One of the most somber and beautiful days of remembrance in the Christian calendar happens two days before Easter Sunday. On the Friday of Passover, Jesus was unlawfully tried and sentenced to die upon a cross. Because of his sacrifice, he paid the penalty for our sins and granted us the opportunity to be purified of our iniquity. On that Easter Sunday, he arose, conquering death and allowing us to come into an eternal relationship and life with him.
Many churches will often hold a service for Good Friday, to remember the agonizing pain and suffering Jesus underwent for us. Before or after the service, we may wonder how to best commemorate the life and death of Jesus on that Good Friday. For that, we suggest gathering with friends and family and participating in a Good Friday prayer.
Even if you don’t have the “right words” to say, it does not matter. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us and translates our groanings (Romans 8:26). But we’d love to provide a template in case you find yourself at a loss of words on this sobering occasion.
What Is a Good Scripture for Good Friday?
We recommend turning to all the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial and death during Good Friday. You can find such accounts in the first four books of the Gospel. Although we won’t include all of the passages in full below (Matthew 27:32-61, Mark 15:33-39, Luke 23, and John 19:1-37), we’ll include an excerpt from some of the passages. Please feel free, prior to your prayer, to read one or all of the accounts held within the Gospels to understand what happened on this day.
Matthew 27:32-37: “As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
Mark 15:33-39: “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.” Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said. With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Luke 23:1-6: “Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.”
John 19:1-6: “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”
What Happened on Good Friday?
As seen in the passages above, Jesus is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and put on trial. A number of false witnesses come against him in a kangaroo court. After bouncing back and forth between officials, including Pilate (who tortures Jesus), the Jewish people sentence Jesus to death by crucifixion.
Jesus dies on the cross, flanked by two thieves. In the hour of his passing, the world turns dark, and the curtain to the temple tears in two.
What Time Do We Pray on Good Friday?
We may wonder if we should pray at a specific time on Good Friday. God loves to hear our prayers at all times. However, if you want to pray during the time of Jesus’ death, he died at 3 p.m. in his time. If you want to pray at 3 p.m. (or 15:00) in your time to remember, you can. But if you want to pray in the exact hour of his death, I suggest comparing the Israel Time Zone with yours. For instance, I live in the Eastern Time Zone. 3 p.m. in Israel would be 8 A.M. where I live. So if I wanted to pray at the exact hour, I would do so at 8 A.M. my time.
But, again, you don’t have to pray at any specific time to remember the Lord on Good Friday.
A Good Friday Prayer of Thanks
Sweet and Precious Jesus, on this day I reflect upon the events of Good Friday. Even though they tried you unlawfully and sentenced you to death, you did not open your mouth in protest. I stand amazed at all you have done for me. That my God in heaven cared so much about my salvation that he lived the life I should have lived and died a brutal death. Jesus, so often I can forget everything you have done for me as I go about my days. I can never say thank you enough for your sacrifice on the cross. I surrender to you daily and am at a loss for words. Amen.
Christians can often get uncomfortable about Good Friday. Jesus had died in a cruel way, and to think he had done so for us can often seem unfathomable at times.
But we must remember and think on this day, just as much as we do on Easter Sunday. Good Friday reminds us of the gravity of our sins, and how much God was willing to sacrifice to be reunited in a relationship with us. Even though we do recognize the solemn nature of Good Friday, we wait in anticipation for the Resurrection Sunday where we can, at last, declare, “He is risen!”
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Hope Bolinger is an editor at Salem, literary agent at C.Y.L.E., and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 1,000 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy released its first two installments with IlluminateYA, and the final one, Vision, releases in August of 2021. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in October of 2021. Find out more about her at her website.
This article is part of our prayer resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.