Prayer Stations



Station 1

Jesus is Tempted

Matthew 26:38

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Questions to ponder:

  • What scenarios in your life have led you to desperate prayer?
  • When is your most honest prayer?
  • When was a time you called others to pray with you?

Station 1 - Reflection

In this station, we have the cup of death juxtaposed against the serpent of temptation. Jesus found himself in a garden desperately praying about what lay ahead of him… the road to death. The road we will walk as we go through these stations, just like countless have contemplated for two thousand years.

I’ve never had a future in front of me where I knew if I kept going I’d suffer horrible torture at the hands of imperial powers and I would slowly die on one of the worst execution devices ever created by human beings.

That said. I get tempted.

Not in the vein of shoplifting and hating annoying people on Southwest flights.

I’m talking about Incarnation.

I get tempted all the time to not be HERE to the life that is right in front of me. The present that IS instead of what I imagined it would be. The relational commitments I’ve made to family and a partner. The psychological commitments I’ve made to perspective and choice. The faith commitments that I’ve made to the Ground of Being. The incarnation commitments I've made to just get up and be alive to what this day has.

Jesus partook in the difficulty of saying yes to what’s happening.

The road ahead of me is not an execution device. Thank God. But constantly on all our roads is a DEATH that comes from denying our particular incarnation. Your body. Your family. Your capabilities. Your limitations. Your time. Your situation. Your place. Your short breath of life in the absurd and beautiful universe.

To say YES to your life is to say no to all the other incarnational possibilities. Which in a world filled with doorways to fantasy (the very phone your holding now)... this is so very hard to do.

The cocktail we want to drink is the inebriation of numb distraction.

The beverage we are offered is the reality of our glorious and dynamic fragility.

“Father, take this cup from me. But not my will, but yours be done.”

Station 2

Jesus is Betrayed


“Friend… do what you came here to do.”

Questions to ponder:

  • What are other words or phrases that describe betrayal? 
  • What are the ingredients that make up betrayal?
  • What does betrayal feel like? 
  • Are you surprised or not that Jesus was betrayed by a close friend? Why?

Station 2 - Reflection

In this station, we see the twelve coins represent the twelve disciples. In the center, we notice Judas - the one who betrayed Jesus. Jesus makes it clear to Judas, his enemies, and his disciples that he is not a victim. What will unfold does not happen because of Jesus’ powerlessness. Instead, what happens is because of Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will. His prayer in Gethsemane had asked for other options. The arrival of Judas, with his treacherous and cowardly kiss, is Jesus’ answer from the Father. This situation will play out as the prophets had said and will be accomplished as the Father had planned. Jesus could call a myriad of angels to defeat his human foes, but the ones he loves and came to save would be left without a sacrifice for their sins.

There’s a moment where we start to see the beginnings of betrayal in Jesus’ disciples.

If our hearts are not in the Gospel mission, we are stepping towards the path of failure. Like Judas, who walked closely and watched Jesus preach, heal, and do miracles betrayed at the end. We can be close to Jesus, go to church, read the bible, and do pious activities. But, we can also be tempted inwardly.

Jesus partook in not being what others wanted him to be.


I’m amazed how quick I can be at betraying any Way that leads me away from Power, Wealth, and Control.

It’s been said I can’t have two masters... but sometimes Jesus, I don’t think you know how all of this actually works.


Station 3

Jesus is Condemned

LUKE 22:53

“But this is your hour… when darkness reigns.”

Questions to ponder:

  • Does this arrest, trial, and sentencing feel fair? Why or why not?
  • Charges against Jesus are brought up by the religious leaders. What was their concern? 
  • How would you feel witnessing these events transpire?


Have you ever pondered at how many Biblical characters spent time in jail in the Bible?

Paul and Silas, Jeremiah, Joseph, John the Baptist, the Apostles, and Daniel to name a few.

And what were the reasons for being arrested? Were these imprisonments justified? Were these cut throat criminals? Or were they pushing up against something else… something with power… that felt threatened by their message?

No matter how much we want to believe that our justice system is just, we’ve all heard stories of how it’s failed. False witnesses. Tampered evidence. Biased conclusions. We’ve all seen the stories of someone let out of jail decades later because of new DNA evidence that proved they didn’t do it. We’ve all seen the political fugitive emerge half a life later because the political power they spoke against has changed hands. We all know that in even in our best attempts at justice, their can emerge an unjust sentencing.

