Prayer for All Mourners

10 Biblical Funeral Prayers for a Christian Funeral Service

Prayer for All Mourners

Last Updated on May 29, 2018

Biblical funeral prayers are one important way for Christians to honor God, show their trust and faith in him, and proclaim his goodness and sovereignty over all of life’s affairs. In life and in death our hope is in God and in the saving work of Jesus his Son.

So it is right to pray at a Christian’s funeral service. Prayer is an act of worship, an act of trust, and an act of obedience. As such, funeral prayers are profoundly comforting to believers and a wonderful testimony of the deceased’s faith in Christ.

Additionally, because we believe that the Bible is our rule of faith and conduct, it is good to pray Biblical funeral prayers that are taken directly from the Scriptures. This, again, is a way to honor God by proclaiming his word. The Word and prayer are also means of grace by which the Holy Spirit encourages and comforts his people.

Here are ten beautiful and biblical prayers to pray at a believer’s funeral.

Biblical Funeral Prayers for a Christian Funeral Service

Any of these biblical funeral prayers can be read by a pastor or clergy, by a close friend or family member, or corporately by all attendees.

You can divide these up into call-and-response readings, where the leader reads one or more verses and the rest of the funeral service attendees read the next verse or two.

Corporate prayers invite participation and allow mourners a way to express grief and faith.

However, not all who attend a funeral are believers, so unless the funeral is held in a church and officiated by a minister you may want to preface any corporate prayers, readings, or hymns with an invitation to participate but also note that it is not required.

This is an excellent opportunity to present the the gospel as you encourage those who cannot pray along with you to at least listen and consider the words of Scripture.

See “Example of Call-and-Response Corporate Prayer” at the end of this article for how to do a prayer in this manner.

King James Version (Traditional)

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.

English Standard Version (Contemporary)

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters.He restores my soul.He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil,For you are with me;Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;You anoint my head with oil;My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.


From Matthew 6:9-13, where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray.

3. I CORINTHIANS 15:51-57

Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.

For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality.

And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. PSALM 27:1, 3-5

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear:Though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after;That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion:In the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me;

He shall set me up upon a rock.


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:A time to be born and a time to die,A time to plant and a time to uproot,A time to kill and a time to heal,A time to tear down and a time to build,A time to weep and a time to laugh,A time to mourn and a time to dance,A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,A time to search and a time to give up,A time to keep and a time to throw away,A time to tear and a time to mend,A time to be silent and a time to speak,A time to love and a time to hate,

A time for war and a time for peace.

6. II TIMOTHY 2:11-13

This saying is trustworthy:If we have died with him we shall also live with him;If we persevere we shall also reign with him.But if we deny him he will deny us.If we are unfaithful he remains faithful,

For he cannot deny himself.


This is an ancient burial prayer taken from multiple Scripture passages. Traditional and anonymous, it is included here because it is simply the words of the Bible in prayer form.

I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

 John 11:25-26
I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger. Job 19:25-27
For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For if we live, we live unto the Lord.

and if we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. Romans 14:7-8
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors. Revelation 14:13


From Matthew 5:3-12, where Jesus pronounced this series of blessings for the encouragement of the saints.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you because of me.

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.

9. PSALM 116

I love the Lord, because He has heardMy voice and my supplications.Because He has inclined His ear to me,

Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.

The pains of death surrounded me,And the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me;I found trouble and sorrow.Then I called upon the name of the Lord:

“O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;Yes, our God is merciful.The Lord preserves the simple;I was brought low, and He saved me.Return to your rest, O my soul,

For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For You have delivered my soul from death,My eyes from tears,And my feet from falling.I will walk before the LordIn the land of the living.I believed, therefore I spoke,“I am greatly afflicted.”I said in my haste,

“All men are liars.”

What shall I render to the LordFor all His benefits toward me?I will take up the cup of salvation,And call upon the name of the Lord.I will pay my vows to the Lord

Now in the presence of all His people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.

O Lord, truly I am Your servant;I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;You have loosed my bonds.I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,

And will call upon the name of the Lord.

I will pay my vows to the LordNow in the presence of all His people,In the courts of the Lord’s house,

In the midst of you, O Jerusalem.

Praise the Lord!

10. PSALM 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills;Where does my help come from?My help comes from the Lord,

The Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip;He who watches over you will not slumber;Indeed, He who watches over Israel

Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you.The Lord is your shade at your right hand;The sun will not harm you by day,

Nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm.He will watch over your life;The Lord will watch over your coming and going

Both now and forever more.


Here are some additional biblical funeral prayer Scripture passages ideal for reading or prayer at a funeral.

  • Psalm 32
  • Psalm 34
  • Psalm 46
  • Psalm 130
  • Matthew 11:25-30
  • John 5:24-29
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  • 1 John 3:1-2


Here is an example of how to do a corporate prayer (where everyone recites the words of the prayer together) in a call-and-response style. From I Corinthians 15:51-57.


Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet.


For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.


For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”


“Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”


The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.


But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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The Jewish Funeral and Sitting Shiva – A Concise Guide For Mourners – Death & Mourning

Prayer for All Mourners

The most pressing, initial requirement is to arrange the time of the funeral. This must be done with the Chevrah Kadisha (the Jewish burial society). The funeral director will propose a time, which may need to be confirmed with the officiating rabbi. Once a time is set, the relatives and friends can be notified and notices placed (if applicable).

Read: What to Expect at a Shiva House?

Minimizing Any Delay

It is a very important Mitzvah to bury the deceased as soon as humanly possible, preferably on the very same day.

