Holy week prayer is a practice Christians find helpful to focus our thoughts and prepare our hearts during the time we mark the most pivotal events of our faith. In these years impacted by social-distancing and pandemic modifications of our worship traditions, it’s more important than ever to develop a personal tradition of prayer and meditation during this holy time. It can be helpful to connect with a small group of like-minded believers to pray together in person or virtually.
With so many demands on our time and attention, opening and closing each day of Holy Week with prayer can quiet our hearts. It’s an important time to remember that the cross isn’t simply a piece of jewelry we wear or an icon we embrace, but it was a beautiful agony undertaken by our God, who loved us so much He sent His only Son to die so that we might have eternal life.
What Is Holy Week and What does the Bible Say about Holy Week?
Traditionally, Holy week begins each year with a celebration of Palm Sunday. Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Holy (or Spy) Wednesday follow. Then the week intensifies with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy (or Black) Saturday, and finally, Resurrection Sunday—Easter!
On Holy Tuesday, Jesus and His followers traveled to the Mount of Olives where He delivered the Olivet Discourse, touching on the destruction of the temple and signs of the end of the age. This is recorded in all four gospels, as well. (Matthew 21:23–Matthew 24:51, Mark 11:20–Mark 13:37, Luke 20:1–Luke 21:36, and John 12:20).
We have one biblical story from what many refer to as “silent” Wednesday. Matthew 26:6-13 describes a woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany. Immediately after this, Judas struck his deal to betray Jesus to the Pharisees (which is why some traditions refer to it as “Spy” Wednesday).
On Maundy Thursday, we know Jesus washed His disciples’ feet, celebrated the Passover with them, and retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, faced with the agony of the cross that lay ahead. It was there in the garden that Judas betrayed Him with a kiss. Read about the events of this day in Matthew 26:17–75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62, and John 13:1-38.
Jesus’ arrest and trial began in the early morning hours of Good Friday. It was on this day, He faced Pontius Pilate, Herod, the crowd demanding His crucifixion, the betrayal of Peter, and abandonment by His followers. He was mistreated, beaten, flogged, and eventually crucified in our place. He was laid in the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea. These events are recorded in Matthew 27:1-62, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:63-23, and John 18:28-19.
On Saturday, Jesus’ body lay in the tomb. It was through His death He paid the price for our sin, but He defeated death. Read about this day in these passages: Matthew 27:62-66, Mark 16:1, Luke 23:56, and John 19:40.
On Easter morning, the women went to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body to find the stone was rolled away and Jesus had risen from the dead as He said He would. We celebrate His resurrection every year with joyful worship! Jesus conquered sin and death and rose to life eternal. The gospel writers record these events in Matthew 28:1-13, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-49, and John 20:1-23.
Why Is it Important to Prepare Our Hearts for Easter?
Jesus’ actions during Holy Week are the culmination of generations of longing for the coming Messiah—God’s promised Redeemer. As we prepare to celebrate His resurrection, we are reminded that our forgiveness was bought with a price. We humble ourselves and recommit our lives to Jesus and to proclaiming His kingdom come to our generation and the next. Prayer positions us to be open to the work of His Holy Spirit in our lives and to revive our hearts in Christ.
16 Prayers for Holy Week—One for Each Day, Morning and Evening
Morning Prayer: Father God, Your Word is true, and You are faithful. You promised salvation through the Messiah and today we remember that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of our promised Redeemer. We acknowledge our need for salvation from our sins and rejoice that Jesus is our Deliverer. We celebrate Him today as King and ask that His Kingdom come in our lives, too. We praise You now and will praise You throughout the coming day, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Evening Prayer: Father God, thank You that Jesus came humbly, riding on a donkey, proclaiming peace. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem and for peace in our times. Make us instruments of your peace and guide us in the ministry of reconciliation. Our hearts bring loved ones to mind who have yet to acknowledge Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for their own sins. May they find peace in You as we have, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Morning prayer: Father God, Jesus declared that Your house would be a house of prayer. We are like living stones being built up as a spiritual house. Remind us today to pray without ceasing. This morning we confess our need for you and bring all our cares and concerns before Your throne. May we bring You honor and glory today with our thoughts, words, and actions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Evening prayer: Father God, we remember Jesus’ prayer from the cross for forgiveness for those who placed Him there. Thank you for bearing our sins and forgiving us every day. Tonight, we forgive the people who have sinned against us. Fill our hearts with the love, mercy, and grace that held You on that cross for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Morning Prayer: Father God, You promised a Messiah and He came, just as You said. We trust that we can count on His promised return when we will join Him forever. Make us people whose word can be trusted and who are faithful, in love, to You, to our families, and to our neighbors. Increase our faith and boldness to proclaim the truth of Jesus to the world. In His Name, we pray, Amen.