Jesus partook in the consequences of injustice.

He was condemned in an unjust system.

He was put on trial by a religious establishment that felt threatened by his message.

He had false witnesses testify against him.

Even when they brought Him to Pontius Pilate and asked for Him to be executed, Pilate asked “What has he done?”

You know... when they shouted “crucify him!”... that meant in a few hours they all got to watch him die right in front of them.

Not on screens.

Not from stadium stands.

Just on the side of the road as they ran some errands.

I believe in our capacity for kindness and goodness. But I also know that hiding in the shadows is our immense capacity for cold bloody murder.

Here’s a quick summary of some of Jesus’ crimes:

  • Restoring justice.
  • Expanding human dignity.
  • Disarming oneself.
  • An upheaval of status quo.
  • A reshuffling of resources.
  • Expansive belovedness.

These are just a few things that compel humans to destroy the Gift of God.

Station 4

Jesus is Mocked

JOHN 18:23

  “But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”

Questions to ponder:

  • What parts of life feel “dehumanizing” to you? 
  • What’s a memory you have of being mocked?
  • What’s a memory you have of being the one mocking? 


What were these objects made for?

In this station we have the juxtaposition of a whip known as the “Cat of Nine Tales” and a crown made out of thorns. What was the desired byproduct of these devices?

It’s to dehumanize.

Yes… to inflict pain. To torture. To beat down. But even the implementation of physical pain is to diminish the narrative of innate human dignity.

According to the Psychological community, the most common reasons for mockery is because one may feel insecure. Rather than face insecurity, mockery helps make the feeling of insecurity less noticeable. It may even help someone feel more self-assured and confident because they feel like they have the upper hand.

Jesus partook in being dehumanized.

Have you ever hated your life so much that your anger was released on other people?

Maybe you’re angry about how your life is turning out. It’s not what you had planned and you find yourself in a situation that you loathe. And if anybody asks how you are doing, it takes all your patience to not lash out in anger.

Or maybe you’re in a dead end job. Or a job that is really stressful. And you work with others who don’t appreciate you. And maybe even dislike you. And all you get all day every day is disdain and passive aggressive hate.

Dehumanizing situations can wear you down. And have you ever been so worn down that in a completely different context, something someone says is a release valve for all that pent-up anger. Maybe it’s a hard conversation that becomes way more intense then needs to be. Maybe a child is disobedient and you yell at them more than necessary. Often we release our anger in the places that are embarrassingly inappropriate. In our dehumanization, we can lash out with dehumanizing actions.

I bet those Roman soldiers beat the crap out of that Rabbi.

Station 5

Jesus is Given His Cross

JOHN 3:14-15

  "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

Questions to ponder:

  • If you could remove some aspect of your life, what would it be?  
  • What is the least favorite aspect of yourself?
  • What do you think Jesus’ face looked like when he was given his cross?   


I find “taking up your cross daily” a very mysterious statement.

It may be that Jesus is asking us to carry an actual executional device everyday for the rest of our lives… and Lord knows there are those that love the necessity for self loathing and self flagellation that certain interpretations of this sacred text provide.

I would say that if your particular religion needs a consistent dose of self-loathing to function, maybe ask yourself “Is this really is good news?”

But maybe Jesus is referring to something a little more metaphorical, yet still something so very real.

I think one our greatest fear as humans is the potential of something happening to us that we are not in charge of. Something devastating. Some kind of loss. Something horrible given to us whether we like it or not. Something that gets us in touch with our powerlessness…. Which is a fear always hiding behind the veneer of control and curated toughness.

Jesus partook in being given something that he did not want.

Maybe our offering today, and everyday, is to practice the acceptance of that which I cannot control.

That which will happen in a human life…

  • Aging.
  • Death.
  • Loss.
  • Illness.
  • Wrinkles.
  • Infection.
  • Swelling.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Brokenheartness.
  • Weeping.

It is the invitation to our vulnerabilities - an invitation to our relationship to our weaknesses and limitations.

Actually something quite powerful occurs when we accept what we are given. Jesus said it like this: "those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the good news, will save it.”

It’s in the losing of a life, the “ego strength” life, that we find how to really live.

