Friday, April 2, 2010

Partnering in Prayer - A Lenten Devotion - Day 45 - Prayers from the Cross

Day 45 – Good Friday
Prayers from the Cross

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46).
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Lk 23:34)
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (Lk 23:46).

Tonight at church, we followed the Stations of the Cross (a wonderful meditation, if you’ve never done it. At Station # 12, the author writes:

Dear Jesus, at this site I tried to hear your last words, your last breath! And during these long hours I heard you pray, pray, pray! Your words were words of dependence on the Father, words of hope in deliverance. Dear Lord, teach me how to pray. Teach me to open my heart to you and to feel the warmth of your love! Teach me to pray with the heart and not with words that come out of my lips like a river. How good it is Lord, that from this site, where you prayed and forgave, where you passed your last hours of pain, I can rise up and say aloud: "Our Father who are in heaven!" Yes Lord I can proclaim this because at this spot you gave up your life for me! Thank you Jesus!

What would I be doing if I were in the kind of agony Jesus was experiencing? As much as I hate to admit it, I’d probably be focusing totally on myself. But Jesus was focused on others. He showed concern for the salvation of the thief on the cross. He made sure his mother would be taken care of after he was gone. He prayed—and I believe his three prayers from the cross are a great model for the Christian life.

1. He sought God’s face. Yes, he did so in despair and defeat (victory wouldn’t come until Easter). But that’s even more important for me to see—that even in despair and defeat, Jesus sought God’s face. He didn’t just trust God when times were good, but he desperately wanted to know God’s presence in his hour of need.

2. He sought the forgiveness of others. If we’re to be like Christ, then we need to be about seeing others forgiven and restored.

3. He rested himself in God’s loving embrace. Rather than striving any longer, Jesus decided it was time to give up the ghost. He decided when to breathe his last, and committed himself to God. We need to live as Jesus died, seeking God’s face, seeking the forgiveness of others, and totally committing ourselves to God.

If we can live as Jesus died, we’ll be doing ok. Pray, pray, pray—even when (and especially when) it hurts.

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