Prayers for the Dead
What is prayer? Prayer is the connection and communication with the Divine. It’s the telephone call that you make. Prayer can be done at any time HOWEVER you may want to make your prayers more effective by taking time to center yourself before making the call.
Think about it this way. If you were making an important call for your job, to you boss; wouldn’t you stop and make sure that you were in a place to make the call. This could be in a quiet place or just “getting your mind right.” The Divine is THE BOSS. So… try to find a way to ground yourself when you visit your altar. The quickest way to do this is to
- Stop what you are doing
- Try to put your laundry list out of your head
- Think about approaching the Divine with respect and the intention of connection
- Some people may do more by actually having clothing that they wear, a robe or something.
- For example, when I was muslim there were things that I had to do to prepare for Salat (the prayer that most people see in movies. I had to ritually clean myself (wudu). Then make sure that I was dressed appropriately, everything except by face and hands had to be covered. SO you can’t just run into a prayer. You actually are doing things to make sure that you’re ready and your whole intention is to be ready to speak to God.
- If you aren’t getting yourself into a headspace to pray at your altar, start now.
Now that we have done a quick rundown on prayer, let’s talk about prayer for your ancestors. This is a GREAT way to make a connection with them. I pray for my fathers soul and the forgiveness of his sins EVERY NIGHT. It’s not more than about five minutes BUT he hears it and I hope that it makes a huge difference hopefully with the divine. Your prayers can definitely be your own. I believe that prayers from YOUR heart are the most powerful. But let’s look at some traditional ones.
Many of us have heard of a Requiem mass and heard the music that comes from it. Generally written or said in Latin the English is:
Eternal rest grant unto him
O Lord, and let perpetual light
Sine upon him,
May he rest in peace.
O God, who hast commanded us to honor our father and our mother; in Thy mercy have pity on the soul of my father, and forgive his his trespasses; and make me to see him again in the joy of everlasting brightness.
There are a variety of Psalms that can be used as prayers for the dead
- Psalm 23
- Psalm 25 v. 15-17
- Psalms 33 v 18-22
A little research can return many more examples.
Some Buddhist groups believe that the time where the living can be of most help for others is after death. They believe “he mind is nine times stronger and the environment in which it moves is less solid than this one. Thus, if it thinks of a place, it will be there. If it is able to focus on spiritual truth it will immediately be drawn into it, experience it and be liberated by it.” Although the mind is stronger without physical restraints, it is unstable. Prayer can help with this condition and bring focus them.
I found the idea of the death yantra as very interesting. A yantra is a picture, usually geometric, that brings into focus and magnifies spiritual forces.. When we die and enter the spiritual plane, we find ourselves in very strange territory where familiar reference points have vanished. Most people become confused and afraid, so they suffer and forget.
Buddhists also believe in leaving food offerings as part of the prayer process.
Prayers for your ancestors is extremely important. Just as you ask people to pray for you, they need your prayers as well.