“Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” Psalm 30:10
Growing up, I would often hear my grandmother say, “Lord, have mercy.” It was usually because my brother or I had done something… well,… less than extraordinary. My brother set up a small bike ramp when he was about 10. Unfortunately, he aimed it straight for the outbuilding. He made the jump… but, then he smashed his face into the wall. Lord, have mercy. Or, there was the time I was almost arrested as a teenager. My buddy and I concocted a scheme. We went door to door asking for toilet paper. We told the people that we were collecting items for the needy and we had everything except tp. In reality, we were planning on rolling the neighborhood…with their own toilet paper! As the cop car pulled into the driveway, my exasperated mother sighed, “Lord, have mercy.”
Admittedly, Lord, have mercy has become somewhat of a southern colloquialism more than a sincere prayer. Nevertheless, I have become convinced that the Lord does indeed delight in even the simplest of prayers. Paul exhorts us in 1 Thess 5:17 to “pray without ceasing.” How is this possible if we are to work, raise our families, and take care of the day to day? Rather than being a command to spend all day, everyday in our prayer closets, Paul is exhorting us to view prayer as the disposition of a heart turned toward God. Throughout the day, as we utter quick, simple prayers, we demonstrate our dependency on the Lord. God has ordained both the end (his providence) and the means (prayer). Never has God said that he only works through long, hyper-emotional prayers. In fact, Jesus states just the opposite (cf. Matt 6:7).
Often, after a long day, I will pull into the driveway and just sit in silence for a minute. I will usually whisper a prayer: “Lord, help me to be a good husband and father tonight. I’m tired, I’m stressed. Help me to be helpful and love my family well. Amen.” We should never underestimate the power of prayer. We shouldn’t think that the effectiveness of our prayers depends on how much time we set aside, how “spiritual” we feel, or how well our words are put together. Sure, there are times when I have poured my heart out before God in prolonged prayer. While those moments are special, they are rare. Therefore, Paul says to pray without ceasing, let the normal rhythm of your day be marked by a heart that seeks God’s glory, God’s help, and God’s wisdom. Lord, have mercy.
Soli Deo Gloria
Pastor Matthew S. Rickett