Journaling is one of my favorite ways to pray. There have been many times when I’ve gone into adoration or the chapel, journal in hand, and sat in front of Jesus writing about everything that was on my heart. Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of keeping a prayer journal is being able to go back and reflect on past writings. Often, I am able to see how God has answered past prayers. I hope that these journal prompts help you to draw closer to Jesus during Holy Week, as we prepare our hearts for the holiest day of the year.
1. On the night before He died, Jesus washed the feet of the apostles. He said to them “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do” (John 13:14-15).
What does it mean to wash one another’s feet? Who are the people in your life whose feet you need to wash? Is there someone in your life who you know you should be helping, but are afraid to? How can you overcome this fear so that you are truly following Jesus’ model?
2. As Jesus is suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prays to God, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
Is there something God’s calling you to do that you are afraid of? How can you surrender yourself to God and trust in His plan for you? Sometimes, the things God asks of us seem impossible. He calls us to do things we never planned, or imagine. Let our prayer be like Jesus’: “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
3. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. Every time we sin we betray Jesus too. And every time we sin Jesus is waiting for us with open arms; he is waiting for us to turn away from sin and turn towards Him.
What area in your life do you need to turn away from in order that you might turn back towards God? Ask for God’s grace to strengthen you in the face of temptations.
4. At the Last Supper, Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You” (John 13:37). Yet, shortly after, in the face of adversity, Peter denies ever knowing Jesus.
How many times have we been like Peter–singing God’s praises, and then, just as quickly, denying our Lord? Have there been times that you’ve denied Jesus? Have you ever been afraid of your Christian identity? What are you afraid of?
Jesus reminds us: “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” (Matthew 5:11). Pray that God may give you a spirit of courage and love of God, so that even when it is difficult or unpopular, you never deny your Christian identity.
5. Jesus takes up His own cross and carries it out of love for us. We know that as disciples of Jesus, we too must carry our own crosses for Jesus says: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)
What cross are you carrying right now? Do you bear your cross with humility, remembering the sacrifice of Jesus? Or do you complain and focus on negativity? Have you asked God to help you carry your cross?
6. Mary stays by her Son’s side throughout His suffering and death. It must have been excruciating for her to watch her only Son be humiliated, tortured, and killed. Yet, Mary remains loyal, loving, and steadfast.
Sometimes it can be difficult to watch another person, especially a person we love, endure suffering. It may be tempting to abandon them in the midst of their pain because it is so painful for us. Are there people in your life who are suffering right now? How can you be more like Mary to these people? Ask God for the courage to be loving and loyal, as Mary was, even when it breaks your heart.
7. Simon of Cyrene, an innocent bystander, was asked to help Jesus carry His cross. He must have been scared, reluctant even. He must have wondered why God had chosen him. Still, he succeeds in helping Jesus carry His cross.
It is easy to look at a stranger who is suffering and want to turn away– because helping them is inconvenient, or difficult, or painful, or perhaps it is embarrassing. But do we remember that every time we ignore that suffering person we are turning away from Jesus? How many times have we asked “Why me Lord?” instead of willingly being the hands and feet of God?
Have you ever avoided helping someone? Is there a person in your life whose cross God is asking you to help bear? How can you help them as a sister or brother, but not try to rescue them and fix all their problems (something they have to figure out on their own)?
8. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cries these words just before His death on the cross. While God never abandoned His Son, Jesus, in His humanity, feels a sense of despair and abandonment as he is suffering.
Have you ever felt abandoned by God? When? How can the Passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus help you to trust that, just as God had not abandoned Jesus, God will never abandon you?
9. Reflect on the words of St. Paul:
“‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
Because of Christ’s sacrifice, we are one with Him again. What does Jesus’ Passion, death, and resurrection mean to you? Are you aware that you are a beloved child of God? How will you live out the joy of the Gospel message? How can you share this message with others?
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