Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” (Matthew 22:23-32)
This passage is at the heart of three Christian ideas. The first is the Communion of Saints-- the doctrine that whenever we pray together, especially at the Eucharist, we join our voices "with angels and archangels and… all the faithful of every generation."
Derived from this doctrine is the practice of invoking the intercession of saints. If everyone is alive to God, then there is no difference between your asking me to pray for you and asking, for example, St. Francis of Assisi to pray for you. St. Francis and I are equally alive in the sight of God.
Finally, there's the practice of praying for the souls of the dead. The belief that all are alive in the sight of God precludes the idea that once a person dies, it's all over. Both the above passage, and my overriding belief that God loves us and love, not death, always wins, persuade me that the old Catholic practice of praying for the dead makes perfect sense. Here, then, is one way to do it.
I have written elsewhere about the Anglican Rosary. The main thing that sets it apart from other chaplet prayers (prayers said on strings of beads variously configured) is that the beads have no fixed prayers associated with them. Rather, the person praying decides what to say on each of the different types of beads in the chaplet. This is how I use the Anglican Rosary to pray for the departed.
On the cross, I pray the Collect for Purity from the Book of Common Prayer: Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
On the bead after the cross – called the Invitatory bead-- I pray the opening lines of the Daily Office, also from the Book of Common Prayer: Lord, open our lips, and our mouths shall proclaim your praise. O God, makes speed to save us; O Lord, make haste to help us. Glory to God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
On the four Cruciform beads, I pray a prayer from the Prayerbook Ministration at the Time of Death: Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant N. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Finally, on each of the sets of seven small beads (known as "weeks") I pray one of the best-known of all prayers for the dead: Rest eternal grand him, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him.
One other thing that sets the Anglican Rosary apart from other chaplets is that the chaplet doesn't end with the last bead in the circle; rather, one goes around the circle as often as one wishes, the ends by repeating the Invitatory and ending on the Cross. For the second Invitatory prayer, I use the Song of Simeon: Lord, you now have set your servant free, to go in peace as you have promised; for these eyes of mine have seen the Savior whom you have prepared for all the world to see: a Light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people Israel. Glory to God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
I conclude by repeating the Collect for Purity on the Cross.
If you have had an inclination to pray for the departed, and weren't sure how to get started, perhaps this little exercise will help.