A MULTI-CULTURAL SELECTION OF PRAYERS FOR THE DYING

These pages are for anyone who wants to help another at the time of passing. We don't presume to be able to tell anyone how to pray. We also don't feel that it is proper practice to impose one's own spiritual beliefs on another who is dying. That being said, if it has been requested by the one who is dying that prayers be said, here is a list of resources to help.

If you would like to learn more about the symptoms of dying or need help with some practical techniques for how to do a prayer or reading for someone who has died or is dying, please visit prayers for the dying.

We hope to continually add to this list of prayers and if you have one to submit, please contact us!

cross christian lords prayer

The Lord's Prayer

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, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Here is a different English sense of the text, translated directly from the ancient Aramaic:

O cosmic Birther, from whom the breath of life comes, Who fills all realms of sound, light and vibration. May Your light be experienced in my utmost holiest. Your Heavenly Domain approaches. Let Your will come true in the universe (all that vibrates) just as on earth (that is material and dense). Give us wisdom (understanding, assistance) for our daily need, Detach the fetters of faults that bind us, (karma) like we let go the guilt of others. But let us be freed from that what keeps us off from our true purpose. From You comes the all-working will, the lively strength to act, the song that beautifies all and renews itself from age to age. Sealed in trust, faith and truth. (I confirm with my entire being).

On Death - Kahlil Gibran

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it 
in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day
cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death,
open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one,
even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires
lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like the seeds dreaming beneath the snow
your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams,
for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd
when he stands before the king whose hand
is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling,
that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind
and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing,
but to free the breath from its restless tides,
that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence
shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top,
then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs,
then shall you truly dance.

Tibetan Prayer - Longchenpa Rabjampa - Tibetan Nyingma master -14th century

When my time has come
and impermanence and death have caught up with me,
When the breath ceases, and the body and mind 
go their separate ways, 
May I not experience delusion, attachment, and clinging,
But remain in the natural state of ultimate reality.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that Om Mani Padme Hum,chanted aloud or silently invokes the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Infinite Compassion and that Chenrezig is the Healing Buddha. All the teachings of the Buddha are contained in this short and seemingly simple mantra, but Om Mani Padme Hum cannot really be translated into a single phrase or sentence.The mantra originated in India; as it moved from India into Tibet, the pronunciation changed because some of the sounds in the Indian Sanskrit language were hard for Tibetans to pronounce. Pronunciation is not important -- the sense of the prayer is the key to its Truth.

Tibetan Book of the Dead - Padmasambhava

Now when the bardo of dying dawns upon me,
I will abandon all grasping, yearning and attachment,
Enter undistracted into a clear awareness of the teaching,
And eject my consciousness into the space of unborn awareness;
As I leave this compound body of flesh and blood
I will know it to be a transitory illusion.

Eulogy for the Martyred Children - Martin Luther King Jr. - 1963

Now I say to you in conclusion,
life is hard,
at times as hard as crucible steel. (Mmm)
It has its bleak and difficult moments.
Like the ever-flowing waters of the river,
life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. (Yeah)
Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons,
life has the soothing warmth of its summers
and the piercing chill of its winters. (Yeah)
But if one will hold on,
he will discover that God walks with him, (Yeah. Well)
and that God is able (Yeah) 
to lift you from the fatigue of despair
to the buoyancy of hope
and transform dark and desolate valleys
into sunlit paths of inner peace. (Mmm)

Psalm 23 - Bible - Psalm of David

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.

Obligatory Readers Invocation - The American Book of the Dead - E.J. Gold

To the divine silence of unreachable endlessness;
To the divine silence of perfected knowledge;
To the divine silence of the soundless voice;
To the divine silence of the Heart of the Labyrinth;
To the divine silence of the ancient mind;
To the divine silence of the unborn guide;American Book Dead
To the divine silence of the unseen guide,
protector of all sentient life;
To the divine silence of those of perfected knowledge;
To the divine silence of human primate incarnation;
To the divine silence of the labyrinth guides
who sacrifice their liberation for those
who have not yet awakened to the truth;
To the divine silence of the Lord of Death,
the eternal unborn resident of the labyrinth
who has sacrificed his own redemption
for the redemption of all voyagers everywhere;
To the divine silence of the primordial being;
To the divine silence of the great sacrifice;
We offer homage, love and hope;
But above all, we give our gratitude.

Prayers With the Dying- Becca Clark (pastorbecca.wordpress.com)

Loving God, thank you for R (person's name)
and for the wonderful gift of her time with us.
Thank you for the joy she brings to our lives
and the lives of everyone who loves her.
Thank you also for the people who give her joy,
those who love her, past and present. 
We pray today for strength for R in her body and in her spirit.
Strength to find whatever healing there is in this time and place,
strength as she waits to come home to you when she’s ready.
We pray for courage for her family as they support her
and love her and surround her in care.
Mostly, God, we pray for peace.
Peace for R in her body as the pain fades away,
peace for her family in their hearts as they wait with her,
and peace for R in her spirit as she finds her true peace in you.
As in all places, help us know that you are here with us, granting your peace.
Your peace. Amen.

For Scirnis - Norse mythology

Fearlessness is better than a faint-heart
for any man who puts his nose out of doors.

The length of my life and the day of my death 
were fated long ago.

Sayings of The Buddha

I am of the nature to grow old.
There is no way to escape growing old.

I am of the nature to have ill-health.

There is no way to escape having ill-health.

I am of the nature to die.
There is no way to escape death.

All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature to change.
There is no way to escape being separated from them.

