Today we will examine the three distinct prayers of Jesus, our Redeemer, while he suffered on the cross. As Lent 2021 begins and soon the observance of Easter what better prayers to look at than those of Jesus Christ, as we continue this series on prayer. After all, he is the Master, Teacher above all teachers, and the only one unstained by sin.
As we unpack elements of each prayer, we will see what each prayer reveals about Jesus’ character and purpose. I hope that we will begin to have times of prayer that emulate those of our Savior as we seek to follow his example.
Prayer of Forgiveness
“Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34, CSB). Jesus uses Father, the relational term of endearment, to address God. This is a declaration of the bond of love and attachment between Father and Son. Believers are children adopted into the family of God; therefore, we too can address God as our Father. What a blessed privilege.
Who are the “them” that Jesus is requesting to forgive? It is easy to conclude, it would be the Roman soldiers who mocked him and nailed him to the cross, Pilate who succumbed to the agitated mob, the riot roused crowds demanding his crucifixion, Peter who denied him, the Sanhedrin who falsely accused him, and Judas who betrayed him. But Jesus included you and me in the “them” as well. My sins and your sins caused Jesus to willingly suffer an excruciating and violent death so that we could be set free from the bondage and penalty of sin.
In some of his final words, Jesus Christ became an example of his own teachings, “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses” (Matthew 6:14-15, CSB).
Prayer of Anguish
“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’” (Matthew 27:46, CSB). This was not a prideful questioning of the Father’s intentions. Jesus had already settled with that when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. He relinquished his human desires to Father God’s will.
This prayer is a cry of intense raw emotion as Jesus felt the full retribution of our sins upon himself. I doubt we can fully grasp or imagine the depth of suffering he endured on the cross. There was emotional torture that may have surpassed the physical agony and torment inflicted upon his body.
Yet Jesus trusted Father God’s compassion and understanding. God’s sympathy is far greater than any earthly father who takes his wailing, inconsolable, suffering child into his arms and draws the child to his bosom of safety and solace. But on this occasion, Jesus feels the pain of Father God turning away from our wretched sin. Oh, what pain!
In this prayer of Jesus and many in Psalms, we see that it is okay to express gut-wrenching despair to our Father in Heaven, provided we don’t disregard God’s Sovereign rule. Like Jesus, we too can trust in God’s compassion and understanding.
Prayer of Resolution
“And Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.’ Saying this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46, CSB). In his dying breath, Jesus is unwavering in complete surrender to the Father.
Do you see the sequence Jesus went through in his prayers? He forgives, next he endures the emotional pain and anguish of the act of forgiving and finishes with placid acceptance of God’s plan. All summed up, it equals a magnificent victory in the heavenly realms. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12, CSB).
Readers, let us become imitators of Jesus in life and in our prayers.
Father God, thank You for executing Your flawless plan through Jesus. Thank You for granting us the same means to forgive as You have forgiven. Lord, thank You for making it possible to endure all that touches our lives for the glorification of Your name. Keep us focused on You and the fulfillment of Your will. Cause us to live exemplary lives and finish well. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, grandmother, great-grandmother, foster care parent, and trauma survivor. I enjoy sipping tea, writing devotionals, prayers, short stories, and unburdening my heart to the Lord. Check the About page if you want to read more of my story.
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Image of Jesus Christ by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.