Is there a biblical basis for Christians to pray with the sign of the cross?
Matthew 28:19 - 20
NLT - 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
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According to the website catholicexchange.com, Catholics regard the use of the sign of the cross as having its origin in Ezekiel 9:4, where a "mark on the forehead" was given to all those who mourned because of the sinful practices of Jerusalem at that time, and who were to be spared because of having this mark when God judged the city for its sin. Since (according to this website) the Hebrew word for "mark" was the same as the symbol used for the Hebrew letter "tav", which was cross-shaped, this -- along with the New Testament record of Jesus being put to death on a cross -- influenced the early Church (in the centuries immediately after Christ) to adopt the gesture of making the sign of the cross upon one's person. From my Protestant perspective, I view making this sign (which, to my knowledge, is not mentioned in the New Testament as being used as a gesture by early Christians, or as a part of worship by the early Church) as a matter about which Christians can differ, and not an essential component or article of faith. The main consideration depends upon the mindset of the person making the gesture, which I leave to God to judge. It would seem to me, however, that there might be a potential for the sign to become a matter of rote or mere ritual, with no real thought given to its significance, or to be viewed as having some merit or power of its own as a means of earning God's favor or warding off evil, or of displaying one's piety in front of others. In light of these possibilities, if its use would create such stumbling blocks for an individual believer (or for others observing that believer), it would appear preferable in my view not to use it.
The only way to know whether it is wrong or not is to look upon the practices of Jesus and the apostles in the Bible. I have never read in the Bible that Jesus and even any of the apostles have practiced or taught about the sign of the cross as what the Catholics do. Then, use the conviction of the Holy Spirit in your heart to determine whether it is wrong or not. I was a Catholic before. But when I became a Christian, I found out that many practices in the Catholic faith were unBiblical. Matthew 7:21
I believe when any symbol or ritual action is used to make one think it is part of Salvation, then it will be detrimental, but if a person makes the sign of the cross to remember the Father[Forehead], the Son[Upper chest], and the Holy Spirit [ Upper Chest] however, is that any different than wearing a cross necklace or having a cross on a ring.They are just emblems of one's outward declaration of what the cross means to them. We as Believers can make anything border on Idolatry if we put any measure of value in its necessity for Salvation, for Grace through Faith is Spiritual in the application, not physical. John 3:3-6 and Ephesians 2:8-9 and John 6:60-64. I believe the reason mankind seeks something physical like relics or symbols to touch or do is it gives a human sense of something tangible to strengthen one's faith. Like the Disciples our Spirit is willing but our flesh is weak Matthew 26:41 and we all want something we can see, hear or touch to help us. My prayer is we all can grow in Spirit and strive to be made Mature in our Faith that we depend on the Holy Spirit for the comfort and strength we need to Proclaim the Message, Persevere in the Mission and Patiently Minister in our daily lives and if we want to wear a cross or make the sign of the cross, we do do it as a testimony, not a mandate.
Catholics and Orthodox, and some Protestant groups, make the sign of the cross as a reminder of their baptismal vows. Also it is a reminder of Christ's suffering and triumph over death. By making this sign, we remind ourselves and publicly declare to others that we are not afraid to suffer and die for the sake of the gospel.
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