How to Pray When Your Hands Are Tied

How should we pray when our hands are tied (or possibly even nailed… to a cross)?

You might remember Jesus’ prayer as he looked down on the crowd gathered around his cross at Golgotha.

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

Wow! That’s a powerful prayer when your hands are tied and you are looking at the very people who did the tying. Don’t forget, to add insult to injury they had driven nails through those same hands.

In praying for the forgiveness of his crucifiers, Jesus at one and the same time made peace with his circumstances and with the people who created the circumstances.

You may well have people in your life who have tied your hands, and who have added insult to their injury of you. But you too, through a prayer of forgiveness can make peace with your circumstances and with the people who did this to you.

You might also recall the criminal’s prayer. Don’t forget, his hands were tied too.

“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.'” (Luke 23:42, NIV).

Sometimes when there’s nothing more we can do in this life, we need to come back to an eternal focus. That’s what the criminal did. In the end, he put first things first, and remembered his deepest spiritual needs. Then he asked Jesus not for rescue from the crucifixion, but rather for deliverance into Jesus’ eternal kingdom.

I’m reminded of something Augustine once said, “Earthly things are indeed beautiful and fair, though lowly and slight compared to the beauties high and blessed.”

It’s a great reminder we get from this criminal as he prays from a cross. When life goes horribly off the rails and we are in pain — and there seems to be nothing we can do about it — it’s good to keep eternity in view.

Our Bible reading for Sunday, April 26, is Joshua 9:16 – 10:43, Luke 23:26-56 and Proverbs 10:21-30.

Lord Jesus, help me to always stay focused on your forgiveness and the hope of eternal life that you have given me. Help me to forgive others, and even to pray for the forgiveness of those who have hurt and angered me. Most importantly, give me an eternal perspective in my prayer life, and remember me when you come into your kingdom.

Header image based on "with me in paradise" by Waiting for the Word, CC By 2.0