11 Opening Prayers For a Funeral

When praying to begin a funeral, it is important to be mindful of the different needs of those who are gathered. Prayer is a powerful tool that can be used to comfort and uplift those who are grieving.

If you’ve never prayed in public before, it can be intimidating the first time you do (or even the second and third!). You’re praying in front of people and they can hear you. You are praying on behalf of everyone gathered for the funeral so it’s natural to feel a little self-conscious. I want to offer the following tips to help you prepare for praying a closing prayer at a funeral or memorial service.

Pray for comfort and peace for the family and friends of the deceased. Ask God to give them strength during this difficult time, just as you would want someone to pray for you, if you were in their situation.
Pray for hope and assurance in the midst of loss. Remind people that death is not the end, and that they will see their loved one again in heaven. Only do this if you know for sure they have a relationship with God. If you are unsure, or don’t know, then you might say something like: “(Name) is in a better place and is no longer suffering in this world.”

Acknowledge the pain and loss that people are feeling. Let them know that you are there to support them in their grief. You don’t have to use fancy words, just acknowledge that people are grieving the loss of their loved one.
Close your prayer by thanking God for the life of the deceased. Celebrate their memories and let them know that they are loved. People showed up for their funeral, which means that the person had an impact on people’s lives; you can point to that and give thanks for their life.

Even though public praying is different than private prayer, it’s an action that you are capable of doing. Just remember a few things as you prepare.

First, public praying is more formal. You will need to use language that is respectful and appropriate for the occasion. Second, public praying is more intentional. You will need to carefully consider the words you say, as they will be heard by many people. Third, public praying is more vulnerable. You will be sharing your faith with others, and this can be a daunting task.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” ( Revelation 21.4, ESV).

Praying in public, even at a funeral, can also be a very rewarding experience. It is an opportunity to use your gifts to minister to others and to bring glory to God. If you are ever asked to pray at a funeral, remember that you are not alone. God is with you and he will give you the words you need to say. It is the Holy Spirit who will bring comfort to those gathered; you’re simply speaking words to help make that happen.

While this type of prayer may be different than how you typically pray, see it as an opportunity to grow in your prayer life, to build new prayer “muscles.” Remember, God is present with you as you prepare and as you speak your closing prayer. God will help you to comfort those who are grieving.

Read through these prayers and find the one that will be of most help to you.

Short Prayer To Begin A Funeral

Dear God in heaven, through Christ, we ask for your comfort and peace to surround us, now, and in the days and weeks ahead. We have come together in our grief, acknowledging our loss. I pray that throughout this funeral service, we will fondly remember (name of the deceased). May the love we have for (name of the deceased) continue on as we live out the best of who he (she) was in our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Prayer To Open A Memorial Service

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the life of [name of the deceased]. He was a gift to us all, and we will miss him so very, very much. Even now, I can hear his laughter and see his gentle smile. I don’t like that the disease took him from us quickly and much earlier than any of us would have liked. I trust we can all take some comfort knowing he is now whole, and fully healed in your loving gaze.

We are grateful for the opportunity to celebrate his life today. We are also so thankful that we did not have to put off holding this memorial service because of any health concerns or warnings. We have this lovely space to have this service and that’s a blessing. It is a special joy to see so many people who were positively touched by (the deceased).

I want to ask your blessing of peace on each person here; may we know that you look upon us with love, mindful of our grief. I ask all of this in the loving name of Jesus, Amen.

Opening Prayer For A Friend’s Funeral

Father God, we come before you this afternoon as our friend, [name of the deceased] has died. I know every person here has a favorite memory of (deceased) and they probably all involve her being kind and serving others. Each of us is better because of her and I’m thankful we had the blessing of her friendship.

I want to pray for her family here today. May they be uplifted to see how many people were touched by their daughter, their sister, their granddaughter. She was the best kind of friend to have and there is a hole in our hearts right now that can never be filled by someone else–(deceased) was a special woman.

While we know she is with you, we miss her and wish she could still be with us. Enable us to walk out a healthy grief in the months ahead, so that we can honor the best of her in each of our lives. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, Amen.