My actions are my only true belongings.
I cannot escape the consequences of my actions.
My actions are the ground on which I stand.

Catholic Prayer for the Dying - Non-Christian

God of all Creation,
Be with us now
  and at the hour of our death.
Shelter us from harms' way
  and lead us on the path to eternal life.
Receive our life, all that we are, 
  and everything we do.
May the Angel of Mercy stay near us
  this day and always.
Amen 

Circle Wisdom - Sedonia Cahill

I invite you to enter for a moment
into Sacred Time and Space,
into a way of seeing that is broad and spacious.
See this Day, from the time you arose this morning
until you sleep this evening, as one Ceremony,
divided into small and familiar rituals,
your Heart as the Altar.
You, part of the Cycles of Light and Darkness.

Now begin to see your Life,
from the moment of your Conception
until the time of your Death
as one long, continuous Ceremony,
filled with many rituals,
some familiar, some unknown and challenging.
Your Home and all Your Relations, the Altar.
You, part of many Seasons and Cycles.

Now see this Ceremony of your Life
as part of a much larger Ceremony that extends
Seven Generations into the Past and 
Seven into the Future,
made up of many Births and Deaths.
This beautiful spinning Earth the Altar.
You, part of the great Ebb and Flow.

Now, if You will, imagine this larger Ceremony
to be but one part of a Ceremony so grand,
so magnificent as to be hardly comprehensible,
a great, vast Ceremonial Circle, rich and vibrant
with millions upon millions of swirling
Circles of Dancing Light,
and You, one of those Dancing Circles,
a Dancer on the Altar that is the Universe,
where Time is Eternal.

May You Dance In Beauty.

Care for the Dying - Tibetan Buddhist phowa practice

Through your blessing, grace, and guidance,
through the power of the light that streams from you:
May all my negative karma, destructive emotions,
obscurations and blockages be purified and removed,
May I know myself forgiven
for all the harm I may have thought and done,
May I accomplish this profound practice of phowa,
and die a good and peaceful death,
And through the triumph of my death,
may I be able to benefit all other beings, living or dead.

Prayer to St. Joseph - 1st century ±

O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong,
so prompt before the Throne of God,
I place in you all my interests and desires.prayers of St Joseph
O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession
and obtain for me from your Divine Son
all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord;
so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power
I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage
to the most Loving of Fathers.
O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you
and Jesus asleep in your arms.
I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.
Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me,
and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.
St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls,
pray for us.
Amen

Holy Rosary -Catholic

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
Amen.

Dervish Prayer - Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi - 13th century

On the day I die, when I'm being carried
toward the grave, don't weep. Don't say,

He's gone! He's gone. Death has nothing
to do with going away. The sun sets and

the moon sets, but they're not gone.
Death is a coming together. The tomb

looks like a prison, but it's really
release into union. The human seed goes

down in the ground like a bucket into
the well where Joseph is. It grows and

comes up full of some unimagined beauty.
Your mouth closes here and immediately

opens with a shout of joy there.

Prayer - Thomas Merton

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think I am following
your will does not mean that I am
actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please
you does in fact please you.
And I hope that I have that desire in all
that I am doing.
And I know that if I do this, you
will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death, I will
not fear, for you are ever with me
and you will never leave me
to face my perils alone.

Prayer - Mary Elizabeth Frye - 1932

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousands winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there. I did not die.

A Prayer for the Dying - Assyrian

BIND the sick man to Heaven, 
for from Earth he is being torn away!
Of the brave man who was so strong, 
his strength has departed.
Of the righteous servant, the force does not return, 
in his bodily frame he lies dangerously ill.

But Ishtar, who in her dwelling, 
is grieved concerning him, 
descends from her mountain unvisited of men.
To the door of the sick man she comes.

The sick man listens!

Who is there? Who comes? 
It is Ishtar, daughter of the Moon God!
Like pure silver may his garment be shining white!
Like brass may he be radiant!
To the Sun, greatest of the gods, 
may he ascend!
And may the Sun, greatest of the gods, 
receive his soul into his holy hands!

Recommendation - Thich Nhat Hanh - 1965

Promise me,
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
promise me:

Even as they
strike you down
with a mountain of hatred and violence;
even as they step on you and crush you
like a worm,
even as they dismember and disembowel you,
remember, brother,
remember:
man is not our enemy.

The only thing worthy of you is compassion –
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face
the beast in man.

One day, when you face this beast alone,
with your courage intact, your eyes kind,
untroubled
(even as no one sees them),
out of your smile
will bloom a flower.
And those who love you
will behold you
across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying.

Alone again,
I will go on with bent head,
knowing that love has become eternal.
On the long, rough road,
the sun and the moon
will continue to shine.

The Six Senses of Prayer - Anne Shannon Demarest - 1965

It can be heard in the doleful cry
Of a lonely whippoorwill . . .
In zephyr winds that softly touch
The nodding daffodil.

It can be seen in myriad reflections
On a moonlit lake . . .
In candles gleaming happily
Upon a birthday cake.

It can be felt in soothing warmth
Of summer's shining sun . . .
In rhythmic throbbing when two hearts
Beat metrically as one.

It can be smelled in sun-parched planting's
Gratitude for shower . . .
In the scent when soft wind kisses
Spring's first fragrant flower.

It can be savored only in
Undying thirst for Thee . . .
In lonely man imploring God
In meek humility.

It can be sensed while treading in
The paths where saints have trod . . .
In living, talking, loving, walking
Hand-in-hand with God.
Thank you World Prayers