It’s in the losing of a false self, and living in the true self…. the self rooted in the “God who so loves the world”, that you find you cannot lose that which is most precious. The good news that nothing can separate you from the love of God.

That’s about as far as I understand the mystery of “taking up your cross daily”. It’s still a mystery that is forming me.

Station 6

Jesus Falls

JOHN 12:24

  “Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”

Questions to ponder:

  • What is your natural reaction when you see someone fall down?  
  • Have you ever stumbled in public? How did that feel to be seen that way?
  • What’s unsettling about having weaknesses?  

Station 6 - Reflection

In this image we see the juxtaposition of a branch and the leaves falling off of that branch. The branch is connected to a larger reality - the tree, the roots, a whole network. And yet there are aspects of the tree that seasonally fall. Detach. Die. Decay. There is nothing wrong with that tree. There are just seasons in the life of a tree that involve descent. We literally call it “Fall”.

This station, although not found in scripture, is traditionally three separate stations that I’ve combined into one. It symbolizes Jesus’ humanity and his ever decreasing strength as He moves towards his public death. After a brutal beating, flogging, and forced to carry his own cross, the invitation is to know that Jesus suffered weakness too. That there are parts of a human life that you are just not in charge of.

Jesus partook in falling down.

Gravity is nothing you are in charge of. When you stumble... or the agencies in place to keep you upright go askew... a power greater than your will pulls you to the ground.

It’s not about your lack of faith. It’s about understanding the fragile and weak parts about your incarnation.

Other powers greater than your will power:

  • Your cardiovascular system.
  • Weather patterns.
  • Tectonic plates.
  • Comets.
  • Your need to breath.
  • Your need for water.
  • Your need to give Love to another.
  • Your need to receive Love from another.
  • Wonder.
  • Black Holes.
  • Accidents.
  • Randomness.
  • Bullets.
  • Fire.
  • Nuclear fallout.
  • Fear.
  • Sadness.
  • Joy.
  • Excitement.
  • Disgust.
  • Anger.
  • Your body.
  • Your existence.

When the agencies that keep us upright go askew, we fall. All of us. Even Jesus.

Station 7

Simon Carries Jesus’ Cross


  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Questions to ponder:

  • When you think about this part of the story, what emotions come up for you? 
  • What is something in your life that someone else has carried with you?
  • What does it mean to you that Jesus couldn’t carry his burden by himself? 

STATION 7 - Reflection

In this image we see two separate hands holding two separate pieces of wood, juxtaposed together to make the symbol of the cross. In Jesus’ journey to death, overcome with exhaustion from being beaten and forced to carry his own cross, He can no longer carry the burden laid upon him. A Roman guard pulls a man Simon from Cyrene out of the observing crowd and forces him to carry Jesus’ cross up the hill to Golgotha where Jesus will be crucified.

To imagine this moment is overwhelming. Imagine if it was your friend - wrongfully sentenced, brutally flogged, and then on their way to being publicly executed. Imagine as you watch them fall, you then are taken out of the crowd and asked to carry your friends execution device and walk alongside them as they head to the end of their life.

It’s too much to imagine… and maybe even understand… and very few of us will ever be asked to be a part of a story like this.

But all of us will walk alongside someone we love to the end of their life.

And someone will walk alongside us to our end.

And most likely it won’t be a dignified journey… because a walk to the end is a path of letting go of everything, especially your agency to do it by yourself.

We’ve all bumped up against the end of our capacity at some point in our life. Financially, physically, emotionally, psychologically, eschatologically… and in that moment we entered into the humbling and exciting reality that a human life cannot be accomplished on it’s own.

Jesus partook in having someone carry his burden.

Just like we will have our burdens carried. Just like we will carry someone else’s burdens. Whether we like it or not, throughout a human life, we carry one another.

Station 8

Jesus is Stripped

Luke 23:31

  “For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Questions to ponder:

  • What’s your most embarrassing moment? Not the one you tell others. The one you hope no one finds out?  
  • Who have you seen metaphorically “stripped” bare? What was their circumstances?
  • What do you think we most common hide behind in our culture? 

Station 8 - Reflection

The Romans crucified criminals naked.

The whole crucifixion process was to shame the criminal but also to shame the community that the criminal came from. As occupiers of a foreign land, the Imperial message through public executions announced, “Don’t mess with us or this will happen to you.” We win. You lose. You will lose everything. Especially your dignity.

