Editors note: Last year on Good Friday Christians from around the world prayed together using our Stations of the Cross Prayer Guide. A few of the locations from which people prayed include: Malaysia; Sanabu, Egypt; Heilegenkreuz, Austria; Aberfoyle, ON Canada; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Madagascar; Pretoria, South Africa; Auckland, New Zealand; Hong Kong; Philippines; Suffolk, England; Taiwan; Sydney, Australia; and people from every region of the United States.

Keeping Vigil

Ruth Haley Barton

“Who can stay awake in this night of God? Who will not be as if paralyzed by it? Christ’s struggle was with God. This was his real agony. He overcame it through his self-surrender. That was his victory, and our hope.”  –Jurgen Moltmann

It is a custom of the Christian church to keep vigil with Christ at different times and in different ways throughout the three holiest days of the Church year–Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.  During these days, we surrender ourselves completely to being with Christ in the depths of his passion on our behalf.

One of the places from which we draw this custom is Jesus’ request to the disciples to be near him and keep watch while he prayed and agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane. We also know that there were those few–including Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ mother Mary, and John–who stayed near the cross and kept watch as Jesus suffered and died.  Despite the horror of what was taking place, they kept company with him until the very end.

As a part of our Holy Week observance, we are inviting you to join us as we keep vigil with Christ on Good Friday by praying between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00 p.m.  If you let us know when you will be praying, we will send you via email our 5-page Stations of the Cross Prayer Guide in pdf format (see directions below).

You may want to go to a church, a chapel or a garden that depicts the Stations of the Cross or in some other way helps you to meditate on Christ’s last hours. You might also choose to fast through lunch as a way of joining with Christ in his suffering.


Let us walk prayerfully into these holiest of days, watching and waiting with Christ through the darkness of his death and burial so that together we can celebrate the joy of the Resurrection. We pray together…

Almighty God, whose most dear Son
went not up to joy but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Book of Common Prayer

If you live nearby, please join us for our Good Friday Stations of the Cross Prayer Service at the Lorretto Center Chapel in Wheaton.

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Leave a comment below with the time slot you will be praying and the state or country you will be praying in. It is a strength for all of us to know that we are praying with others around the world. Please note your comment may not show up right away.
  2. Sign up here to receive your 5-page stations of the Cross Prayer Guide by Ruth Haley Barton. Your pdf will arrive via email on on Wednesday of Holy Week. If you would like our full color 32-page Stations of the Cross Prayer Book, click here before March 27
  3. Use the share buttons below to encourage others to join us in keeping vigil on Good Friday.

Time slots:
12:00 – 1:00
1:00 – 2:00
2:00 – 3:00


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