This morning one of ministers used an often used response for the intercessions. The leader says Lord in your mercy, and our response is, hear our prayer. It struck me afresh why is it we call upon God’s mercy to answer our prayers? Why not because you love to answer prayers, your kindness, your generosity? There are lots of options that connect our human desires and the nature of God.
I had always thought I understood mercy, especially in relationship to grace. Grace is receiving from God what we don’t deserve (forgiveness, love) and mercy is not being given what we do deserve (punishment, separation). I have done a reasonable amount of study around grace over the years, but never given the same the same attention to mercy. Grace has always seemed so rich and mercy seemed so deficit, not getting something because I am undeserving and unworthy.
I think this is why it did not make sense to me when applied to prayer, what kind of God wants to not give me something when I pray. I do not want God’s pity in my prayers nor any other part of my life.
On further study, mercy seems to be more about receiving God’s compassion, kindness, relief from distress. The Hebrew word, racham means compassion, tender affection as in the care of a foetus within the womb. Mercy also has been translated as loving kindness,
According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “mercy” is defined as: “a form of love determined by the state or condition of its objects. Their state is one of suffering and need, while they may be unworthy or ill-deserving. Mercy is, at once the disposition of love respecting such, and the kindly ministry of love for their relief.”
Now this seems a much more helpful understanding of asking, an invocation for prayers to be heard and answered calling upon God’s mercy. If this is the nature of God, then I am happy to call upon this kind of God.
Lord in your mercy, protect me in the safety of your womb with lovingkindness, compassion, relieve my suffering and distress. Hear my prayer.