The Simplest Prayer in the Darkest of Times:
Have you ever found yourself at a place where it seems as though either you, yourself, or other people’s choices dug a hole for you and there is no humanly possible way for you to get out of that hole? I am not talking about those moments that you know you can apply some elbow grease, a prayer circle and faith and everything will work out well. I am talking about a moment when you know that you know that you know that if God does not do something urgently then there is nothing and no one that can help you. If you have ever been there then you would probably agree that no words feel like they carry any power or faith except the words “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
Luke 18:38 So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
It’s an extremely good thing, then, that we are children of our Good Father. He cannot resist an opportunity to extend His mercy to a heart and situation that seeks it. We have reduced the fullness of His mercy to mean only the forgiveness of sins. Or, as I’ve heard it somewhere before “Mercy is not getting what you do deserve”. I completely agree with that statement. His mercy is incomprehensible in it’s ability to release us from a torment and punishment that would have been ours if not for Jesus Christ. Yet, that is not all mercy is. Mercy goes further and even deeper still– mind blowing, I know. Salvation alone is enough cause for us to be filled with adoration and love for Him, and there’s more? Of course there is. We cannot exhaust the depths of God.
Lamentations 3:22-23 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
There are a few Hebrew words behind the term we know as mercy, but the main one is hesed which means: goodness, kindness and faithfulness. It is said that, in Hebrew, it was used interchangeably and intertwiningly with the word ‘loving-kindness’. I had a mentor who pointed out the difference between normal kindness and loving-kindness to me, once. Think of it this way: you can show kindness to a stranger and you can show kindness to your loved ones. What’s the difference between the kindness you show a stranger and the kindness you show your children? Your spouse? Your friends? Family? I believe I can answer for a few of us when I say that the kindness we show a stranger is limited and guarded. But, when it comes to our loved ones our loving-kindness is unguarded, unlimited. We naturally show kindness. In fact, it would be completely unnatural for us to not show kindness to our loved ones. It stands to reason then that it is even more unnatural for our Father to not show His actively involved loving-kindness and mercy towards us when we ask Him (and even when we don’t sometimes).
Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Mercy (hesed) is mentioned 239 times in the Bible with different meanings attached to it in the contexts of the writers. Some of those meanings were: deeds of devotion, acts of loyalty, mercies, unchanging love and righteousness. Can you begin to see that a prayer for Him to show mercy is more than just a prayer of forgiving of sins? It is a cry from the heart to the only One who can move on behalf of the afflicted and show Himself faithful, loyal, kind. A cry to the only One Who can fight the battle for you and win, because you don’t have anything else to give. Do you want to know the kicker? He absolutely longs to extend His mercy to us, showcasing His utter devotion and love for us. He is not sitting loftily on a throne looking for who is best deserving of a tiny snippet of His mercy. No, He is actively engaged looking for where He can pour it out unguarded, unlimited and on those who in no way could ever deserve it.
Have you noticed that when Jesus showed mercy to someone who was in a position that desperately needed it, it was accompanied with a practical solution? He didn’t just walk past and give them an encouraging word saying “I feel for you, brother. Be praying for you tonight.” No, He became actively involved as the solution. If the need was to see, Jesus healed them and they could see. If it was leprosy, they were healed. The lame walked. If you were caught in the act of adultery, He showed mercy and cleared your name. The Demon possessed got delivered. Those who doubted got to spend three years with Him and at the end touched the holes in His hands after He was raised from the dead. Desperate situations. Situations that seemed to have no other outcome but judgment. This gives even more perspective to the verse in Matthew 5 that says …blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Deeds of devotion, acts of loyalty.
In our darkest times the simplest prayer often carries the most power. Not because we are working a seven step plan to breakthrough, but because it calls on His nature to manifest. When our strength and plans and sources of breakthrough have failed. When we have come to the end of ourselves, our knowledge, our experience , there’s nothing left but to ask for His mercy. And oh, He is so ready to give it! In the moments when we ‘deserve’ (according to judgment, shame and condemnation) to be in this state, when we ‘deserve’ to taste despair His words ring throughout eternity “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
Mercy. Mercy. Mercy.
Pray it over every need, every disappointment. Every fear. Every challenge. Every heartache. Every area in need of a move and breath of God.
Let this be your prayer in the times you find it hard to hold on to hope:
“Father, have mercy on me”
And experience the God of Creation, your Father, bring about a merciful outcome.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].