There are times when I let the difficulties of life get me so down and discouraged that I have trouble praying in faith for the Lord to meet my needs, and to grant me His blessings. The last time I felt like this, I was having my quiet time with God, when He led me to Psalm 123. As I meditated on this passage, I sensed the Lord saying to me, "I want you to start praying for My mercy." God knew I had been feeling especially unworthy of His blessings lately, and He knew exactly what I needed. As I continued to fix my mind and heart on this psalm, I realized that this psalmist wasn't petitioning the Lord for His mercy in a half-hearted way, but he was determined to call on God until his pleas were answered. The phrase, "Our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He shows us His mercy," bears this out. (Psalm 123:2 NIV) Suddenly, I had the confidence to pray, "Lord, show me Your mercy."
If I had doubts that I was hearing from God on this matter, they evaporated when, during my quiet time with Him the following day, He led me to Psalm 130. Here, the psalmist says: "Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let Your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness; therefore You are feared." (Psalm 130:1-4 NIV) My heart was greatly encouraged when I realized that the author of this psalm didn't hesitate to cry out to the Lord for His mercy, even though he was painfully aware of his sins. Instead of being focused on his performance, he was focused on the fact that God's mercy and eagerness to forgive were greater than his sin. And he recognized that the Lord's forgiving nature was one of the very reasons why He deserved to be worshiped and revered.
When Jesus tells the Parable of the Tax Collector and the Pharisee, He illustrates the stark contrast between the attitudes of these two men. The Pharisee pleads his good works to God, while the tax collector pleads for mercy, saying, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." (Luke 18:13 NIV) It is this humble attitude that Jesus praises. And while it does take humility to pray for the Lord's mercy, it often takes boldness, too. Sometimes we can be so aware of our sinfulness, that the last thing we want to do is go to God and ask for mercy. But that is exactly what He wants us to do. Hebrews 4:16 (AMP) says: "Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]." It's good that we hear a lot about the importance of confessing and forsaking our sins, but we need to hear more about our need to pray for God's mercy, which can be just as important in nurturing an intimate relationship with Him.
These days, when I have a pressing need, it's not unusual for me to pray, "Lord show me Your mercy in this situation." I find this manner of prayer especially comforting when my circumstances are serious or disheartening, or when my problems are the result of my own stubbornness or stupidity. Scripture says, "[The Lord] does not treat us as our sins deserve, or repay us according to our iniquities." (Psalm 103:10 NIV) When you are feeling so self-condemned that you are having trouble going to God, remember this verse, as well as the one that follows it, "For His mercy toward those who fear and honor Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth." (Psalm 103:11 TLB) If you love the Lord with all your heart and long to please Him, then you are in line for His boundless mercy. And you can pray with confidence along with the psalmist, "May Your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need"! (Psalm 79:8 NIV)
Prayer: Lord, help me to get to know You better each day, so that I may have a greater understanding of the depth of Your mercy and love. Remind me often that You said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy," and help me to sow seeds of mercy everywhere I go. (Matthew 5:7 KJV) Thank You for allowing me to experience Your mercy in healing, comforting, and life-changing ways!
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