On this page you’ll find prayers for the dead; prayers for your loved ones you have lost. May their souls rest in peace.
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’ ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’” – 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
“Death may be the King of terrors, but Jesus is the King of kings!” (D.L. Moody)
Regardless of who we are; our prestige, financial, religion and belief, status, age, capabilities, gender, and much more—we have all lost loved ones. A woman losing her husband or her child. A man losing a brother (not limited by blood). As a matter of fact, even a child losing his grandparents before he is mature enough to understand the situation falls here too. He won’t understand until he grows up and witnesses the reverence/adoration laden with words when people talk about their grandparents. You miss what you lack is the major rule in this case.
“I remember when I lost my mother. The raw shock was too much and I felt paralyzed till I sank down to the floor. It took away my ability to think, breath, or even talk. A few tears later though and I was back on my feet to set an example of strength for all the younger ones. I held in all the emotions till I found myself alone after a few hours where it all shockingly came back. I felt incomplete—like someone snatched my mother from me and was refusing to give her back. With that thought, I played the guilt game: I blamed my deceased mother, father, and even God. Religion obviously seemed flimsy because even my grasp on reality was shaking”. At this point is where most individuals either lose their faith in God or become stronger in Him.
The person who gave up the part above is past ‘stronger in Him’ and I’m that person. To me, let me take a quote in one of the books I indulge in to explain my thoughts, “Death is the next great adventure”. Nonetheless, each individual death that occurs around us feels like a piece of us has gone missing and we, as instinct compels, look for it. Except, we never recover the missing part(s).
We prefer to prevent death. Still, why do you avoid your God and thus, your loved ones so? He holds the power over life and death and, whenever death claims a life, you’re taking the one and only path to your God and loved ones. It’s naturally hard as humans to accept all of this but it, like our God is the truth. Realistically, to God, the human body is just a typical mortal vessel like how a bottle contains water. While, the soul, on the other hand, is the water inside the bottle and even to us humans, water is sustenance. In other words, our souls are immortal.
Likewise the body, the world is nothing to God also. So, we dying or any of our loved ones dying is nothing to Him since we’re joining Him in eternal peace. He’s a Father who loves nothing more than to welcome His beloved home after accomplishing their part. Essentially, the whole point of this piece is that you need not think about death and worry because of your loved ones anymore.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” – John 14:3
So, no one child of the Lord should fear death.
Prayer for the soul of a mother/father
Dear Father, I thank You for taking care of my father/mother during their life on Earth. I thank You for giving them the opportunity to bring me into this world and I likewise thank You for the opportunity to have this prayer. I rejoice over the life that he/she led while alive and for the good deeds he/she accomplished. Lord God, I thusly pray for the soul of my deceased mother/father and that You take care of him/her on his/her way to Your holy Kingdom. I thank you for listening to my prayers oh Lord, Amen.
Prayer for the soul to rest in peace
We thank You Lord for the passing of our brother/sister. We exalt Your name for the good life he/she lived. We pray oh Lord, that everlasting life be given unto him or her. And as he or she abides in Your garden, let Your angels touch what he/she cannot touch again. Father, be with his/her soul and may he/she rest in perfect eternal peace. Amen
Prayer for grieving
Lord God above, we, Your humble children kneel before you today in reverence. We know You’re the greatest and You’re the king of all kings. So, we pray You uplift our heart and soul so that we may cast away our sorrows oh Lord. Give us the strength to surpass this situation. No one dies without Your say-so and thus, we rejoice over this triumph and we pray You be with our deceased brother/sister. We thank you for the answered prayer and in Jesus name, Amen.
Prayer for a brother/sister
As far as I remember, my brother/sister has been with me through all the ups and downs of life. We ate and played together, gave advice to each other and kept no secret from one another. Now, seeing as he/she is gone, I pray that he/she finds everlasting life and eternal happiness in Your powerful embrace. I pray You watch over his/her wife/husband/children/investments on Earth and let Your gaze shift not oh Lord. I thank You for this prayer session and in Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
Prayer for the dying
Oh Lord, You are the ADONAI and the one everlasting God. You made the lands and the seas and You have complete dominion over life and death. It is also by Your will that we live and die and we pray for this dying soul. If it’s Your will today for him/her to stay in this world, we rejoice in the miracle You allowed us to witness. But if You need Your beloved son/daughter with you, we pray You welcome him/her into Your bountiful bosom where he/she will rejoice for all eternity. We exalt Your name oh Lord and we glorify Your deeds in our lives. Amen.
