A Thoughtful Prayer for Holy Saturday to Wait and Rejoice
A Thoughtful Prayer for Holy Saturday to Wait and Rejoice
Heather Riggleman Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Holy Saturday Prayers are also a magnificent way to spend Saturday. My favorite story of Jesus saving a sinner comes from the book of John.
Thumbing through my journal of Holy Saturday prayers, I hugged it to my chest as I sat in the quiet on my couch. The silence of Saturday has always burdened my heart. As a family, we would eagerly anticipate the Good Friday service because it was a mix of 12 different churches in our town, all gathering under one roof at the fairgrounds to worship.
My heart overflowed with joy, gratitude, and love for what Jesus had endured for me on the cross. But to celebrate, worship, and take communion with half our town, did something unspeakably beautiful to my heart. As the worship of thousands of voices faded and we headed home only to wake up to Saturday morning, my heart filled with emptiness.
This was the day the cadaver of Christ laid in a tomb. This was the day in Scriptures when all hope was lost. His disciples, his close friends, his mother, all watched the brutal murder of Jesus. Friday had been loud, violent, filled with drama and chaos; Saturday held the aftermath with Jesus’ blood staining the ground. Saturday was quiet, somber, black, and questions of Jesus seemingly answered hung in the air around the world like a thick fog. This was not just any Saturday, but Holy Saturday.
What Is Holy Saturday?
Holy Saturday is the day when Jesus’ body laid in a tomb. Holy Saturday is the time period between Good Friday—Jesus' crucifixion—and Easter Sunday—the resurrection of Jesus. The Gospels all mention what happened during Holy Week, beginning with Palm Sunday and with the accounts of how Jesus was crucified but Luke gives us a deeper look and what happened on Saturday. Luke 23:55 shares, “As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law."
Matthew 27:62-66 also tells us the chief priests and Pharisees visited with Pontius Pilate because they were afraid someone would steal Jesus’ body and say that he rose again (John 2:19-21) because Christ did declare that He would rise again. They asked Pilate to guard Jesus’ tomb, but we all know these mere human beings would not be able to hold Jesus back in the tomb.
After this moment, Saturday seemed so anticlimactic. Friday, God made Himself heard as He shook the earth, covered the sky, and tore the veil in the temple from the top to the bottom as Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished.” Then His body was taken from the cross and laid to rest in the tomb. It went from tragedy to despair. The women couldn’t even finish preparing his body for death because Sabbath had begun. In a way, Jesus was resting on the sabbath after all He had done for us. In fact, some Christians recognize Holy Saturday, the seventh day of Holy Week, as the day on which Jesus “rested” from His work of providing salvation.
But little did anyone know, he was getting the keys to hell and setting the captives free.
How Do Christians Celebrate Holy Saturday?
Even though this day was filled with misery and despair, Holy Saturday is a day of reflection. There is no right or wrong way to celebrate it. Some families make Easter garden tombs with their children. Others dye Easter eggs and talk about how Jesus came to give us new life by the way of salvation. Some churches hold a vigil, waiting into the night for dawn to come while prayers and the accounts of Jesus’ death are read. Still, others spend the day in silence as they ask God to search their hearts for any offenses and ask God for forgiveness. Another beautiful way to spend time with God is to read all four accounts of Jesus’ death in the Gospels. Before diving in, ask God for fresh eyes. Ask Him to renew the wonder of His Word within your spirit.
Holy Saturday is a time for us to do all of these things as we lean into our relationship with God and place our own agendas aside. It’s a time to make space for Him and to reflect on how His saving grace is written all over our stories. How has His grace saved you? What miracles or works has God done in your life? What chains has He broken you out of? Most of all, what are you grateful for?
A Thoughtful Prayer for Holy Saturday
Holy Saturday Prayers are also a magnificent way to spend Saturday. My favorite story of Jesus saving a sinner is found in the book of John. I see so much of myself in the story of the woman at the well. Jesus waited until Noon to go to the well because He knew this particular woman would be there. He knew her story, her past, and her sins. But He did see her sins—Jesus saw HER. From the story, we know that she had five husbands. We assume she may have been a prostitute at surface level but given the times, women were objects in those days with no rights. A husband could divorce his wife if she wasn’t appealing to him anymore. That’s how precarious it was to be a woman in those days. It was also a time of civil unrest. Her previous husbands could have died in battle or they divorced her because she did not appeal to them anymore or perhaps, she was barren and couldn’t produce an heir. This is of course all speculation, but Jesus knew her story. Jesus knew her sins and Jesus wanted to meet with her to give her a chance of life everlasting.
As I read John 4:13-14, I reflect see His saving grace. This story parallels with the Gospels of Holy Week and why Jesus came for us in the first place. Her story is our stories. Her need for salvation and the cross is ours. With Holy week looming on the calendar before us, here is a Holy Saturday Prayer from Christ’s remarkable work through His ministry to her.
The silence of Saturday is deafening. But You spoke so loudly on Friday that the earth shook. You tore the veil in the temple from top to bottom, signaling to us all, we would be separated from You no more. As I think about Jesus’ life, His ministry, and His teachings, I am in awe that someone so perfect, holy, and mighty would take my place on the cross. It’s as though I am the woman sitting at the well, thirsty and longing for something better. Longing for someone to see me and truly love me. Lord, You love me so much despite my past sins, despite my present sins that I try so hard to avoid. Jesus, I need Your grace, Your living water, and Your mercy. You are the resurrection, the way, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through You. On this Holy Saturday, I sit here quietly and reflect on Your Words and Your death, I am thankful for You, for the cross, and for the tomb. Today, the world mourns in anticipation of Your death but tomorrow, we will cry out and rejoice in a mighty celebration. May Your rest in the tomb transform my own soul as we anticipate Easter morning. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A Holy Saturday Prayer for Children
Thank you for coming to this earth and save us. You came as a baby and grew into a perfect man. You never sinned. Thank You for choosing to take away my sins and loving me the way You do. Thank You for coming to save the world and for saving me. God, thank You for sending to Jesus to the cross so we can all be heaven with You just for believing in Him. Help prepare my heart for Easter morning, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/ALFSnaiper
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.