Prayer Before A Eulogy

Father God, I am here to honor my dear friend (name of deceased). I pray that as we all hear the eulogy, we can each recall a special moment when she touched our lives in a meaningful way. We may laugh or cry or sit in silence, but we are here to honor her life and her influence.

May the speaker be at peace as he speaks of (name). May your blessing of peace rest upon us all in these moments. I ask this in the name of Jesus, the God of all Peace, Amen.

Prayer At The Start Of A Graveside Service

Dear Lord God, we gather here today at this cemetery to lay [name of the deceased] to rest. We are grateful for the time we had with him, and we know that he will be deeply missed.

I want to take this time to pray that you will comfort each of us during this difficult time of loss and mourning. I ask that you give us the strength and peace we need, at the moment we need it. May we all have the grace and space to grieve deeply and to grieve well.

I also pray for your blessing on this place. May it be a place of peace and healing for all who come here to remember [name of the deceased]. His body we offer to the ground, but his influence and memory we lift in our hearts and minds in the days to come. Through Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, I pray this prayer of thanks for the life of (name of deceased), Amen.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34.18, NIV).

Opening Prayer For A Military Funeral

Dear great and mighty God, all of us gather here today to honor the life of [name of the deceased]. He was a brave and selfless soldier who served our country with honor and character. On behalf of each person here, I want to offer grateful thanks for his service, as he has paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you to each one who has helped to make this funeral happen with care and compassion. I pray now, especially for his family, that your peace and provision will continue, long after the cards and phone calls have ceased. As they hear stories of his influence, may they be comforted.

Help each of us to make sense of our feelings of loss by your grace and mercy. May we seek to live each day, honoring (name of deceased)’s life and memory through our words and actions. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Prayer To Start A Private Funeral

Dear Lord, we gather here today in private to remember and celebrate the life of [name of the deceased]. We are grateful for the time we had with them, and we know that they will be deeply missed. We embrace the memories that will spring forth for each of us in the weeks ahead, as they are a way to help us mourn.

We pray that you will comfort us during this difficult time. We pray that you will give us strength and peace. Thank you for the quiet and stillness here in the small gathering of close friends and family. This is a meaningful time for all of us.

As this service continues, I pray that you will bless the memories of [name of the deceased]. May we always cherish the time we had with them. Their impact on our lives is immeasurable, yet tangible, for we each feel that loss deeply. I humbly ask for your comfort to surround us all, in the name of Jesus, Amen.

Opening Prayer At Funeral For A Public Figure

Almighty God, we come before you today to for [name of the deceased]. We come with heavy hearts, but we also come with hope. Much of his life was lived in the public eye and he worked and served with good character and with integrity. May we each look to his life as an example of a life well lived.

We know that death is not the end, but a doorway to eternal life. We believe that [name of the deceased] is now with you in heaven, and we rejoice in that knowledge.

I personally pray that you will comfort [name of the deceased]’s family and friends during this difficult time.  I want to ask you to give the right amount of peace and acceptance at just the right moment when they need it most. I want to acknowledge that it is okay to feel sad because we have loved (the deceased) well.

I want to pray that you will shine your blessing on this community. May we be a people who love and support one another, even in the midst of loss. May we set aside disagreements and differences as we honor the life and memory of (the deceased). In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Prayer At The Start Of A Celebration Of Life Service

Gracious God, we gather here today to remember and celebrate the life of [name of the deceased]. We are grateful for the time we had with her, and we know that she will be deeply missed. We may feel sad because she is not with us, but we can have joy for she has embraced the ultimate healing, is now in no pain, and is fully whole in your presence.

We celebrate (the deceased) because her life mattered to each of us. She is sorely missed because she had so much impact and influence in our lives. Our lives would be much more empty if she had not been involved in our lives and so we give thanks for your grace and love that made her wonderful.

I want to take a moment to pray a personal thanks that you have created us with the ability to feel both sadness and joy at the same time. Help us all to grieve well and fully and to honor (the deceased) with our very best as we live each day. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Opening Prayer For A Child’s Funeral

Lord God, as I pray to begin this funeral for a precious child (name of deceased) with a heavy heart. I want to take a moment in this prayer to speak what may be on many people’s minds right now and we may not want to voice personally. I don’t have words to make sense of this loss.

