An Imaginative Prayer Practice for Good Friday

This imaginative prayer practices invites you to into the story of the crucifixion of Jesus. Follow the instructions below to engage in a meaningful time of prayer.

 

1. Find Stillness.

Find a comfortable seat and silence the noise around you so you can be fully present here and now. Acknowledge the presence of God meeting you in the place where you are.  Perhaps you take a few deep inhales and full exhales with your eyes closed to help you become fully present right here, right now.

 

2. Read the Passage.

Read the selection of verses from Mark belowAs you read, allow your mind to be flooded with imagery of what you would imagine it would be like to be present. Perhaps the idea of imagining yourself as a ‘fly on the wall’ of this first reading:

“They brought Jesus to the execution site called Golgotha, which means “Skull Hill.” There they offered him a mild painkiller, a drink of wine mixed with gall, but he refused to drink it.

They nailed his hands and feet to the cross. The soldiers divided his clothing among themselves by rolling dice to see who would win them. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they finally crucified him.

Above his head they placed a sign with the inscription of the charge against him, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.” Two criminals were also crucified with Jesus, one on each side of him. This fulfilled the Scripture that says:
He was considered to be a criminal.

Those who passed by shook their heads and spitefully ridiculed him, saying, “Aha! You boasted that you could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. 30Why don’t you save yourself now? Just come down from the cross!” Even the ruling priests and the religious scholars joined in the mockery and kept laughing among themselves, saying, “He saved others, but he can’t even save himself! Israel’s king, is he? Let the ‘Messiah,’ the ‘king of Israel,’ pull out the nails and come down from the cross right now. We’ll believe it when we see it!” Even the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus began to taunt him, hurling insults on him.

For three hours, beginning at noon, darkness came over the earth. About three o’clock, Jesus shouted with a mighty voice in Aramaic, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”—that is, “My God, My God, why have you turned your back on me?”
Some who were standing near the cross misunderstood and said, “Listen! He’s calling for Elijah.” One bystander ran and got a sponge, soaked it with sour wine, then put it on a stick and held it up for Jesus to drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes to rescue him.” Just then Jesus passionately cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom.
When the Roman military officer who was standing right in front of Jesus saw how he died, he said, “There is no doubt this man was the Son of God!”

Watching from a distance, away from the crowds, were many of the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and had cared for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jacob the younger and Joseph, and Salome. Many other women who had followed him to Jerusalem were there too.”

 

3. Be Present.

Read the passage again and, this time, imagine being present with the women of the story…

They were at a distance, watching.
Witnessing.
Taking it all in.
Be there with them as you take it all in.

“They brought Jesus to the execution site called Golgotha, which means “Skull Hill.” There they offered him a mild painkiller, a drink of wine mixed with gall, but he refused to drink it.

They nailed his hands and feet to the cross. The soldiers divided his clothing among themselves by rolling dice to see who would win them. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they finally crucified him.

Above his head they placed a sign with the inscription of the charge against him, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.” Two criminals were also crucified with Jesus, one on each side of him. This fulfilled the Scripture that says:
He was considered to be a criminal.

Those who passed by shook their heads and spitefully ridiculed him, saying, “Aha! You boasted that you could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. 30Why don’t you save yourself now? Just come down from the cross!” Even the ruling priests and the religious scholars joined in the mockery and kept laughing among themselves, saying, “He saved others, but he can’t even save himself! Israel’s king, is he? Let the ‘Messiah,’ the ‘king of Israel,’ pull out the nails and come down from the cross right now. We’ll believe it when we see it!” Even the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus began to taunt him, hurling insults on him.

For three hours, beginning at noon, darkness came over the earth. About three o’clock, Jesus shouted with a mighty voice in Aramaic, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”—that is, “My God, My God, why have you turned your back on me?”
Some who were standing near the cross misunderstood and said, “Listen! He’s calling for Elijah.” One bystander ran and got a sponge, soaked it with sour wine, then put it on a stick and held it up for Jesus to drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes to rescue him.” Just then Jesus passionately cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom.
When the Roman military officer who was standing right in front of Jesus saw how he died, he said, “There is no doubt this man was the Son of God!”

Watching from a distance, away from the crowds, were many of the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and had cared for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jacob the younger and Joseph, and Salome. Many other women who had followed him to Jerusalem were there too.”

 

4. Live the Story.

As you read, take the time to reflect on the the woman of the story and your experience as one in the story.
What might they have been feeling?
What might they have been thinking?
What kinds of questions may have been racing through their minds and welling up in their hearts?
How would they have wanted to relieve Jesus of what he was going through? Would they have been holding themselves back from running up to Him and trying to get him down? Would their eyes be averted as they witnessed the pain of the one they loved so dearly? Would their eyes be locked on Him, expecting Him to do something?
Notice what you imagine it would be like to be there with them. What are your responses to the story? What are you feeling as you watch the cruelty and injustice inflicted on your friend, Jesus? 

 

“They brought Jesus to the execution site called Golgotha, which means “Skull Hill.” There they offered him a mild painkiller, a drink of wine mixed with gall, but he refused to drink it.

They nailed his hands and feet to the cross. The soldiers divided his clothing among themselves by rolling dice to see who would win them. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they finally crucified him.

Above his head they placed a sign with the inscription of the charge against him, which read, “This is the King of the Jews.” Two criminals were also crucified with Jesus, one on each side of him. This fulfilled the Scripture that says:
He was considered to be a criminal.

Those who passed by shook their heads and spitefully ridiculed him, saying, “Aha! You boasted that you could destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. 30Why don’t you save yourself now? Just come down from the cross!” Even the ruling priests and the religious scholars joined in the mockery and kept laughing among themselves, saying, “He saved others, but he can’t even save himself! Israel’s king, is he? Let the ‘Messiah,’ the ‘king of Israel,’ pull out the nails and come down from the cross right now. We’ll believe it when we see it!” Even the two criminals who were crucified with Jesus began to taunt him, hurling insults on him.

For three hours, beginning at noon, darkness came over the earth. About three o’clock, Jesus shouted with a mighty voice in Aramaic, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”—that is, “My God, My God, why have you turned your back on me?”
Some who were standing near the cross misunderstood and said, “Listen! He’s calling for Elijah.” One bystander ran and got a sponge, soaked it with sour wine, then put it on a stick and held it up for Jesus to drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah comes to rescue him.” Just then Jesus passionately cried out with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the veil in the Holy of Holies was torn in two from the top to the bottom.
When the Roman military officer who was standing right in front of Jesus saw how he died, he said, “There is no doubt this man was the Son of God!”

Watching from a distance, away from the crowds, were many of the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee and had cared for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jacob the younger and Joseph, and Salome. Many other women who had followed him to Jerusalem were there too.”

 

5. Reflect with God.

Take some time to reflect on your experience with God. What was it like for you to imagine yourself fully present to the crucifixion? How would witnessing something so traumatic impact you? How are you feeling now as you sit here on Friday, unaware of what Sunday will hold. Allow yourself to feel this discomfort, sadness, grief, anger. Notice where you feel it in your body. Notice how living the story through imaginative prayer transforms a familiar story into something deeper. 

Take as much time as you’d like reflecting and close your time with God in a way that feels authentic to you. It could be reading through the passage one more time, taking a deep inhale and exhale, or imagining God present with you right here and now, offering you comfort as you experience.

 

As you lean into ‘Good’ Friday, take time to be intentional.