The Fifth Prayer of the Cross: The Abandonment Prayer

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August 7, 2018

Luke 23:44-46

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

CONSIDER THIS

Life always happens on two planes simultaneously. Those two planes are, “on earth,” and “in heaven.” There is the plain sense of unfolding events and there is the deeper meaning. We see it in dramatic fashion on Good Friday. On earth we see the standard administration of a first century death penalty. More unusually, we see a solar eclipse and an earthquake. We see the base coarseness of the human race as they hurl insults at this Galilean peasant. Even the criminals who flanked him insulted him. On earth there is nothing religious or holy or sacred or anything of the sort happening.

In heaven—which mind you is not somewhere in the distance, but right, here right now—something altogether different is taking place. We behold a conversation taking place between the Father and the Son. From what we can perceive, there are five things the Son says to the Father over the course of these proceedings. At the risk of confining them to our own thin, conventional categories, we call them the prayers of the Cross. They are, in fact, inexhaustible wells of divine revelation. They show us the way of “in heaven” in the face of trial and tribulation “on earth.”

Today we come to the fifth and final prayer of the Cross—which we will call the Abandonment Prayer.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

On earth, this scene playing out on the outskirts of Jerusalem looks like a travesty of justice with Jesus of Nazareth as the victim. He refuses this role, opting instead for the story of willful love, of costly obedience, of no matter what, win or lose, I belong to you, Father.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

We see the essence and contours of this final prayer of the Cross woven throughout the other four.

THE GLORY PRAYER

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” John 12:27-28.

THE GETHSEMANE PRAYER

36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36. 

THE FORGIVENESS PRAYER

34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

THE FORSAKENNESS PRAYER

34 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?”). Mark 15:34

Far from the victim of grave injustice, Jesus is the champion of eternal victory. The same is true in our lives with all our little crosses. There is the thing that is happening. Then there is the bigger thing unfolding. We see “on earth” but we walk by faith “in heaven.” As we navigate our crosses with the way being lit by these great beacon prayers of his Cross, God works out his purposes and plans.

The mark of maturity in this looks like a decreasing of so much complaining about our crosses to others and an increasing of our consecration to God in the midst of them. This Abandonment Prayer is a prayer of bold, beautiful trust.

If you will permit me a bit of a trite irreverence, this Abandonment Prayer is the secret sauce of the whole thing.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Allow me to address many of you personally and directly with this charge:

Christian, you belong to Jesus. The Word of God exhorts you without compromise:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3)

What you now face is hard, unfair, and even wrong and unjust. Renounce your victimhood and take up your cross. Boldly claim the following reality:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Abandon yourself to him again and again and again until the old you is no more and only Jesus remains. All of Creation waits for this person to be revealed. It has already begun. The way is the Cross. The path is descent. The secret is abandonment. The joy is eternal. He is getting you where he wants you, though the path seems wrong. It always does. 

Though you are tired, weak, and utterly incapable of facing the looming crosses ahead, you are a champion by the grace of God and the Cross of Jesus. Never forget it, and always remind me. Pray it boldly now:

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

THE PRAYER

Almighty Ascended Lord Jesus Christ, you are high and exalted yet nearer than our breath. Thank you for showing me the hidden way of love is the secret yet public way of the Cross. Save me from weak resignation that I might be filled with the Spirit’s power, which is love’s abandon. Right here, Jesus. Right now, Jesus. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Which prayer of the Cross are you most identifying with these days? Why? How is it leading you?
  2. Do you have any experience with intentionally praying the Abandonment Prayer? How will you grow in that experience?
  3. Do you struggle with being a victim? Let me ask it another way. Do you spend a lot of time complaining about other people and their defeating impact on you?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you! A copy of this Daily Text is now tucked inside the notebook alongside John Wesley’s collection of prayers that I have been reading each morning and evening. As I have discovered, a combination of voices from the communion of saints past and present that resonate off each other is a powerful presence indeed!

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