This Holy Saturday prayer can be used on Holy Saturday, which is the day before Easter. This Holy Saturday prayer can also be used when we have suffered unimaginable loss and we are desperately trying to cling to hope because it feels like God is “resting” and we cannot see that any positive changes seem to be underway.
Background of the Holy Saturday Prayer
Holy Saturday is the day before Easter when Christ was resting in the grave after being crucified. It is sometimes called the “Second Sabbath” after the Biblical account of God resting on the seventh day after the creation of the world. In the Biblical account of Christ’s burial, the women who intended to properly dress his body for burial were forced by Jewish tradition to wait.
What happened the day before on Good Friday
Christ was crucified the day before the Jewish Sabbath on what is called the Day of Preparation when observant Jews cook food and do other tasks in advance because they aren’t allowed to work on the Sabbath. According to another Jewish tradition, bodies are buried the same day the person died, so Jesus was hastily entombed before sundown on the Day of Preparation. The next day on the Sabbath, according to the Jewish law, everyone was under mandatory rest, which meant no work could be done.
There’s no record of what the women were doing during the Sabbath while they awaited their chance the next morning to go and do their sorrowful task of properly caring for the body of Jesus. We can only imagine that they felt an enormous amount of grief, sorrow and loss. (See Luke 23:50- Luke 24:11)
The featured photo at the beginning of this article shows the stone of unction in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on which tradition says Christ’s body was laid down to hastily wrap in a linen cloth for a quick entombment before sundown on Good Friday. Here believers from all over the world kneel and sit so they can touch the stone connected with the burial of Christ.
A waiting period orchestrated by God
Although the women probably were very upset that they had to wait to care for the body of Jesus, this waiting period was actually orchestrated by God to fulfill the words of Jesus when he told the disciples while they were still in Galilee, “‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men . They will kill him and on the third day he will be raised to life.l And the disciples were filled with grief.” (Matthew 17:22,23 NIV) During Holy Saturday, the disciples and believers didn’t connect Jesus lying dead in the tomb with any sort of favorable outcome. They were in deep shock and grief.
In the same way, we may be in deep shock and grief over tragedies and challenges in our life. We may feel as if we are totally and forever defeated. We may feel as if God has withdrawn and we will never feel joy or optimism again. Use your own Holy Saturday experiences to connect with the power of Christ using this Holy Saturday Prayer.
During Holy Saturday, you may not find formalized church services to attend near you. Instead, Christians generally keep vigil for Easter morning when they are at last able to celebrate the joyous news of Christ’s resurrection.
Holy Saturday Prayer
On Holy Saturday I pray for the personal times in my own life when I have suffered deep and unthinkable loss. In my darkest times when I am still in shock and mourning the death of part of my life as I’ve always known it, give me a glimmer of hope.
Just as on Holy Saturday when Christ rested in the grave, help me though the most still and stagnant days of my physical, emotional and spiritual life. Give me endurance and expectancy as I cling to Your Word, to the promise you made in Your Holy Scriptures:
For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55: 10-11 NIV
Knowing that Your dear Son Jesus did not remain in the grave, but arose again in the third day, I pray for my own joyful restoration as I claim this promise from Your Holy Word:
You will go out in joy
And be led forth in peace;
The mountains and hills
Will burst into song before you,
And all the trees of the field
Will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree,
And instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
For an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.
Isaiah 55:12, 13 NIV
May new life and restoration come to me after my days of difficult absences in my life. I pray expectantly for Your resurrection power. Amen.
Copyright Karen Barber 2012 All rights reserved.