What did the disciples pray the day after the Crucifixion? What did they pray after the resurrection? The Bible does not describe their activities on Saturday, so we can only speculate as to what they did. We might ask whether they prayed at all. Did their anger at Judas for betraying their master make it difficult to address God? Their anger may have focused on the mob who had chanted “Crucify him” so freely when Pilate offered to set Jesus free. Anger at Jesus himself may have distorted their perspective. Some disciples may have seen him as a failure, and themselves fools for having believed him. Fear, too, may have silenced their prayers. The fishermen, tax collectors, and revolutionaries (remember Simon the Zealot) among them may have feared that the same guards who arrested Jesus might now come for them. So they huddled together behind locked doors. Fear drives some people to pray, but as one of Frank Herbert’s characters in the novel Dune observed, “Fear is the mind-killer.” Fear can overwhelm all other thought.
What did the disciples pray? They may have prayed for safety, for the opportunity to resume normal lives. They may have prayed for revenge against the Romans, against Judas and his employers in betrayal, against the mob. They might have prayed for hope that God would send a messenger to succeed where Jesus had failed. Perhaps, even, the teaching of Jesus germinated within their hearts and they prayed that God would forgive – Judas for betraying the Teacher, the mob for insisting on his death, Pilate for allowing the execution, themselves for running away. Judging from their initial responses when they saw the risen Jesus, they probably had not prayed for his resurrection. Yet whatever their prayers, that most alarming response stared them in their faces – an angel saying “He is not here; he is risen,” Jesus himself speaking to Mary Magdalene near the tomb, Jesus later appearing in a loced room to fearful disciples. When they saw him, what then did they pray? Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and My God,” a prayer of praise. Other disciples, even while Jesus gave what we call the Great Commission before his ascension, still doubted.
What will we pray? We know the whole story. Christ has risen, God has restored hope, and perhaps now we disciples can forgive. Will we trust, and trusting pray, and praying go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? The world waits for us to pray, and to act.