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The Mercy Prayer

rgelinasIn the Discover the Word recording studio today, I’m looking forward to our interview with Robert Gelinas, author of a book that is releasing in the bookstores this week called, The Mercy Prayer.

In preparation, I’m finding the book to be surprisingly provocative in the way it develops the tension between mercy and justice. His first line in his first chapter of “The Most Prayed Prayer” is that “No judge wants to be labeled soft on crime”.

In a day of that has given so much attention to a wave of new atheism, Robert says he personally thinks the best argument for not believing in God is the lack of justice we see all around us. Yet, ironically, he explains his own deep confidence in God’s existence by what he sees as the overwhelming evidence and story of God’s mercy.

In unfolding what turns out to be the consuming focus of his own life, Robert writes about the dear grandmother who raised him, taking him to Sunday School every week before he was 5 years old, but who would not darken the door of the church herself. Later in his teen years she explained to Robert that she could never believe in a God who would allow Mafia hit-men into heaven.

Am expecting to be able to say more about Robert and his story after today. But wanted to give you a preview of what this author believes is not only the most prayed prayer in the Bible; but also the most prayed prayer of his own life— the prayer that is closest to the heart of God, and the prayer all of us can rely on Jesus to answer.


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14 Responses to “The Mercy Prayer”

  1. BruceC says:

    It will be interesting to what is said further on. But at this point maybe his grandmother did what so many do; put God’s justice on a human plane. While it is true that “Mafia hit men” need to be dealt with in the criminal justice system that is part of our society God’s court room is run by standards we all sometimes forget. If He ran His court like ours then no one would escape punishment; as all are guilty. In His court the penalty has already been paid for all of us who are guilty and all we need do is accept our guilty verdict and put our faith in Christ. Thank God He gives us what we don’t deserve and doesn’t give us what we do deserve. Amazed at how human pride blinds so many to this simple fact.

    BruceC
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  2. SFDBWV says:

    In the Eastern Orthodox Church there is a prayer called “The Jesus Prayer” it goes as follows; “Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

    This prayer is a form of unceasing prayer given in the Orthodox faith and is repeated over and over and all who do confess a peace that follows.

    I believe Ed Dobbs mentioned his adoption of this prayer and his spiritual peace in the interview Mart had with him.

    Jesus said “if you ask anything in my name I will do it.” (John 14:13, 14)

    In this prayer you acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God, it is said that no one can confess that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3), and asking for mercy is the prayer of the publican gave in Luke 18:13.

    Mercy is always given when ask for of God.

    Steve

  3. swwagner says:

    It is definitely true that there is a lack of justice in society today. People who need help do not get it and criminals get away with…well, their crimes. I can see that mankind keeps flopping its toes over the line again and again, daring someone to do something about it.

    This will take some more thought…looking forward to the comments to follow.

  4. remarutho says:

    Good Morning Mart & Friends –

    Though I have not read “The Mercy Prayer,” I immediately think of the prayer of the tax collector in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. (Luke 18:11, 13) “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” What else can we pray?

    Keeping any law other than the Law of Freedom and Love makes us accountable to the whole Old Testament Law. I certainly do not want to go there with the legalists! The Letter of James calls it “the law of liberty.” (James 2:12, 13) I am not sure a follower of Jesus can compare him/herself to anybody else. We stand all alone at Christ’s throne. There we ourselves account only for what we have done or left undone.

    Blessings,
    Maru

  5. SFDBWV says:

    Whereas it is not at all possible to discuss an interview that has yet to happen or a book that isn’t available until August 3rd, the conversation can center for now on the ideas of *justice*, which often come into conflict with *mercy*.

    How did you feel when you saw Saddam Hussein hung by his countrymen?

    How did you feel when Zimmerman was acquitted of murder?

    How did you feel when O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder?

    Think of the most despicable character you know of and then imagine God giving that person the same mercy you ask of for yourself and those you love.

    How do you justify all the wrongs you see people you know and those you love suffer today?

    Go into a children’s hospital and look at these precious little ones suffering and dying; wondering where is God’s mercy or justice in such suffering, all the while knowing there are people all over the globe who abuse little children for their sadistic and sexual pleasure.

    Perhaps you seen one of those video surveillance camera viewings of some 25 year old thug beating an old woman in an elevator or hallway in order to steal what ever she may have on her?

