The symbolism behind the Greek Orthodox Sign of the Cross can help us pray about Christ and his coming Kingdom. Each part of the gestures have profound meanings that help us identify with Christ and ask for His mercy.
The Meaning of the Way the Hand is Held
The right hand is held with the thumb, index finger and middle fingers held together at the tips to symbolize the Holy Trinity. Christians believe that God is one God in three persons God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. In Matthew Jesus tells us before He ascended to heaven, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19 NIV)
The ring finger and the little finger are held bent down touching the the palm. These two fingers represent the dual nature of Christ. Christians believe that Jesus was at the same time fully human and fully Divine. John says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14 NIV)
The Meaning of the Movement of the Hand
Touching the Head: This symbolizes that God is in heaven.
Touching the waist or stomach: This symbolizes that God came down to earth in the form of His Son Jesus Christ to save us.
Touching the right shoulder, then the left: This expresses the hope that when Christ returns to earth during His second coming on Judgement Day that we will be placed on his right side and not on His left. This comes from the Scripture where Jesus spoke of His Second Coming in Matthew 25:1-46 where He describes the judgement process like a farmer separating sheep into one herd and goats into another herd. The sheep, or the righteous ones, are put on the right and the goats are put on the left.
The King then says to those on the right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34 NIV) He goes on to tell them that they have been put on his right because they have had hearts open to the needs of those around them and whenever they served the poor, ill, foreigners, or imprisoned, it was Christ himself they were serving.
The King then says to those on the left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (Matthew 25: 41 NIV) He goes on to tell them that they have decided their own fate because of their failure to have hearts opened to serving Christ by serving the needy of the world.
Here is a video explaining how to do this prayer practice.