A Holy Week Prayer Program – 10 Saying of Jesus for 10 Days
Introduction: For ten days volunteers are invited to follow a holy week program of prayer that focuses on ten sayings of Jesus. These ten sayings include the seven saying of Jesus spoken while he was on the cross and three sayings after his crucifixion. The program begins on Saturday before Palm Sunday, and it ends on Easter Monday. Volunteers are invited to focus their attention on one of the saying of Jesus each day. Accompanying the saying is a brief devotional thought and a central prayer request that focuses upon the church and its community. Volunteers who also want to give greater attention to the last week of the life of Jesus of Nazareth may want to read the account of the last week as recorded in the four Gospels.
The seven sayings of Jesus are found in the Gospels. After a night of trials and an early morning retrial Jesus was sentenced by the Jewish leaders to be crucified. He hung on the cross from 9 AM to 3 PM. During those hours he uttered the seven last sayings.
The three additional sayings represent events during the days that followed the crucifixion. They are saying of Jesus taken from the ministry of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, and the ascension of Jesus.
Volunteers may use the ten-day program in different ways. One may simply read the saying for the day, the devotional, and the prayer. More thoughtful readers may choose to recite the saying of Jesus throughout the day. Reciting the daily saying during the morning, noon, and night times allows the thoughtful reader to remain in touch with the sayings of Jesus throughout the day. Finally, some readers who desire to dig deeper may read the sayings in context in the Gospels and investigate the many ways they relate to Jesus’ life and ministry.
Day 1, Saturday
The first saying: Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
Devotional thought: As he hung upon a cross Jesus would have been justified if he had cursed his enemies, but the first saying upon the lips of Jesus on the cross is a prayer to God for forgiveness. Jesus has every reason to withhold forgiveness, yet he offers forgiveness as an act of grace.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, Allow me to experience the grace of your forgiveness, and allow me by the power of your Holy Spirit to forgive others. I make the words of Jesus my prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Day 2, Sunday
The second saying: Luke 23:43 “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Devotional thought: Jesus was crucified between two thieves. They were justly condemned for their crimes. One mocked Jesus, and the other believed that Jesus would reign as Lord. To the believer Jesus made a promise. The promise was that of hope and life with Jesus. Preachers and theologians have debated if the thief on the cross was saved or not. Let us not be so eager to be theologically correct that we miss the point. As Savior, Jesus has the right to dictate the terms of salvation or death. He chose to offer hope and life.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, in my life I have a choice. I may deny my own wrongdoings and then ridicule your innocence. Or I can acknowledge my own wrongdoings and ask for your mercy. I choose to believe and obey you, so that I may be blessed to hear you say these words to me, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Day 3, Monday
The third saying: John 19:26, 27: “He said to his mother, Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple “Behold your mother!”
Devotional thought: We find ourselves situated in the social circles of family, work, and church. Some are young and others are elderly, but in every circle of our life there are persons who are dependent upon us for care giving. In Jesus’ earthly life he became the primary care giver for his mother. In those hours that preceded his death he continued to care for his mother, and he entrusted her to the safekeeping of John, the beloved disciple. Jesus believed that care giving was a sacred trust.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we remember that you have delegated to us the sacred trust of giving care to others. Some who are young and others who are aging depend upon us. May we find and fulfill that sacred trust of care giving as we repeat your word from the cross, “Behold your mother.”
Day 4, Tuesday
The fourth saying: Matthew 27:46: “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, La’ma sabachtha’ni” that is, “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?”
Devotional thought: The one Psalm that Jesus audibly recites from the cross is the twenty-second Psalm. It begins with a heart-wrenching question, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Later the Apostle Paul was to write in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He who knew no sin became sin for us.” On the cross Jesus felt the pain of alienation from God. If we read the remainder of the twenty-second Psalm, we find it does not end in despair. The Psalmist like Jesus clung to the hope that reconciliation to God would be complete. In the end love was to overcome the separation brought on by sin.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, what you endured for us in body and spirit is beyond measure. When we feel unloved and God forsaken, may your very words come back to reassure us that you know and you care. We repeat your words spoken on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Day 5, Wednesday
The fifth saying: John 19:28: “After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), “I thirst.”
