One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” – Luke 23:39-43
Have you ever prayed a desperation prayer? You know the kind I’m talking about. You’re at your wits end, and in desperation cry out to God, “God please help me!” In this passage we see that Jesus loves to answer desperation prayers, especially concerning salvation.
The penitent thief didn’t appeal to Jesus for salvation using a well thought out prayer or fancy rhetoric. He didn’t say, “Jesus, if it wouldst pleaseth thou, remember mine soul when entering into thy glorious kingdom.” No, this was a ragged prayer, coming between gasps and gritted teeth. This was a prayer of anguish, uttered through screaming pain and the fog of mind that comes shortly before death. It was a prayer of desperation uttered by a desperate man.
Yet the Savior heard and responded to this desperate plea for help. The thief had absolutely nothing to offer Jesus. His life had been lived in the criminal underworld, and he had spent his days engaged in wickedness. But we have a Savior with a great heart of love. Jesus didn’t reject the thief, nor did He rebuke the thief for his life of crime. Instead, Jesus promised the thief salvation. With His breath coming in painful gasps and blood pouring into His eyes, Jesus promises the thief a place in the kingdom of God.
We serve a God who loves to save desperate sinners. Who can measure such grace? Do you remember when He saved you? Do you remember when you uttered a prayer of desperation to Jesus?
As you go about your day, let your heart be drawn upward in thanksgiving to the God who answers desperate prayers.