Phakchok Rinpoche discusses the benefits of prayer with the Noble Living, Noble Caring, Noble Dying Team. In this conversation in New York, he explains the types of practices that are best to do after death, during the key 49-day period. Rinpoche mentions specific practices that we might wish to sponsor. He also notes that these practices are helpful even if the person is not a Buddhist practitioner.
When somebody is dying, even if they have not previously practiced a spiritual path, they may feel comforted when others offer prayers for them. If they are open to this, then there is no problem in offering prayers and explaining a little bit about the Buddha’s compassion. But we should always be sensitive to each situation and check with family members and those at the bedside. And please remember that in any situation, we can always offer silent prayer without making a big production—that way there is no distress for others. So if you sense that family or friends might not feel receptive, you can act silently with great compassion.
And, of course, if someone has practiced during their own life, then spiritual practices can be very beneficial.