Prayers From The Cross
by Sharon Paskewitz
The sorrow of the cross of Jesus is often so profound that if we ponder it we find ourselves beyond words. We find that we are in a silent world where God teaches our minds and spirits the value of Christ's dying words. For on the cross the last words of Jesus's human life were spoken. Like in every word spoken by Jesus there is much to learn. These final words were prayers. Through studying these prayers we come to learn the true value of all prayer. Jesus was the Son of God but He was also Human. The fact that His dying words were prayers shows a committed life to prayer. He knew this was not an easy commitment. No one can experience a true life of meaningful prayer without a deep commitment. This is clearly seen in Jesus's prayer of "Into Thy hands I commend My Spirit, (Luke 23:46). Jesus was committing Himself to a new life of prayer. Every day of our life Jesus is praying for you and me. We take comfort in knowing that we are in His prayers. In preparation for this new life of prayer we read in Scripture references to Jesus praying (Luke 11:1, John 17). In John 17: 20-24 Jesus prayed for us even before the cross when he prayed "also for those who will believe in Me (Jesus), through their message." (John 17:20)
Jesus also encouraged us to pray in the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). He was not only preparing Himself for a life of prayer but encouraging us to do the same. If we are to be like Jesus, we must make the focus of our life to be prayer.
A life of prayer is hard when friends betray you, or do you bodily harm. Jesus prayed about such things. As He was dying he prayed, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they have done (Luke 23:34)." A lack of forgiveness makes us insensitive to spiritual things. It hinders our prayers because we focus on the wrong that has been done. Instead we need to let it go and focus on God. Jesus did not want His wants to be anything less then perfect in love. Jesus prayed for forgiveness so that the people would be convicted and righteousness would be restored. If you are having trouble following the example of Christ, give the hurt to God, forgive the person who has wronged you, no matter how unjust the offense may be. Once you have followed the example of Christ, you will feel release in your spirit, as Christ wants your relationship with God to be restored. This is what He also wanted for the people who had harmed Him. No matter who you are or what you have done Jesus prays the prayer of forgiveness so that a relationship with God is renewed.
Another prayer Jesus prayed is "I thirst (John 19:28)." He did not pray this because He needed an earthly drink. He longed for the reassuring hand of God upon Him. When life is discouraging, prayer is like God's water upon our spirits. In the times of despair we have two choices- we can give up or fold our hands in prayer. If we chose as Christ did to pray we will know the healing rain of God's assuring Spirit upon us.
On the cross Jesus spoke in a loud voice the prayer "My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken Me (Matthew 27:45, Psalms 22:1)." In Greek this produces the meaning, "Why didst Thou forsake Me." Because this is combined with a loud voice there is the suggestion that the forsaking has ended. The shout refers to victory and shows that Jesus knew the victory before He gave up the Spirit. In the psalm reference there is the hope of deliverance. When we are overcome, we may feel God has abandoned us. By praying this prayer in this way, Jesus reminds us that God will bring deliverance and victory.
Even in the conversation Jesus had with the thief (Luke 23: 32-43), He was setting a pattern for prayer. In telling the thief on the cross that he would be in paradise, Jesus was speaking of the heavenly paradise we can have on earth and in Heaven. Every time we pray, we come into the Paradise of the presence of God.
Another conversation Jesus had on the cross put prayer in action. While He was dying, He became concerned about His mother. She stood at the bottom of the cross and next to her stood a beloved disciple (John 19:25-27). To His mother Jesus said, "Woman, behold your son", and to the disciple He said, "Behold your mother." The sentence after that statement says that the disciple took her into his home. Jesus knew His mother would be cared for by the disciple. His brothers apparently could not care for her instantly. Whenever we serve others we are putting prayer into action. By answering Jesus, the disciple was serving Jesus and his mother. Later in Acts 1:14 Mary was grouped with His brothers. The two passages together may suggest that a relationship with Christ is within prayer. All prayer is strengthened by service to others.
As Jesus breathed His last breath, He said that it is finished (John 19:30). His time on earth was complete. He offered himself to God spotless. His work was completed on earth. The work in Heaven of prayer could be. Start the season of prayer today. Offer yourself to Jesus daily in prayer. Ask God to help you pray and continue in prayer. He will build his good works in you (Philippians 1:3-6).
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