Praying for a departed family member or friend

When we hear of the news of a family member, friend or acquaintance who has died we are naturally sad. We may wish to pause on hearing the news and think and pray for the person. Later in the day, or sometime after, we may wish to reflect and pray for a longer period.

Here are some traditional forms of prayer which Christians have found helpful at such a time.

Many Christians make the sign of the cross when they hear of a death, or as they begin a prayer for a deceased person. Then a short pause to gather oneself and call to mind the person is appropriate. You may then wish to say in your own words a prayer for the person, thanking God for them and praying for their peace.

The following prayer is based on the Proficiscere a traditional commendation prayer.

May the choirs of angels come to greet you. May they speed you to paradise. May the Lord enfold you in his mercy. May you find eternal life.

This prayer of commendation is part of the Anglican funeral liturgies:

Heavenly Father, into whose hands Jesus Christ commended his spirit at the last hour: into those same hands we now commend your servant N, that death may be for him/her the gate to life and to eternal fellowship with you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Psalm 130, the De Profundis is traditionally recited for the dead:

Out of the depths have I cried to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice; let your ears consider well the voice of my supplication.

If you, Lord, were to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with you, so that you shall be feared.

I wait for the Lord; my soul waits for him; in his word is my hope.

 My soul waits for the Lord, more than the night watch for the morning, more than the night watch for the morning. 

O Israel, wait for the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy;

With him is plenteous redemption and he shall redeem Israel from all their sins.

(As part of the prayer you may find it helpful to listen to this lovely recording of Psalm 130 to music by Walford Davies)

Rest eternal grant to N. O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her/him. May s/he rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

Lighting a candle in church for a departed family member or friend is a simple sign of prayer and a symbol of Christ’s light shining in darkness. You are welcome to ask for prayer at church and for the person to be named at the monthly requiem mass held at church.

About stchrysostoms

St Chrysostom’s is an Anglican (Church of England) parish church in Manchester, UK. We’re an inclusive, diverse and welcoming faith community rejoicing in our Anglo Catholic tradition, where people of many differing backgrounds make friends. Find our Facebook group at
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2 Responses to Praying for a departed family member or friend

  1. Joseph Cirou says:

    In the Roman Tradition the Proficiscere is recited at the moment of death or at the end of the last rites before actual death

  2. E.J. James says:

    I have found wonderful solace in the Office of the Dead contained with the Liturgy of the Hours. I pray at least one Office as soon as I can when I hear of the death of a loved one or close friend and often mark a years mind with a votive office. Of course psalm 130 is part of the Office of the Dead.

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