Effective prayer begins at the cross. The cross separates the believer from sin and connects him to God. Through prayer this truth becomes a personal reality instead of merely an intellectual novelty. All Christian’s acknowledge the theological importance of Jesus’ cross. How does the cross impact my prayer habits on a practical level? Let’s look at a Scripture verse from the Old Testament book of Isaiah.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5, ESV)

There are four specific benefits of the cross seen in this verse. Below is a simple outline of their significance and how I use them to begin most of my times of prayer.

  1. I thank God for the whip that provides me healing for my body. The wounds by which we are healed were laid on our Savior’s back by a whip. This verse is quoted in the New Testament in 1 Peter 2:24.
  2. I thank God for the crown of thorns that provides me peace for my mind. When I read of the chastisement (punishment) that brings peace I think of the crown of thorns that my King chose to wear. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that we have not been given a spirit of fear, but instead a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.
  3. I thank God for the spear that provides atonement for my iniquities. A spear crushed the Master’s side, literally breaking His heart, so that I could receive a new heart. My new heart hates sin and loves righteousness.
  4. I thank God for the nails that provide forgiveness for my transgressions. Our Lord’s hands and feet were pierced so that I can receive forgiveness for all my transgressions. It is amazing that His crimson blood can cause filthy me to become whiter than snow!

I start most of my prayer times by going through this list and thanking God out loud for these four benefits of the cross. This helps me to approach God with humility and gratitude.

What do you think? What do you do to begin your times of prayer?