Devotional thought: Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus had fed multitudes, healed the afflicted, and cared for the dying. Is it so hard to believe that Jesus was a man of flesh and blood who felt bodily pains like the rest of us? Hebrews 4:15 tells us Jesus was tempted in all manner as we are. Jesus does know our every weakness.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I remember your hours on the cross I am reminded that you too felt what it is like to live bodily, that is, in the flesh. We remember that you endured bodily suffering to the very end as we recite your words spoken on the cross, “I thirst.”
Day 6, Thursday
The sixth saying: John 19:30: “When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished.”
Devotional thought: During his earthly life Jesus had a unique mission. He came to seek and to save the lost. In John 10: 11 Jesus says he is the good shepherd, and on the cross he laid down his life for the sheep. We say an athlete is spent, when exhaustion stops them in their tracks as they attempt to give it their all. Jesus never abandoned his mission to rescue the lost, and it cost him his life.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we remember your death on the cross may we remember that you allowed yourself to be crucified to fulfill the will of the Father. We remember that you offered a perfect sacrifice as we recite your words spoken on the cross, “It is finished.”
Day 7, Good Friday
The seventh saying: Luke 23:46: “Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice said, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
Devotional thought: Life is a gift from the Father above. God gives life. From its beginning humanity in its confusion and dereliction has given away life and has chosen to die. To redeem a life lost another life had to be sacrificed. John 3:16 tells us that God gave the life of his son, Jesus, to give us everlasting life. With his dying breath Jesus gave back to God the Father the life he was given that he might become the giver of eternal life, our Savior.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, the last words you spoke upon the cross remind us of your absolute trust in God. May we trust in God’s love demonstrated in your sacrifice as we recite your words spoken on the cross, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”
Day 8, Saturday
An eighth saying: Matthew 27:62-63: Next day, that is, the day after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive,’ After three days I will rise.’”
Devotional thought: After the great confession of Peter, Jesus began to teach his disciples that he would die upon a cross. If we are mortal, we all must die. Our bodily remains will be laid to rest. That was not the end of Jesus’ prophesy. Jesus prophesied that he would rise from the dead never to die again. When a believer is lowered into a baptismal pool, the believer must have faith that he or she will be lifted out of the waters. Jesus had faith in God that he would be raised from the grave on the third day. He trusted God for life eternal.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, during your ministry you prophesied of your death and of your resurrection. We believe that you are Lord of the church both now and forever as we recite the words spoken by you during your ministry, “After three days I will rise.”
Day 9, Easter Sunday
A ninth saying: John 20:15: “Jesus said to [Mary], Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?”
Devotional thought: Early on Sunday morning the women came to tomb to dress the body of Jesus, but the body was not there. God the Father had fulfilled the promise and raised Jesus from the dead. Tears of sorrow were turned into tears of joy. I Thessalonians 5:13 reminds us that the believer’s sorrow is not like that of the world. Hope lifts us above the hopelessness of the grave. The bond of love conquers even death.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we praise God that you are raised to live forever. We thank you for sharing the love of the Father with us. Armed with the hope of life eternal we repeat your words spoken to Mary on the first Easter Sunday, “Why are you weeping?”
Day 10, Monday
A tenth saying: Matthew 28:18-20: And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them n the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.
Devotional thought: The Gospels bear witness to the life, ministry, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. In Philippians 2:11 we are reminded that every tongue should confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Before Jesus ascended he gave a commission to his followers. He asked that they go and make disciples of all nations.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we remember how you gave the great commission to your followers before you ascended to the Father. We pray that you will empower us to fulfill that mission as we recite the words you spoke to your followers, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”