My Favorite Prayer
There are some prayers that God always answers with a “Yes.” When you ask God for something that He always delights to give, you’ll get it. The certainty of God’s answer delivers comfort, whether you were praying for comfort or not.
In Psalm 86:5-7 David prayed,
5 For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You.
6 Lord, hear my prayer; listen to my plea for mercy.
7 I call on You in the day of my distress, for You will answer me.
David’s prayer in verse six was for the Lord to have mercy. The beauty of this prayer is that it’s simple and yet all-encompassing. In light of verse five, asking for mercy means asking for forgiveness of sins. In light of verse seven, asking for mercy means asking for help in any time of trouble.
In historic liturgy, the church has prayed, “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.” For the heart sorry over sin, this Kyrie prayer (Kyrie means Lord) is a prayer for forgiveness. For the heart burdened with the cares of the world, this is a prayer for help in time of trouble.
God is merciful. If you ask God to be what He already is, He will not say no. “Lord, have mercy” has become my favorite prayer. In great calamities and in little inconveniences, it’s always a valid prayer to make, and it’s always answered with a yes. The Lord will indeed be merciful to you.
The key is to trust that God will indeed have mercy and to leave the specific answer up to His gracious will. In the moments before Jesus was betrayed, He fell on His face and prayed in Matthew 26:39, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus prayed a very specific prayer. He petitioned God the Father to let the cup of suffering pass by so that he would not have to drink down the wrath of God against the sin of the world. Yet He included that great prayer of faith, “not as I will, but as you will.” Adding “Thy will be done” to our prayers is the greatest expression of faith in the mercies of God.
In His unsearchable wisdom and infinite mercy God did answer Christ’s prayer mercifully. Jesus did drink the cup. It did not pass by Him. Through Christ’s innocent suffering and death in our place God has mercy on our souls by not dealing with us according to what we deserve, but according to His mercy.
We almost never know what God’s will is when it comes to how He will answer specific prayers for help and healing. That’s okay. We know He’s merciful, so we keep praying and commending our bodies and souls and our neighbors’ bodies and souls into God’s hands. Pray broadly or pray specifically, but always trust in the mercies of God. He delights to say yes! He forgives you and He helps you. He will have mercy on you.