Evening Prayer: Father God, as our day ends, we recall the cross and the obedience Jesus demonstrated at Calvary. We fall so far short in our attempts at obedience but because of Jesus, we can confess our sins and know You are faithful to forgive. Tonight, we rest in that faithful forgiveness and thank you, again, for your plan of redemption. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Morning Prayer: Father God, as the woman in Bethany anointed Jesus with perfume, so we demonstrate our devotion through praise today. You are holy and just. You are beautiful and wise. You are merciful and full of grace. We praise the beautiful name of Jesus. We rejoice in You today and in Your Son. In Jesus’ name, we pray, full of praise, Amen.
Evening Prayer: Father God, As Jesus offered Himself for us on the cross, so we offer our lives to You. Make us the aroma of Christ. May the words we speak, the actions we take, and the inner workings of our hearts bring You joy. May our prayers rise like pleasing incense to Your throne. We live for Christ who died for us and lives forevermore. In His name, we pray. Amen.
Morning Prayer: Father God, Jesus demonstrated humble service in washing the feet of the apostles and humble obedience in submitting to Your will. May we be like Him today as we serve those around us and live for You. We humble ourselves before You. Show us how to live sacrificially and to extend ourselves for the poor, for the outcast, and for those who suffer around the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Evening Prayer: Father God, tonight we remember the agony of Jesus as He wept and prayed in Gethsemane. How He faced betrayal and desertion by those closest to Him. How He was mistreated, falsely accused, and beaten. How He was silent before His accusers and suffered all, to bring us life. We are humbled and full of gratitude. We are awed and full of love. We surrender all to You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Morning Prayer: Father God, how can we thank you enough for the sacrifice of Your Son on the cross of Calvary? Your plan of salvation is beautiful, and we rejoice that You’ve made a way for us to be in a relationship with You and to live with You forever. How we long for the world to know the truth and to participate in the redemption of Jesus Christ! We intercede this morning for all who don’t know You that they may hear the gospel and that their hearts would be fertile soil to receive the truth of Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Evening Prayer: Father God, tonight we are awed at the mystery of Christ’s death and all that He accomplished for us on the cross. We are humbled at such amazing love that gives all so that we might live. Jesus announced on the cross that “It is finished” and so tonight, we rest in faith that His sacrifice covers our sins. His grace is sufficient for us and for that we are truly thankful. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Morning Prayer: Father God, we can’t begin to understand the mystery of this day when Jesus’ body lay in the tomb and the disciples waited together in wonder and in prayer. For all those times when we can’t see You at work, for all the hours of waiting between prayers and answers, for all the times we walk by faith, we thank You that You’re patient with our restless wondering. You are at work even when we don’t see. Increase our faith, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Evening Prayer: Father God, tonight we come before You with silence. In the stillness, may we sense Your presence and know You are near. Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us. We know this full well. He demonstrated His love on the cross and we receive that love tonight. We praise You and honor You in silence and in peace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Morning Prayer: Father God, we rejoice! With all creation, we rejoice in You, in Your Son, and in Your Holy Spirit! Jesus is alive and we celebrate His life. His life is eternal, and we live because of Him! May Jesus’ resurrection be apparent in our life today and every day! Hallelujah! He is risen! He is risen, indeed! In Jesus’ name, we pray and rejoice! Amen.
Evening Prayer: Father God, our desire is for You today and every day. As Holy Week draws to a close, we renew our commitment to live for Jesus, who died for us and rose again. May our lives testify to the truth of Jesus and point the world toward His sacrifice on the cross, His resurrection, and to His anticipated return. Maranatha, Lord Jesus! Come soon. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Tinnakorn Jorruang
Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a blogger, speaker, coach, and disturber of hobbits who enjoys making comfortable Christians late for dinner. She’s authored four encouraging, unsettling books including Running from a Crazy Man and The Art of Hard Conversations. She speaks her mind at www.loriroeleveld.com.