remind Joe that you love him, no matter what he is going through. I also pray for Joe’s family. Give them your strength as they care for Joe. God, we thank you that you never leave us, that you never forsake us, but you love us. We trust you, and pray this in your name. Amen.”
The above prayer has some key thoughts that I hope my hospice patient will hear:
- God is always present with us, even when we may not be experiencing that presence.
- As a chaplain, I don’t pretend to have the answers. I join with my patient in asking the “whys.”
- God is with my hospice patient, especially in suffering.
- Caregivers also experience God’s presence in caring for their loved one.
- I affirm my personal trust in God even when none of us have the answers.
It goes without saying that extemporaneous prayers often reflect who we are and open us up to our patients. It is my hope that the hospice patients I am privileged to serve hear who I am and what I believe when I pray for them.
My desire is that they may experience God with them when they allow me to pray.
Barry Pennington, DMin, BCC
Crossroads Hospice & Palliative Care provides complimentary grief recovery groups in all the communities we serve. Please call us at 1-888-564-3405 to learn more about our grief support program.
The Seven Commandments of Spiritual Care
How to Say Goodbye to Someone Who Is Dying
Is Dying Easier for the Faithful?
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What do you say to someone who is dying? What words of comfort for the dying can you offer? And especially, how do we offer prayers for the dying?A parent of friends of mine is currently in our local hospice. It’s sad to see that his deterioration has come so rapidly and particularly in that he has so clearly been fighting for survival. On Saturday, he was unconscious and it was thought that he would soon pass. But on Sunday morning, he was chatting with his wife and hospice staff. This is not unusual.It’s a common occurrence to see people in the final hours of their lives, moving between a peaceful calm and an anxious state. There is clearly a struggle in their spirit to live. And it’s a fact that the strength of that spirit is undeniably tied to their struggle to remain on this earthly plain. Even though their physical bodies are failing and damaged beyond our ability to repair, the powerful spirit within that individual – that deep instinct to protect our human shell, fights to accept any kind of quality of life that is offered them.Death is that moment of passing that comes as the spirit acknowledges that these mortal remains are no longer able to sustain its presence. And it is okay to acknowledge this, to accept it as yet another part of our journey. In fact, this is where the presence of family, friends and carers can often help most, with their words of comfort and prayers. The dying will come to accept the new journey that their spirit needs to take.If you’re a family member, speak of the happy times you’ve shared together, the celebrations you’ve had, the joys you’ve experienced together and never forget to share how much you love them. Acknowledge that this is just an interval in time and that you will all be together again soon.If you’ve had a spirited relationship with the person who’s dying, acknowledge that you’ve had your ‘ups and downs,’ but reaffirm the power of that love and ask them to forgive any transgression there may have been. Please, do not use this time to be accusatory or stating what your wishes may have been. This time is long past and by your presence and giving of yourself; you are providing the greatest blessing you could ever imagine – for both of you.One of the greatest gifts you can provide, whether you’re a family member, friend, or professional carer is the gift of touch. Even when words can no longer be spoken, the gift of touch is a potent form of spiritual communication. I often rub the hands or feet of someone who is in transition. There are times when I stroke their hair. These gentle acts are no different than the loving embrace we receive as we come into this world.And of course, there’s the power of prayer. Never underestimate the strength of that communication. As you offer your supplications, not only does God hear, but the living spiritual being you’re praying for hears as well. Acknowledging that it’s okay to let go, that there is life beyond is a form of blessing. And indeed, you too will be blessed.