In this image we have a cutting saw juxtaposed against the stripped limb it has just transformed. It alludes to the process being stripped bare without me having to do an illustration about public nakedness.

I don’t believe the point of this station is to commiserate on the exposed private parts of the King of Jews. Although I think it is worth taking the time to meditate on the fact that very few depictions of Jesus in art have ever shown him naked on the cross. I completely understand why. In giving reverence to the One we love in his most undignified circumstance, we honor Him with something to cover his nakedness, if only a humbled loin cloth. It’s a completely logical response to a shameful situation.

Also, let’s be honest. No one wants to enter a sacred space and see the genitals of the King of Kings. It’s not the place for that, and that’s very ok. As long as we remember though that these reverent art depictions are an editorialization of a collective triggering situation.

Because the shame of nakedness is felt deep in all of us. Nakedness does not necessarily mean not having clothes on. Nakedness can mean the loss of whatever it is you cover yourself to protect your vulnerabilities. Your relationship status. Your bank account. Your make up. Your narratives. Your capacity. Your accomplishments. Your faith. Whatever it is your vulnerable self hides behind.

Jesus partook in not being able to hide.

Literally. And representationally to all of us.

Because every human life will be exposed to an undignified nakedness. Everyone eventually feels the shame in being stripped down to our bare selves.

If you haven’t yet… just wait. It’ll come. Everything in the dark eventually comes into the Light.

And in that Light is a great compassion and empathy for what it’s like to not be able to hide anymore.

Station 9

Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

Matthew 27:46

  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Questions to ponder:

  • What’s the most pain you’ve ever felt?  
  • What pain are you carrying right now?
  • What have you not attempted because of the fear of pain? 

Station 9 - reflection

The image for this station is three nails together to make the shape of a cross. They represent the three spikes that were impaled into the body of Jesus in the process of crucifixion.  Have you ever considered that it’s not the wooden planks in crucifixion that are menacing but the hardware that attaches you to the wood?

The long physical pain of crucifixion was excruciating. In fact, the word excruciating is derived from crucifixion. They created a word out of witnessing the pain found in the experience of being crucified.

Jesus partook in pain.

Maybe more intense pain than any of us ever will. I don’t know. I’ve never been tortured, so I can’t compare my pain experience to the experience of being crucified. I’ve also never birthed a baby and I’ve been informed by many a mother that as a man I will never know how excruciating that experience is.

The most pain I’ve ever experienced was sitting through a six hour tattoo. It felt like being tortured. I didn’t think I was going to be able to handle it. In the process I had to learn how to work through the pain. How to focus my breathing and hold onto the little pockets of relief when the needle was removed from my skin. It’s been three years since and I still don’t know if I’m wanting to go under the needle again.

What I’m saying is we’ve all had various kinds of pain experiences and I want to tenderly remind ourselves that it’s not a competition.

Pain is experienced by all human bodies because pain is not something outside of our body but something we experience in our body. Pain is an embodied experience, which means we can never get a way from pain. Oh we try, and we’ve created fantastical inventions to numb, diminish, or sever the pain within our bodies. But we all remember the pain, and the possibility of pain is something we always carry around.

Death would actually be the relief. It’s the excruciating pain that frightens us.

Station 10

Jesus Dies

JOHN 15:13

  “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."

Questions to ponder:

  • What was your first experience with the reality of death? 
  • What makes you most angry about death?
  • What makes you most sad about death? 

Station 10 - reflection

There is an eventual disappearance for all of us that we just don’t like to talk about.

Maybe like me you’ve witnessed a living thing die. From a friend, to a stranger, to a pet, I’ve seen whatever it is that gives the body essence suddenly disappear, leaving just an empty shell. It’s haunting, which is maybe where the word came from, to not know where that animating essence goes in death. Somewhere? Up there? Down there? No where? If we’re honest we really don’t know. We have guesses, but we really don’t know for sure and that is unsettling.

Jesus partook in disappearing.

He was here, and then he wasn’t here. A body was left on the cross, but He wasn’t there anymore.

I just don’t think we should move on from that unsettling mystery too quickly. I think we should stay in this uncomfortable contemplation. I think this station, out of all of them, is the one we’re really afraid of.

