Over the next six weeks until Easter, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite resources from www.soulshepherding.com. This prayer guide to praying the Stations of the Cross, I believe, will take you to a new place in your devotional life as you prepare for the Easter season. Because of its length, I will be posting an abridged version over the weeks. Here is the introduction and beginning station:
Introduction: The Stations of the Cross make a journey of prayer that brings to life the events connected with the passion of Jesus Christ. It’s a devotional practice that can be life-changing for you!
Jerome records that in the 4th Century pilgrims traveled to Jerusalem to visit the holy sites connected with Jesus, especially the Via Dolorosa, which is the route Jesus walked as he carried his cross from Pilate’s house to Calvary Hill where he was crucified.
In ancient times pilgrims started making carvings and drawing pictures to take the gospel scenes of Christ and his cross home with them. Through devotional use they internalized the stations and experienced greater intimacy with Jesus. Over time what emerged was a standard prayer walk of fifteen stations (using the resurrection as the last one) for the Christ-follower to pause to mediate on Scripture and to pray.
You may not be familiar with the stations, but they are not just for Catholics, they are for all Christ-followers. Ten of the fifteen stations come straight out of the Bible. The other five (stations 2,4,6,7 and 9) are legends that teach valuable Biblical truths, but may not be historical.
To help you join me in opening your heart to Christ and the abundant life that comes through his cross and resurrection, I have prepared for you a series of Biblical meditations and prayers based on the ancient Stations of the Cross.
Two Crosses: This devotional practice really includes two crosses: Jesus’ and the disciple’s. Again and again Jesus said that the two go together: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me…” Luke 9:23, 24
Yet, most Christians focus only on what Christ did for them at the cross and not their response of taking up their own cross and so they miss out on the life of Christ with them in their daily life.
Our Format: My goal is to help you experiences the Stations of the Cross with Jesus Christ and to apply them to the opportunities and challenges of your life in Christ today. To help you do this I’ve selected Bible passages for each station, each one highlighting a different Bible Character’s relationship with Christ for you to identify with.
Each devotional concludes with a Bible-Based Breath Prayer (See blog on breath prayers). You might try breathing in slowly as you whisper or think the first half of the prayer and then breathing out with the second half. You can also use this little prayer to intercede for someone else by inserting that person’s name in the prayer.
It’s best to go slow in your reading, reflections, and prayers so that you can absorb the gospel of Christ more deeply and incorporate it into your life.
Be Free of Condemnation – 1st Station: Jesus is Condemned by the Sanhedrin and Pilate
Praise the Lord – I praise you Lord Jesus Christ. By your cross you gave us your life and showed us how to life.
Read Scripture: Isaiah 53:7, Mark 14:56, 61, 62; 15:3-5, Romans 8:1
Contemplate in Silence
Consider Your Need for Christ – God never wants you to live under condemnation. Jesus’ response to the religious leaders and Pilate shows us the secret to live free of criticism and the pressure to perform: rest quietly in the security of the Father’s love.
Many Christ followers struggle painfully with guilt. They condemn themselves for their sins and other perceived failures like disappointing themselves or others. God does not want you to feel guilty – even if you sin. Guilt is never good because it leads to shame, hiding, trying to do better, or giving into sin to feel better for awhile.
The godly and helpful response when you sin is to feel sad that you’ve rejected Christ and hurt someone else and yourself; and then to immediately confess your sin and seek God’s mercy through Christ. If you’re suffering false guilt because you’ve disappointed yourself or someone else then you need to get out from under those expectations, stop being defensive or angry and be honest about who you are and what you’ve done. Learn to abandon the outcomes of situations – including what people think about you – to the Lord. Trust his judgments, submit yourself to him in all things, and find security in his love.
If you struggle with guilt you’re prone to put it on other people too. Of course, condemnation is just as damaging and wrong for them as it is for you—they need God’s mercy and grace through Christ just as much as you do! Getting free of self-condemnation is essential for learning to live a life of love for God and others.
Pray: Lord Jesus Christ, when you were wrongly condemned by the religious leaders and by Pilate you didn’t defend yourself – you remained quiet, resting secure in your Father’s approval. In the light of your holiness it is clear that you alone are the true judge.
O Jesus, forgive me for times I have been judgmental. Strengthen me to share your grace with those who are wrong or struggling. And when I am judged help me not to be defensive or react in anger, but to keep silence with you, knowing that you will make things right in your time and htat now and alwys you embrace me in the Father’s love.
Reflect: Have you felt judged recently? Have you been judging others? What would it mean for you to rely on Jesus and the grace of God with you in these situations?
Take up your Cross to Follow Jesus: Perhaps you need to give up judgmentalism—accepting it from others or doing it to others—and learn to rest quietly with Jesus in the Father’s approval for you and others.
Abide in Christ: Consider a situation in which you have been (or probably will be) criticized and slowly repeat this breath prayer “Jesus….I keep silence with you” (Habakkuk 2:20; Mark 14:61)