Psalm 102, v. 1-2 NIV
Hear my prayer. O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.
Psalm 27, v. 1
The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
Mercy and grace – words we don’t use every day. We hear them in church but only rarely in everyday conversation. Sure, someone may ask, “How are you?” and you might respond, “By the grace of God, I’m fine.” The grace of God, after all, is given to us all, unconditionally.
But what about that other word: mercy? Don’t we need it just as much as God’s grace? Are we too much like the Pharisee in the temple who thinks it’s enough to tell God about our good deeds or the money we have given? What keeps us from being more like the tax collector who had only one prayer to offer: “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That’s what we believe, so why is it hard to ask for God’s forgiveness, God’s mercy? We delude ourselves if we think we have not made mistakes serious enough to warrant asking for God’s mercy.
The cumulative weight of our sin may be so heavy that the day arrives when we cannot bear it alone anymore. In such moments, we may be unable to think of the right words to express our contrition. God doesn’t require the “right” words, only the simplest and most honest of words: “Eternal God, my strength. Have mercy. Help me.” It doesn’t have to be long, but it must be honest. When our lives overwhelm us, the only mistake we make is not asking for God’s mercy.
Heavenly Father, have mercy on me. Take my sins away. Take this load from my shoulders. Create within me a clean heart. Restore my soul. Make my life a living mirror of your grace and your mercy. In the name of Jesus, Amen.