A MULTI-CULTURAL SELECTION OF PRAYERS FOR THE DYING
These prayers from different traditions are offered as a resource for anyone who wants to help another at the time of passing. We don’t presume to tell anyone how to pray. We also don’t feel that it’s a great idea to impose one’s spiritual beliefs on anyone else…especially when they are dying. That being said, if it’s been established that the one who is dying would like prayers to be said, here is a list from many different traditions. If you want more information on how to do a prayer or reading please see the secret of effective prayer.
We hope to add to this list of prayers every week. If you have a prayer that you would like to submit please contact us.Thank you!
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.
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 Nyingma master – Longchenpa Rabjampa – 14th century
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.
The Clear Light Prayer
Now I am experiencing the Clear Light of objective reality. Nothing is happening, nothing ever has happened or ever will happen. My present sense of self, the voyager, is in reality the void itself, having no qualities or characteristics. I remember myself as the voyager, whose deepest nature is the Clear Light itself; I am one; there is no other. I am the voidness of the void, the eternal unborn, the uncreated, neither real nor unreal. All that I have been conscious of is my own play of consciousness, a dance of light, the swirling patterns of light in infinite extension, endless endlessness, the Absolute beyond change, existence, reality. I, the voyager, am inseparable from the Clear Light; I cannot be born, die, exist, or change. I know now that this is my true nature.
–From American Book of the Dead by E.J. Gold
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
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;
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.
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.;
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.
Tibetan Buddhist phowa practice – Care for the Dying
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.
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.
Catholic – Holy Rosary
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.
Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi – 13th century
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.
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.
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!
A Buddhist prayer for preparing for dying
O nobly born
The time may soon come for you to seek new levels of reality.
You may soon be set face to face with the Clear Light.
You may soon experience it in its reality.
The state in which all things are like the void and the cloudless sky,
And the naked spotless intellect is like a transparent vacuum;
At this moment, know yourself and abide in that state.
Concentrate on the unity of all living beings.
Hold onto the Clear Light.
Use it to attain understanding and love.
Remember the unity of all living things.
Remember the bliss of the Clear Light.
O nobly born
Try to reach and keep the experience of the Clear Light.
Your own awareness, not formed into anything possessing form or colour, is naturally void.
The Final Reality.
The All Good.
The All Peaceful.
The movement is the fire of life from which we all come.
It is part of you.
Beyond the light of life is the peaceful silence of the void.
The quiet bliss beyond all transformations.
The Void is not nothingness.
The Void is beginning and end itself.
Unobstructed; shining, thrilling, blissful.
Your own consciousness, not formed into anything,
No thought, no vision, no colour, is void.
This is the state of perfect enlightenment.
Your own consciousness, shining, void and inseparable from the great body of radiance, has no birth, nor death.
It is the immutable light.
O nobly born, remember:
When the body and mind separate, you experience a glimpse of the pure truth –
Subtle, sparkling, bright,
Dazzling, glorious and radiantly awesome,
In appearance like a mirage moving across a landscape in springtime.
Neither be daunted nor terrified.
That is the radiance of your own true nature.
From the midst of that radiance
Comes the natural sound of reality,
Reverberating like a thousand thunders sounding at once.
That is the natural sound of your own life process.
Be neither daunted nor terrified.
O nobly born
These realms are not come from somewhere outside your self,
They come from within and shine upon you.
Know them to be of that nature.
The key to enlightenment and serenity during the period of the thousand visions is simply this:
Merge yourself with them.
Become neither attached nor afraid,
Neither be attracted nor repulsed.
They exist only within you.
O nobly born
The Radiant Energy of the Seed
From which come all living forms,
Shoots forth and strikes against you
With a light so brilliant that you will scarcely be able to look at it.
Do not be frightened.
This is the Source Energy which has been radiating for billions of years,
Ever manifesting itself in different forms.
Merge with it.
Let it flow through you.
Lose yourself in it.
Fuse in the Halo of Rainbow Light
In the core of the energy dance.
O nobly born
You are flowing outward into the fluid unity of life.
The ecstasy of organic fire glows in every cell.
The hard, dry, brittle husks of your selfhead are washing out,
Washing out to the endless sea of creation.
Flow with it.
Feel the pulse of the sun’s heart.
Do not fear the ecstasy.
Do not resist the flow.
Remember, all the exultant power comes from within.
Release your attachment.
Recognize the wisdom of your own blood.
Trust the tide-force pulling you into unity with all living forms.
Let your heart burst in love for all life.
Do not try to hold on to your old bodily fears.
Let your body merge with the warm flux.
Float in the Rainbow Sea.
From The Natural Death Centre’s ecumenicised adaptation of extracts from The Tibetan Book of Dead (adapted from The Psychedelic Experience edited by Leary, Metzner and Alpert, published by Citadel Press, 120 Enterprise Avenue, Secaucus. NJ 07094, USA, 1990, ISBN 0 8065 0552 4).
Studying the Benefit of Prayer
The experiment cited most often by advocates of prayer is one by a cardiologist at San Francisco General Medical Center (Randolph C. Byrd, “Positive Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in a Coronary Care Unit Population,” Southern Medical Journal 81, July 7, 1988: 826-829)
Byrd studied 393 patients between August 1982 and May 1983, dividing the group into 192 patients who were prayed for, and 201 who were not. He reported that, among other things, the people who were prayed for were five times less likely to develop pulmonary edema; that none required endotracheal intubation, and fewer of them died.
thank you www.worldprayers.orgCaregiver Revolution :For families, loved ones and professionals who want to change caregiving into a positive, life affirming experience.