Children aren’t supposed to die before their parents, but (parent’s names) are experiencing that. On their behalf I plead with you to bring insight, understanding, and tangible peace to them in these moments, and in the days and nights to come.

We trust in your grace and mercy that (child) is in your loving embrace because of Christ. While everything doesn’t fully make sense right now, I pray that, in time, you will bring each of us acceptance and perspective. Right now, I pray for comfort beyond measure.

As we prepare to share in this moment of grief, I pray for a sense of acceptance of this reality, bound by your grace and mercy. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.

Prayer To Begin A Family Member’s Funeral

Dear God, my sister has died and I find myself standing here, praying to begin her funeral. I never imagined that I would be doing such a thing, so I pray for the strength to make it through these next few moments.

I am grateful that so many family and friends were able to be here to remember her life and honor her memory. Thank you to each person–your presence matters, to me, and to our family. I am honored that she had such a great impact on so many people in the most simple of ways.

My sister was always helping someone. She never wanted the spotlight–she just lived her life to help people know they were loved by Jesus. It is a small joy, but a joy nonetheless, to know she is with you, Lord. We all take comfort in that truth.

I also pray for your blessing on our family. May we continue to love and support each other, even in the midst of loss.  Let us give one another the grace and space to grieve fully and well. I ask all of this in the powerful name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Final Thoughts

If you are not a minister or pastor, you probably have not prayed at a funeral before. This could be the first time you’ve been asked to pray out loud in public. Do not worry.  These 11 opening prayers for a funeral are for you to use. Each is written in a general manner so you can modify the wording to fit your specific funeral scenario.

These prayers are merely a tool to guide you to pray for your friend or loved one in a way that will honor them. Realize that God the Holy Spirit brings comfort and peace, so you can release any anxiety you may feel about praying in public.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” ( Matthew 5.4, NIV).

You may have concerns about reading a written prayer, but it is perfectly acceptable to do so. I encourage you to mark this website as a favorite so you can quickly find hundreds of useful prayers on many different topics and life scenarios.

As you pray to open a funeral, realize that you don’t have to be perfect or alter your voice, or “perform.” You just need to pray clearly. I would encourage you to write your prayer and have it with you.

Also, practice praying it out loud a few times before the funeral. You’ll feel more comfortable that way. You’d be surprised at how you can speed up when you pray out loud in public. Just relax, practice, and let God be your strength as you pray.

We’d love to hear from you about how your prayer went. Please share your prayer requests and comments in the section below.  Keep on praying!

2 thoughts on “11 Opening Prayers For a Funeral”

  1. I am looking for a prayer that I can say at the dedication of 2 new military headstones that I ordered from the Veteran’s Aff. A father and son, the father is WWI and his son WWII. the father passed in 1971 and his son a well known artist in our county, passed in 2008. They had no headstones at all. I have requested that the local American Legion Chaplain attend and lead us but it looks like the Honor Guard can not make it this Saturday due to a bit of confusion. Thank you so very much Carole Taylor

    1. Carole,
      This is John, the author of this post. I read your comment and am sorry a Chaplain won’t be able to be there for the dedication on Saturday. I would like to offer you this specific prayer for you (or someone) to use at the ceremony. You can add or subtract wording as you need to. You have full permission to use this prayer.

      Dear Lord God,
      We gather today to dedicate two headstones on behalf of (father’s name) and (son’s name). (father) served in WW1 and passed away in 1971. It is long since time for his service to his country to be tangibly visible with this headstone. We gave thanks to You for his life, his service, and his continued memory.

      We also ask You to bless the headstone of (son), who served in WW2 and passed away in 2008. He enriched many people’s lives through his art, throughout this county. For his life and service, we give thanks. For his artistry, we are grateful to You for gifting him in such a way.

      On behalf of everyone here, I give praise and thanks for Your grace and mercy upon us all, and for these two honorable men. May they continue to rest in peace, and be honored in our memories of them both. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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