Look… I feel the un-comfortability of looking at the disappearance in death too, because it’s going to happen to us and everyone we know and love. There’s nothing we can do about this, and I feel within me the anger at the reality of this. I feel the dread of not being able to do anything to stop this eventual disappearance. I feel the cry underneath my cultured demeanor of that lack of control I have about when this is going to happen. I feel the humility this disappearance will demand of me when the animating essence of Me unwinds from the biological body of Me.

In this image we have the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, being cut in two by the scythe of death. Admittingly it’s a more palatable visual metaphor than a blunt illustrated lifeless dead body hanging on an execution device. That graphic depiction is hard to stare at for a long time.

  • So I offer you this image of a severed sheep.
  • A lamb slain by the wages of sin.
  • An animating essence made silent by the disappearance in death.

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”

Station 11

Jesus is buried


  “When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial."

Questions to ponder:

  • What was the last funeral you went to? 
  • How do you remember the Ones you have lost?
  • What do you think is the purpose of a funeral? 

station 11 - reflection

Burying a loved one is awful.

This station is a cross section of two elements typically involved in our burial ritual - a flower and a shovel.

You may have experienced the ritual of throwing flowers onto a grave at a funeral ceremony. No one actually knows when this tradition started, and various explanations have been given for why it’s practiced. One opinion is that flowers help say what we find difficult to say. They are a symbol of our gratitude, honor, grief, and well wishes to one who had such an effect on our lives. Throwing a flower into a grave is our final tribute to the gift to us that was their incarnation. Another explanation is that flowers signify the beginning of life. Placing flowers in a grave expresses a hope that the deceased will start a new life after death.

The shovel is a representation of how we excavate a hole in the earth to place our deceased loved ones in it. It reminds us of the prayer we say when we receive ash on our foreheads at the beginning of Lent… “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” The poem at the beginning of Genesis speaks to a Creator making a human form out of dirt - which is just the elements of the universe - and animating that form with Its own breath. So it makes sense that when we witness the spirit of that form depart, we would naturally return the dirt portion of the form back to the Earth.

The flower and the shovel remind us that we are an amalgamation of soul and dirt, spirit and material, something tangible and intangible. We remember that there is a part of us that returns to the dirt, and there is another part of us we have no idea where it goes.

Jesus partook in being remembered.

Which is beautiful and sad at the same time. Remembrance is beautiful because we can revisit our favorite moments in the presence of that loved one. It’s sad because we know we’ll never get any more moments in their presence.

  • We remember that they used to be around.
  • We remember where we buried them.
  • We remember the loss of love found in death.

Station 12


JOHN 10:11

  "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays his life down for his sheep."

Questions to ponder:

  • What has been the harder parts of your human experience? 
  • When have you felt best in your body?
  • When have you felt the worst in your body?   

station 12 - reflection

You know, you’re not supposed to have a “Jesus Rises” station in the Stations of the Cross. It doesn’t exist in the traditional stations. These stations are supposed to be a meditation on Jesus’ journey to the grave, which exhumes our eventual journey to the grave, which invites us into the grace, empathy, and love of a Savior who is familiar with the hardest parts about being human. These meditations are about descent. We save rising for Easter morning.

The church tradition I grew up in felt very uncomfortable with things unsolved. It felt very uncomfortable talking about the cross and the grave without talking about the Resurrection. My guess is none of us like a story that ends in the darkness of the unknown because it reflects the future reality of our entrance into the unknown. And that transition frightens the ba-jee-bees out of most of us.

My hope in these meditations is that we begin to see that the Divine is intimately familiar with the hardest parts of our human experience. From betrayal to heartbreak. From pain to silence. From appearance to disappearance. We can see that Jesus did not insulate himself from those hard parts, but actually went through them, like you and I have to. In the Triune God are embodied memories of the hardest parts of being a human.

Jesus partook in being embodied.

Being in a body. Being here. Being finite. Having limitations and weaknesses. Having a heart that beats that he wasn’t in charge of. We have hearts that are beating that we aren’t in charge of. All of us are here, right now, by something that we are not in charge of.

Jesus came back to a body in His resurrection. All the hard parts about being human were not the end of Jesus, and maybe they aren’t the end of us too.

So I give you this image to contemplate the resurrection of embodiment. A new shoot growing out of the chopped stump juxtaposed with the wooden staff of a good shepherd who still declares,

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays his life down for his sheep.”