Some very dear friends of mine recently suffered the loss of a loved one. The loss was especially painful because it was sudden, tragic, and completely unexpected. The loss of a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, or friend is always difficult but when comes suddenly and tragically are shocked and numb. This person was an active member and an integral part of the church that I attend so our church family is just as shocked and bewildered as the family and friends. Now we feel and understand what the families and friends of those who have died from acts of violence, natural disasters, or accidents feel and have felt.
At times like these we don't know what to say or do for those suffering with grief and sorrow. If we’re honest we don't really know how or what to pray. Yes we try to remember prayers we’ve heard people pray when they’ve tried to comfort us in our grief. We try to remember the words of comfort that we’ve heard or read at memorials, funerals, and other celebrations, but nothing seems adequate. Perhaps it’s because none of those things really comforted us. We wonder why we can’t think of the words and we blame ourselves for not being able to provide that comfort, but what we’ve forgotten is that it’s not about us at all.
That’s why when I read, during my quiet time, I knew that it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me so that I could share it with my friends, my church family, and with you. We know that you can't find the words the Holy Spirit speaks through groans that we don’t understand.
Romans 8:26 NIV In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
But He also gives us words that we can understand, often through others, that express our sincere desires when we come to Him in prayer.
6 Prayers for the Dying (and the Mourning)
Design Editor, Crosswalk.com
We all will experience death one day, but that doesn't make it an easy thing to face. We can so easily fear the end of our lives, or focus our attention on things of this world instead of the glory to come in heaven, but we as believers can take comfort that God cares about our grief and Jesus understands our pain.
Like Job 14:5 says, "A man's days are numbered. You know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set." God has a specific plan for each and every one of our lives, even if we might wish for a different outcome for ourselves or our loved ones. His plans are perfect and he desires the very best for each of his beloved children. We can find great peace in the presence of our Lord, even in our grief, our fear, our pain, and our final breaths.
Here are 6 prayers for the dying and the mourning:
A Prayer for Those Who Fear Dying
You are God, and I’m not. You sent Jesus to be my Savior, so I must need to be saved. I need you to forgive the things I’ve done wrong in life. I need you to give me a fresh start in life. I need you to help me know my purpose. I want to begin a relationship with you. I ask you to come into my life. I want to learn to trust you. I want to learn to love you. I want to learn to love other people the way you want me to. So I ask you today with humility and honesty and sincerity to please save me as I put my trust in you.
I pray this prayer in Jesus’ Name. Amen
A Prayer for Funerals
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.
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.
A Prayer For All Our Tears
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.
A Prayer for When You Grieve a Lost Loved One
My heart is feels like a thousand knives are running through it. I am weary, spent, and just so sad. Please, help me! Hear my prayers. Hold me and my family up. Give us strength. Be present. Be persistent in your love. Carry us through this heartache. Sustain us. Bring us joy and hope.
In Your Name I pray, Amen.
A Prayer for Fear of the Sting of Death
As 1 Corinthians 15:54–55 says, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Where is the sting of death for the believer? It is ripped out, because at the cross, Jesus took the stinger out of death. This is a great truth. As Christians, we no longer need to fear death because our souls will live on forever with Christ.
Dear Lord, we will face many terrifying events throughout this life, but may we never forget that the ultimate victory belongs to you. Through your sacrifice, death has been defeated. As we continue to walk in your truth, help us to set our eyes on Heavenly things
A Prayer for Those in the Midst of Tragedy
Our hearts are grieving with those who are hurting, for those who have lost loved ones, for those who have suffered such great tragedy at the hands of evil. We ask that you would be their Comforter, that you would cover them with your grace and mercy, surrounding them in peace during this dark time.
We thank you that you alone are our Refuge, our Strong Tower, our Defender, and our Peace. We thank you that no matter what we face, you are still on the throne, you are still in control, and that no evil can ever stand against you. It will be defeated, it will not win. For you alone have won the final victory, and the enemy’s days are numbered.
We ask that by your mighty power, you would bring down the forces of darkness, that you would thwart the plans of all those who plot to attack and destroy, that you would draw out of darkness those souls who need to know you as Savior and Lord. We praise you for your power to set the captives free. We know that only in You do we have the hope to face dark and uncertain times. For our future is secure through the sacrifice of Christ.
Thank you God that you are surely with us…thank you that you care…thank you that your Presence is close…and that you weep with those who weep. We need you. We know and believe beyond any doubt, that your power and love will never fail.
In the Mighty Name of Jesus,
the Name Above All Names,
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.