There are few things more sobering than praying for someone who is dying, and few things more humbling than praying with someone whose time on earth is drawing to a close. In his book Facing the Last Enemy, Guy Prentiss Waters offers wise counsel to those who have the responsibility and even the privilege of this task. Here is his simple guidance on praying for those who are dying.
First, we should pray that the person would have a sure and settled faith in Jesus Christ. About a month before he died, an ailing John Calvin told fellow ministers who were visiting him that “my faults have always displeased me and the root of the fear of the Lord has always been in my heart.” Calvin was well acquainted with his sins. For that reason, he took refuge in the Lord, trusting and fearing Him from the heart. We should pray that our dying friend or loved one would, by God’s grace, make the same kind of confession.
Second, we should pray that the person would submit himself to the will of God. If it is evident in God’s providence that his time on this earth is limited, then the best thing to do is to bow before God. We should also pray for ourselves that we would submit to this hard providence. We may pray this prayer for the dying person and for ourselves in confidence that God is working only for His glory and the good of His people in this world (Rom. 8:28). We trust God even when we do not fully understand what He is doing in our lives.
Third, we should pray that our dying loved one would have comfort of body and soul. We do not want him to linger in physical pain. It is not necessarily wrong to pray that the Lord would take a dying believer home to Him soon. We also do not want the person to experience distress of soul. We should pray that he would experience the “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” and “guards” “hearts” and “minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7).
Finally, we should pray that God would provide for the family and friends whom the dying person will leave behind. Pray that He would fulfill His promise to watch over the widow and the orphan (Deut. 10:18; Ps. 68:5). Pray that He would spiritually provide for the survivors as they grieve their loss, that their grief may be in the hope of the gospel.