Prayer for Grieving Before The Cross
by Diane Wood, MFT
As Christians seek healing from trauma and attachment wounds, the question comes up as to whether Christian counseling is better than healing prayer. It is important to note that these are two different modalities of extending care, and each addresses different aspects of the healing journey. Christian counseling provides the framework for the process and the depth understanding of the human psyche. Healing prayer provides the spiritual care and transformation of specific issues that emerge during the process.
In this paper I want to discuss one type of healing prayer. This is the prayer one uses to seek comfort from God as one experiences the pain of grief and loss in early attachment relationships. Leanne Payne writes about this in her book Restoring the Christian Soul Through Healing Prayer. In it she says, “As we learn more about the process of healing within the soul, we often find that the power to feel the pain is itself a vital part of the healing. The sufferer has repressed this heretofore and denied it precisely because it was so painful. But now he has to get it up and out. He needs to understand that, if he will stand in the cross and hurt, there is a place for it to go, an end to the pain. This seemingly endless pain is the way he gets in touch with and names the heretofore repressed grief, fear, anger, and shame underlying his depression. In order to come out of certain types of depression, one must feel the most appalling pain and grief. It often seems that death would be easier. But repressed grief and sorrow and loss remain to afflict us in other ways until we grieve them out.”
So how does one “stand in the cross and hurt?” This is a prayer that enacts the truth behind the scriptures Isaiah 53:4-5 and I Peter 2:24, that Jesus bore our sins on his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by his wounds we are healed. It is a prayer of giving over the pain of grief, abandonment, fear, terror, anger, sadness, hopelessness, panic, etc. over to Jesus in exchange for his mercy and peace. We are pressing our wounds into his wounds. This prayer can be done in a variety of ways, either alone or with someone praying for you. I will describe one way to pray this prayer that can be done alone.
It is important to remember that grieving deep attachment wounds takes time. The grieving comes in waves of sadness, anxiety and depression. This prayer can be done as often as needed, for as long as needed.
Find a quiet, safe place to sit where you won’t be interrupted. Find something to remind yourself that God is faithful, unchanging, and steadfast (unlike your emotions), strong enough to handle your emotions, and present now. This could be some scripture that you can read, or something in nature that reminds you of these things such as: the ocean, a mountain, or a constellation of stars. Invite the presence of the Holy Spirit and pray something like this: “Holy Spirit come and wrap your presence around me here, please bring safety. I invite you into these intense feelings.” Then look at the cross, one you have, or close your eyes and picture one. Then picture the intense emotions you have as a color, maybe a grey cloud that comes up and out of you and into the cross before you. Pray: “Lord Jesus with You I feel this pain, and now I know it cannot destroy me. In Your perfect being and sacrifice, it has a place to go, and I am yielding it up to You. Thank you for taking it onto Yourself.” Remain before the cross offering as much emotion as you need to, it’s not necessary to have words while you are presenting your pain. Some of the emotion comes from such an early time in your life that it is preverbal and there are no words. Just see the “grey cloud” pouring into the cross. This is sometimes accompanied by tears, crying, or just silence. When you are finished you can pray “Holy Spirit now please fill the space in my soul made empty by this outpouring of pain.” Close your eyes and see a different color pouring from the cross back into you. Sit and receive the mercy of God. You can pray, “Thank you Jesus for your life-giving mercy, I receive it from you. Please seal it in my heart. Amen.”
During sessions of intense grief you may need to pray this way daily. This type of prayer is not intended to make you “happy,” it is a meditation on the available presence of God in the midst of our painful journey of the soul.
If you are struggling now in your own journey and would like assistance and counsel, please consider contacting one of the therapists here at Hope Counseling.
[ Back to Articles ]