“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46 (NIV)
I have wonderful memories of my children as preschoolers. As often as I could I would put them to bed at night. They chose a book for me to read to them. Possibly we talked about their day. I used a children’s catechism with them. We always sang some children’s hymn and prayed. I am so glad they do the same with my grandchildren.
There was something I only learned later in life that I wish I had done with them as children. I wish I had taught them a prayer that Mary likely taught the Lord Jesus as a small child.
In Jesus’ time it was the custom of Jewish mothers to teach their children to pray at night the first half of Psalm 31:5. “Into your hands I commit my spirit” (NIV).
Undoubtedly Jesus continued the practice learned so early in life. We see that when He is about to sleep the sleep of death, He says these words as His final statement before dying.
What Jesus adds to the quote from the Psalm is the warm word of address “Father”.
It has been well said that when Jesus spoke His second last word, “It is finished”, John 19:30, it was His final greeting to earth. When He said the word we consider today, it was His first greeting to heaven.
There is a sense in which every true Christian dies daily. We submit our desires and ambitions daily to the will of God for us. Our ambitions die that God’s might live in us. Thus there needs to be a practice daily of committing our souls to God. If we do this daily there will be no objection on our part when we are called on to do it for the last time.
Those who find this practice foreign while living will surely find it difficult to do when dying. One author, speaking about this practice of praying these words daily, says, “There, as in other things, to begin early is to end well.”
Whenever I counsel with a person who is suffering or soon to leave us, I always teach them to say this prayer. I urge them to say it every time they intend to sleep. I ask them to see it as their living will that they make with their Creator.
It is good to seek to be in the hands of God for all of our lives and for eternity.
Would you consider using the words Jesus used to express daily your desire to be in the hands of the God who made you? Are you prepared to trust Him with your life here and your future beyond this life? Jesus did, so why not you? We cannot do better than Jesus in our daily business. This was Jesus’ last word, will it be yours?