Ministry is hard, but one of the hardest situations a person can find themselves in during a lifetime of ministry is ministering to people who are dying. Not much explanation has to be done as to why this is; just visualize the scene. Someone gets diagnosed with a terminal illness, an elderly woman or man is on their deathbed, or even children who end up in the hospital with only weeks left to live. For the most part, they know they are dying so it can be difficult to speak with them due to their emotional state or the fact that it makes for a hard conversation. In other situations, most of the ministry is done for the family members who are actually in the room (because the person dying may not be coherent). Personally, I remember visiting an elderly man in the hospital who was given a very short amount of time left to live; his son was extremely upset and the man was barely awake and able to be spoken to. Yet, both of them were grateful to be prayed over and have Scripture read to them. In many of these situations, it can be a great idea to read from the Bible to calm and comfort. So, here are the top 7 Bible verses to read to the dying.
“A Psalm of David. 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.” Psalm 23:1-6 ESV
Psalm 23 is a common verse that people will read during their visit to someone who is dying. For the most part, it will be known by the person/family and sometimes they will even have it memorized.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 ESV
Once again, although a common and sometimes (at least the way it’s used) cliché verse, it’s extremely applicable to someone who is dying. If they already know the Lord, it gives them assurance that they will be in Heaven with Jesus. If they do not believe, this can be an opportunity to share God’s truth with them.
“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13 ESV
The way to salvation!
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” John 14:7 ESV
Jesus already prepared a place for the person you are reading to! How awesome is that?
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:1-5 ESV
This is what the person has to look forward to, so long as they believe in Jesus!
“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” Hebrews 13:14 ESV
The person you are reading to can take comfort knowing that they are just leaving a temporary city for a more permanent one.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:28 ESV
There is certainly safety and security in Jesus’ hands!
Ministering to someone who is dying is extremely difficult, but it is a necessity and important part of ministry (especially pastoral). Don’t be afraid to go straight to God’s Word and let Him be the one who provides the comfort.