Quite often we are timid in our praying rather than being bold. We may feel we do not deserve to be in the presence of a holy God. But, understanding God’s mercy can help us.
The other morning I pondered the words Lord, have mercy on me as I walked and talked with God.
To me it is impossible to ask God for mercy and stay standing on one’s feet. In my imagination, I fall on my knees before the steps of God’s throne. I bow my head and speak those words: “Lord, have mercy on me.”
Every single word in that phrase is loaded.
Starting with the last word, there is me.
Coming into God’s throne room, I picture myself wearing what looks like a bridal train spread out behind me. The train is everything to do with my life. However, it is not pure and white. Instead my train looks stained and unwashed. Some stuff in my life is not clean. It is heavy, too. I yank and tug at it until I stand at the steps before my heavenly Father’s throne. My train is draped around me.
All the details of my life—every action, thought, and word I speak—are displayed, like lacework, for God’s attention. I ask God to show compassion toward me. The fact God doesn’t throw me out of his presence, I find truly amazing.
The act of asking for and receiving mercy is the same for each of us. Mercy requires us to take the same stance before God. This is displayed in the first word of the phrase: Lord. It is not just with our lips we must profess God as Lord, but with our hearts, too. My spiritual kneeling symbolizes my heart-felt conviction that I am not worthy before a holy God.
When we ask for mercy, God responds with the same grace to each of us, even though we are all different and no matter the condition of our lives. Grace means the wrongdoing in my life is enveloped in God’s train that billows forth from him and fills the temple in which I am kneeling. I am swathed in his grace that shines like the sun.
“Lord,” my heart speaks again as I recognize who I am in relation to who he is. God desires a contrite heart.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion… My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise, says Psalm 51:1,17.
God does not require me to stay in my humble and submissive position. Those two words—have mercy—in the middle of the phrase brings forth the heavenly Father’s tenderness. God opens up his whole self to me. It’s not just his throne room to which I have access, but all the rooms in my Father’s house.
With those words have mercy I am shown favor. The few small words spoken on my knees with a heart turned toward God displays the riches of his grace.
As I leave my heavenly Father’s throne room my train gleams brightly in the sunlight as it floats, twisting and swirling, around me.
It is cold as I walk, but as I emerge from the shade of the trees, I walk boldly. Clean, bathed in sunlight and the warmth of God’s love.