Pray the Seven Words of Jesus from the Cross

One way to observe Good Friday and make it a day of prayer and gratitude

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Posted in , Mar 24, 2016

How to observe Good Friday.

There are many ways to observe Good Friday, the day that commemorates Jesus’ crucifixion, His willing sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Some people will participate in special worship services. Some churches will host three hours of prayer and worship intended to reflect the sufferings of Jesus on the cross. Some people will fast. Others will pray through the Stations of the Cross.

Whatever you may do, consider praying through the “Seven Words” Jesus uttered during His agony. Here is a way to do that:

1)  Extend forgiveness.
In the midst of His execution, Jesus prayed for those whose very actions would cause not only His pain but also His death: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NIV). So, like Jesus, pray for those who have hurt you or offended you and ask for the grace to forgive and to keep on forgiving, as often and as long as necessary.

2)  Pray for others to draw closer to God.
To the repentant thief who was crucified next to Him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43, NIV). How fitting that even as He was dying, Jesus was escorting someone into eternal life. So take a few moments on your Good Friday to pray for those among your family and friends who have not yet experienced the love and life that is found through faith in Jesus Christ.

3)  Pray for those in need.
John’s Gospel records Jesus taking the time and effort—from the cross!—to place His mother, Mary, into the care of His faithful follower, John: “Woman, here is your son” (John 19:26, NIV). That striking and intimate detail reminds us that Jesus cares for our practical wellbeing. So, like Jesus, who asked John to care for Mary, take thought on Good Friday for others and pray for the practical needs of those around you.

4)  Pray for the lonely.
When Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34, NIV), He was echoing the abandonment and desperation of the messianic Psalm 22. That loneliness afflicts many in your community, and perhaps even in your church and family. So spend some time praying for the lonely people around you and ask Jesus to make Himself known to them and be especially close to them.

5)  Pray for those in pain.
Jesus experienced extreme dehydration while on the cross. His thirst would have been excruciating (that word itself comes from the horrors of crucifixion). So He cried out, “I thirst!” (John 19:28, NKJV). Let Jesus’ shortest saying from the cross prompt prayers for those who are in pain—those in the hospital, in rehab, in sick beds or undergoing treatment.

6)  Place yourself in God’s hands.
Jesus quoted another psalm (31:5) when He prayed, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46, NIV). There is no better time than Good Friday to consciously and reverently place yourself in God’s hands—to surrender anew your spirit, your life, your concerns, your future, your hopes and dreams into His loving and omnipotent care.

7)  Give thanks for Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice.
Jesus’ last words on the cross—“It is finished!” (John 19:30, NIV)—are rich in meaning. At that very hour—perhaps that very moment—the Pascal Lamb was killed in the Temple. As the high priest sacrificed the lamb, he spoke a single word in Hebrew—Kalah—signifying the ultimate sacrifice of the day. The word means “It is finished.” Jesus, with His dying breath, identified Himself as “Christ, our Passover lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7).  The work is done. There is no work left for you to do. Nothing to prove. Nothing to earn. No striving. No “try,” only “take.” So give thanks.

However else you may observe Good Friday, make it a day of prayer and gratitude, as exemplified in the “seven words from the cross.”

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