Prayer for the departed soul(s)
As said in 1st John chapter 5—verse 15, You’re the omniscient God who we know hears all prayers. So, we pray for the soul(s) of our departed brother(s)/sister(s) that You, oh Lord may nourish and take care of him/her/them in Heaven. You encourage us to ask and that it shall be given to us and so, we’ve asked and we know our request has been given. We thank You for providing for the deceased when he/she was alive and for sheltering us—also to be present in this prayer. Amen.
Verses from the Bible
“Since the children have flesh and blood, too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil– and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrew 2:14-15)
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
“Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23)
“We want to reach the kingdom of God, but we don’t want to travel by way of death. And yet there stands Necessity saying: ‘This way, please.’ Do not hesitate, man, to go this way, when this is the way that God came to you.” (St. Augustine)
“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.” (Helen Keller)
“When the time comes for you to die, you need not be afraid, because death cannot separate you from God’s love.” (Charles H. Spurgeon)
Therefore, we see panikhidas and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial for them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose.
How important commemoration at the Liturgy is may be seen in the following occurrence: Before the uncovering of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov (1896), the priest-monk (the renowned Starets Alexis of Goloseyevsky Hermitage, of the Kiev-Caves Lavra, who died in 1916) who was conducting the re-vesting of the relics, becoming weary while sitting by the relics, dozed off and saw before him the Saint, who told him: “I thank you for laboring me. I beg you also, when you will serve the Liturgy, to commemorate my parents”—and be gave their names (Priest Nikita and Maria).** “How can you, O Saint, ask my prayers, when you yourself stand at the heavenly Throne and grant to people God’s mercy?” the priest-monk asked. “Yes, that is true,” replied St. Theodosius, “but the offering at the Liturgy is more powerful than my prayer.”
Therefore, we see panikhidas and prayer at home for the dead are beneficial for them, as are good deeds done in their memory, such as alms or contributions to the church. But especially beneficial for them is commemoration at the Divine Liturgy. There have been many appearances of the dead and other occurrences which confirm how beneficial is the commemoration of the dead. Many who died in repentance, but who were unable to manifest this while they were alive, have been freed from tortures and have obtained repose. In the Church, prayers are ever offered for the repose of the dead, and on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, in the kneeling prayers at vespers, there is even a special petition “for those in hell.”
St. Gregory the Great, in answering in his Dialogues the question, “Is there anything at all that can possibly benefit souls after death?” teaches: “The Holy Sacrifice of Christ, our saving Victim, brings great benefits to souls even after death, provided their sins (are such as) can be pardoned in the life to come. For this reason the souls of the dead sometimes beg to have Liturgies offered for them … The safer course, naturally, is to do for ourselves during life what we hope others will do for us after death. It is better to make one’s exit a free man than to seek liberty after one is in chains. We should, therefore, despise this world with all our hearts as though its glory were already spent, and offer our sacrifice of tears to God each day as we immolate His sacred Flesh and Blood. This Sacrifice alone has the power of saving the soul from eternal death, for it presents to us mystically the death of the Only-begotten Son” (Dialogues IV: 57, 60, pp. 266, 272-3).
St. Gregory gives several examples of the dead appearing to the living and asking for or thanking them for the celebration of the Liturgy for their repose; once, also, a captive whom his wife believed dead and for whom she had the Liturgy celebrated on certain days, returned from captivity and told her how he had been released from his chains on some days—the very days when the Liturgy had been offered for him. (Dialogues IV: 57, 59, pp. 267, 270).
Protestant theologians find the Church’s prayer for the dead to be somehow incompatible with the necessity of finding salvation first of all in this life: “If you can be saved by the Church after death, then why bother to struggle or find faith in this Life? Let us eat, drink, and be merry…” Of course, no one holding such a philosophy has ever attained salvation by the Church’s prayers, and it is evident that such an argument is quite artificial and even hypocritical. The Church’s prayer cannot save anyone who does not wish salvation, or who never offered any struggle for it himself during his lifetime. In a sense, one might say that the prayer of the Church or of individual Christians for a dead person is but another result of that person’s life: he would not be prayed for unless he had done something during his lifetime to inspire such prayer after his death.
St. Mark of Ephesus also discusses this question of the Church’s prayer for the dead and the improvement it brings in their state, citing the example of the prayer of St. Gregory the Dialogist for the Roman Emperor Trajan—a prayer inspired by a good deed of this pagan Emperor.
**These names had been unknown before this vision. Several years after the canonization, St. Theodosius’ own Book of Commemoration was found in the monastery where he had once been Abbot, which confirmed these names and corroborated the vision. See the Life of Elder Alexis in Pravoslavny Blagovestnik, San Francisco, 1967, No. I (in Russian).
Excerpt from The Soul after Death by Fr. Seraphim Rose
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