When children live overseas and express their desire to come for the funeral, it must be emphasized to them that it is imperative to arrive at the earliest possible time, even if it takes greater effort and expense.

This may entail a less direct routing, etc. In the event of an unavoidable delay, this should never exceed 72 hours. Obviously, the less delay, the better.

Under no circumstances should a funeral be delayed for inconsequential reasons; such as waiting for a Sunday or to accommodate other schedualed events, etc.

Read: Why the Rush for the Jewish Funeral?

Prayers During the Week of Shiva

Ideally, these should take place in the home of the deceased. A person’s spirit is more tangible in the place where he/she has lived their life. If this is not possible, other arrangements may be made.

Remember, though, that the principal purpose of prayers is not merely to hold a memorial service, but to obviate the need for the mourner to leave the house of mourning during Shiva.

When there are no prayers at home, the mourner is advised to attend synagogue services in order to recite Kaddish.

Many synagogues and communities provide a portable Ark and Torah scroll for morning services.

Read: Prayers in the Shiva House

Memorial Candles

You will need a seven-day supply to last throughout Shiva. No blessing is recited. The first light may be kindled immediately or, alternatively, upon returning from the cemetery.

Arranging the Home for Prayers

We pray facing east (Jerusalem). Separate areas should be designated for men and women. A small table is placed on the north wall with two candles for the service (Shabbat candlesticks are fine) and the Yahrtzeit candle.

Female mourners should be on the women's side of the room but closest to the men so that they can participate meaningfully and hear what is being said. Contrary to popular myth, there is no reason why female mourners should be made to feel awkward and uncomfortable by sitting alone amongst the men. In fact, it is inappropriate.

Mourners' Seating

One should sit on something low, close to the floor, thus showing that we’ve been “grounded” by our loss. Any seat less than 12 inches off the ground is adequate. It may be a soft seat. Jewish law does not expect us to break our backs. If the cushions of one’s couch are removable, this is the simplest option. Many times the synagogue or a local organization has low chairs available.

Read: Why Sit Low During the Seven-Day Mourning Period?

Who Is a Mourner?

Although the entire family is, emotionally, in mourning, halachically, not everyone is considered a mourner.

Principal mourners are those who have lost a father, mother, brother, sister, spouse, son or daughter. All other family members are not required to sit Shiva.

Obviously, they will grieve with you, but their main obligation is not to do anything which might offend the sensitivities of the principal mourners.


Mirrors and all reflective glass (e.g. T.V.) should be covered. Photographs, portraits and any artwork with faces should be covered, removed or turned inside out. There is no need to place wall-hangings at an angle.

The Funeral

When the deceased is a male, his tallit should be brought along and given to the Chevrah Kadisha representative. You should have the Hebrew (or Yiddish) name and father’s name of the deceased and whether they were Kohen, Levi or Yisrael. (In cases of doubt, older family members, a marriage document or a rabbi should be consulted.)

Read: What to Expect at a Jewish Funeral

Viewing the Body

This is a non-Jewish practice. We Jews do not view the body respect to the dignity of the deceased. Psychologically, too, it is far better to remember our loved ones in good times, rather than be haunted by a deathly image. When, for legal reasons, a body must be identified, this should be done by a close friend or relative rather than by an immediate family member.

Read: Why Don't Jews Have Open-Casket Funerals?

Kriyah – Rending the Garments

This is the traditional manner in which we can appropriately give vent to our grief. By tearing the clothing over the heart, we show that our heart is truly torn by this traumatic loss.

This Mitzvah, therefore, applies to both men and women equally. It is only that, for women, it is done privately, before the service begins. For this reason, female mourners must dress accordingly.

Wear a blouse that you won’t mind tearing and have a shirt underneath to ensure that there is no exposure.


This most sacred prayer, expressing our faith in G‑d even during this time of sorrowful loss, is the obligation of the sons of the deceased.

Where there is no son, other principal mourners or next of kin should recite Kaddish.

Bear in mind that this Mitzvah applies not only to the funeral and prayers, but also for the duration of the year on a daily basis (actually, 11 months to be exact).

Even if one was not previously a synagogue-goer, this is an excellent and opportune time to become one. Countless Jews have become more knowledgeable, more enriched and more comfortable in synagogue by attending daily services during the year of mourning. It is the finest memorial a son can do for his father or mother.

Read: What Is Kaddish?

The Mourners’ Meal

Upon returning from the cemetery, the first meal the family partakes of is, traditionally, provided by neighbors or friends. Round foods are the custom, usually bagels and hard-boiled eggs.

These symbolize the Cycle of Life.

At the moment, we are feeling at the very bottom of the wheel of fortune; but, please G‑d, soon, the wheel will turn for the good and we will again be on top of things.

Sitting Shiva

There are three excellent reasons for sitting Shiva. 1) respect for our loved one. By taking the week off, we indicate that it’s not “business as usual.” We’ve lost a near and dear one and so we ‘stop the world’ for a while to mark this most significant event in our lives.

2) The seven-day Shiva period corresponds to the spiritual journey the departed soul is currently experiencing. The transition from this world to the next is neither simple nor instantaneous; it is a process. By the family observing Shiva properly, we assist the neshoma (soul) in this difficult transition.

3) It is psychologically advisable for the bereaved to sit shiva because it helps us work through the grief process. Spending these early days together helps a family cope infinitely better now and in the long term. Sitting together and remembering, shedding a tear, supporting one another is all part of an important rite of passage. From a mental health perspective, sitting Shiva is positively therapeutic.

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