If you recently lost a loved one, you’re probably spending a lot of time learning how to plan a funeral. You and your family will be making many decisions within the next few days. And if you’re loved one didn’t make funeral arrangements before they passed this can be a trying time.
What readings and prayers to include in your service can be difficult to decide. There are funeral scriptures, poems, and song lyrics to choose from. You may also be searching for closing prayers or benedictions for the end of your loved one’s funeral service. Here is a list of prayers and benedictions from a variety of faith communities that could end your service.
Tip: Choosing readings and prayers for a funeral is just a small part of the post-death process. If you need help with other details, from legal and financial matters to grief, our post-loss checklist can help.
1. “Sending Prayer” from a Lutheran Funeral Liturgy
This is a common prayer an officiant might say at the end of a Luthern funeral.
It begins, “Let us commend ________ to the mercy of God, our maker and redeemer, into your hands. O merciful Savior, we commend your servant ____________ . Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming.”
The prayer continues and asks that the deceased be granted everlasting peace.
COVID-19 tip: If you chose to use a virtual funeral using a service like GatheringUs, you can still recite prayers with your online guests. Coordinate with your planning team and ensure you have the right mics and speakers.
2. “Salat al-Janazah” from Islam
This prayer is part of the funeral ritual for a member of the Muslim faith. In this prayer, the congregation asks that the sins of all deceased Muslims be forgiven.
The prayer begins, "O God, forgive our living and our dead, those who are present among us and those who are absent, our young and our old, our males and our females. O God, whoever You keep alive, keep him alive in Islam, and whoever you cause to die, cause him to die with faith. O God, do not deprive us of the reward and do not cause us to go astray after this.”
The prayer continues and asks that the deceased be given a “home better than his home, and a family better than his family” in the afterlife.
3. “Kel Maleh Rachamim” from Judaism
This prayer is also referred to as a Prayer of Mercy.
This Jewish funeral prayer reads (in part): “G--, full of mercy, who dwells in the heights, provide a sure rest upon the Divine Presence's wings. Therefore, the Master of Mercy will protect him forever, from behind the hiding of his wings, and will tie his soul with the rope of life. The Everlasting is his heritage, and he shall rest peacefully upon his lying place, and let us say Amen.”
4. “Graveside Prayers” from the Catholic Church
This prayer starts by acknowledging Jesus’ death and resurrection. It then goes on to ask God to help the deceased rest in peace.
Here is the full text: “Lord Jesus Christ, by your own three days in the tomb, you hallowed the graves of all who believe in you and so made the grave a sign of hope that promises resurrection even as it claims our mortal bodies.
Grant that our brother/sister, ______, may sleep here in peace until you awaken him/her to glory, for you are the resurrection and the life. Then he/she will see you face to face and in your light will see the light and know the splendor of God, for you live and reign forever and ever. Amen.”
5. “Burial II” from the Episcopal Church
This prayer is in The Book of Common Prayer.
Here is the full text: “The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant: Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight; through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
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6. “Buddhist Prayer for Peace” from Buddhism
This prayer is used within the Buddhist tradition for many situations including funerals.
The full text reads: “May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind quickly be freed from their illnesses. May those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free. May the powerless find power, and may people think of befriending one another May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wilderness - the children, the aged, the unprotected - be guarded by beneficial celestials, and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood.”
7. “Benediction Prayer” from the Christian Church
Although this prayer is not always used at the end of funerals, it is common to hear at the end of a church service. It is very appropriate for a funeral, as it asks God to give the mourners peace.
Here is the full text: “May the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
The text is from the book of Numbers.
8. “Final Prayer” from The Church of England
An officiant can use this prayer at the end of a funeral service. Although it was written by a member of the Church of England, it could be used for any Christian burial service.
Here is the full text: “God our Father, by raising Christ your Son, you destroyed the power of death and opened for us the way to eternal life. As we remember before you, our brother/sister _________, we ask your help for all who shall gather in his/her memory. Grant us the assurance of your presence and grace by the Spirit you have given us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
9. “Funeral Prayer” from the Methodist Church
One can easily find the full text for a Methodist funeral online.
Part of their closing includes this prayer: “Eternal God, we praise you for the great company of all those who have finished their course in faith and now rest from their labor. We praise you for those dear to us whom we name in our hearts before you. Especially we praise you for _____, whom you have graciously received into your presence. To all of these, grant your peace. Let perpetual light shine upon them; and help us so to believe where we have not seen, that your presence may lead us through our years, and bring us at last with them into the joy of your home not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
10. “Funeral Prayer” from the Mennonite Church
You may consider using this simply-written poem from the Mennonite Church. It speaks about a Christian’s hope for eternal life.
It says, in part: “Our loving and eternal God, the One who knows our heart and from whom no secret is hidden. We come before You with all the sorrow and pain that is in our hearts today. For we have loved _________ and we will miss her/him. We bring our grief, our sense of loss before you. We also come before you with a sense of hope and expectation . . . ”
11. “Kaddish Prayer” from Judaism
Kaddish refers to prayers regularly recited during a service. But it can also refer to specific prayers said for the dead.
Here is an example of one you may use in your loved one’s service: “May His great name be kept magnified and sanctified in the world that is to be created anew, where He will revive the dead, and raise them up to eternal life; and rebuild the city of Jerusalem; and establish His Temple in its midst; and uproot alien worship from the earth and restore the worship of Heaven to its place. May the Holy One, blessed be He, reign in His sovereignty and glory, during your life ring your days.”
12. “Mourner’s Prayer” from the Catholic Church
Finally, this brief prayer is one to use when saying your final goodbyes to your loved one.
Here is the full text: “O God, by whose mercy the faithful departed find rest, send your holy Angel to watch over this grave. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
For many Christians, prayer is a more fluid experience than the prayers above might make it seem. Instead of reading prayers, many Christian officiants will instead offer up prayers off the cuff. That practice can make it difficult to find prayers suitable for your service. And it could be why you can’t find many non-denominational Christian funeral prayers.
If you are planning your funeral, try to share what prayers you would like said at the service. In fact, share all your preferences, so your family can easily plan a service for you. Planning ahead of time means your family will be able to grieve without stress. They will be able to focus on remembering and honoring you, rather than worrying about the details of your service. It is a kindness you can extend to them even after death.