The Jesus Prayer: The Texture of Mercy
I woke up feeling really down. I spoke to my soul and asked, “why are you so downcast”? As I went about my morning routine (drinking coffee, getting kids off to school, running errands), I continued to ask my soul, “why are you so downcast?” Silence…
Lately, I have been practicing the discipline of saying the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” I have found that through the practice of this prayer, I have been able to focus my attention upon the Lord like never before, not because it has anything extra special about it, but rather because I have found it follows a deeply honest pattern of necessary elements for prayer in a very short amount of time.
“Lord Jesus Christ…” Here I am calling out and seeking the attention of God. “…Son of God…” I am declaring my deep conviction and trust of who He is. “…have mercy upon me…” Now, I am calling out and asking for the mercy of God to overwhelm me and comfort me in my affliction. “…a sinner.” I am now declaring who I am and acknowledging the reality of my soul in light of the reality of my Lord and my God.
This practice has been one of the most consistent and formative disciplines in my life lately, yet in this season of transition and extreme tiredness, I find myself feeling numb. “Why are you so downcast? Come on soul, wake up! Why are you so numb?”
I felt the Lord prompting me to say the Jesus Prayer. I felt my flesh recoil. I felt the Spirit beckoning me to Himself. I felt my mind begin to rationalize. Resistance pulsed through the veins in my arms and in my head. I could feel it reverberating and aligning with the beating of my heart and the rhythm of my breath. Deep intensity could be unseen by others but was undeniable to me.
I closed my eyes. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner” …silence… “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner” …relaxing trust… “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner” I finally felt a genuine sense of peace and the Love of God for me.
I looked down at the corner of the fence of the house we just moved from. I had just locked the keys in the house and closed the door for the last time. This was truly a healing house. Too many memories of love and formation happened here for me to not feel the searing loss.
There, just under the edge of the fence, was a rock. It was a smooth rock that my daughter had collected in her childish fun. Yet, it had fallen out of her bucket during the move. How could I leave it behind? I can’t. I won’t. I bent over and snatched it up as if someone might steal it away.
I held this tiny rock in my hand; it fit the grooves of my finger and thumb perfectly. Isn’t that just how memories work? They perfectly fit in the grip of your soul right at the times you need them the most. The touch of it brought waves of jumbled emotions, yet it also brought deep peace. I could feel the Lord providing me the courage to move ahead and trust.
The gift of these memories represented in this rock are the mercy I have been asking the Lord to provide. He faithfully provides! The tangible nature of this tiny rock taught me the texture of mercy. I’ve never known this lesson in life before, and only the real mercy of God has the power to teach it to me.
The answer to my question, “why are you so downcast, O my soul,” was given as a gift of mercy. “So you should seek me and find me, when you seek me with all of your heart”. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, You’ve had mercy upon me, Andrew, a sinner. Amen.