    What would you like to see *done* to such people?

    Oh yes it is the correct *Christian* comment to say you would like to see that person repent come to salvation and make restitution for their crimes.

    But your first reaction is swift justice. At least that is most often how I feel, before I take time to try and put Jesus into the issue.

    Jesus changes everything, even the God of justice shown in the OT is changed into the God of mercy in the NT, at least temporarily.

    Just as the, would be, stone throwers in the story of the adulterous woman walked away ill at ease and uncomfortable with Jesus’ action and accusation, so do we.

    We all want justice for others all the while wanting mercy for ourselves. In both secular and spiritual matters.

    Can anyone escape the need for Jesus’ mercy, I think not. Should that same mercy be shown in secular civil matters?

    Steve

  6. oneg2dblu says:

    Has God called us to be little gods of Mercy, or has he called us to be a people of Civil Laws and Justice?
    Is justice to be considered always blind, or is justice to be just following the letter of the law it sees?
    Is the law unjust and without its mercy?
    Or is it really just only if it is just followed, and unmerciful to those who do not?
    Who gets to decide in these matters in the here and now, and who gets to decide their eternal consequnenes?

    When it comes to repetitive rote responses, I’m told just humming Ohm, over and over can have a similar result on all those who believe and follow it as well.

    I guess it all depends on where you place your faith, and where that place of faith comes from.
    The temporal, or the eternal.
    Come Jesus! Gary

  7. poohpity says:

    Bruce, I so agree that the simple fact is when we call on God’s justice, we are so there too except for those who feel that another’s sin is worse than their own. That is so laughable for those who are in Christ Jesus not to recognize the daily grace we are shown by a merciful Savior. Most seem to be like that Pharisee who tries to say all the good he has done and not recognize by faith the state of his own heart. Luke 18:11-12 NIV

    When I witnessed to that guy in my doctors office who asked me, “If Hitler asked to be forgiven would God forgive him?” to which I replied, “yes”. He then went on to say, “if God can forgive him then I do not want to know a God like that” which left my jaw hanging. What about you my friend as he sat there railing on how many times he had been so angry with everybody but he did not have the faith we do to recognize his own condition before a Holy God not compared to other human beings.

    Give us the faith to see the daily grace we have received it is the only evidence that we are aware of the truth that sets us free to show that ongoing mercy to others.

    Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.

  8. foreverblessed says:

    Isn’t the Mercy prayer of Jesus is this one:
    -Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing-
    Luke 23 :34, it is only in the Gospel of Luke, couldn’t find it in the other Gospels.
    That’s how it is, if a criminal asks for forgiveness and is genuine repentant, that’s it. Jesus came to take away the sins of all people.
    That’s Mercy.
    If He has forgiven me, so He forgives the ones who have hurt me too, fi they repent and ask for mercy. But if I think that the other person must suffer because of what he has done to me, then I do not know of what the depth of God’s grace is.
    I am glad that I am not a judge in court, but if I would be, I would be concerned with the fact that the criminal must have a way of turning from his ways.
    God wants all people to come to repentance, and He knows how is best for them.
    (I was still commenting in the former topic about Jacob, it is still working in me, and I have another comment going)

  9. poohpity says:

    If God was different in the OT than in the NT why did many write of His wonderful mercies that are new every morning. God did not change but our understanding does.

  10. poohpity says:

    Do we not forgive even when one does not ask just because we have been forgiven as in treating others the way we want to be treated? It seems we are forgiven even before we ask but the asking is what shows that we recognize our need before God. Isn’t that what was meant in “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”? Recognizing that is how we know to extend forgiveness, grace and mercy to others, at times without them asking. If I had to wait for many to ask me to forgive them then I would go to my grave without them ever acknowledging their wrongs most times because they are so busy looking at others rather than their own behavior.

  11. poohpity says:

    The sinful woman who anointed Jesus feet with oil and tears did not ask for forgiveness but He did forgive her and then said because she recognized her heart condition and the amount of love and mercy shown to her she would be able to love more then those who did not recognize their need because they feel they do not have much to be forgiven for. (Luke 7:47 NIV) It was not her changing her behavior it was her faith in the One who showed her mercy that she was saved. Luke 7:50 NIV

    It was through faith that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were saved not the things they did but who they trusted and believed in.

  12. tracey5tgbtg says:

    We could also ask has God called us to be a people of Mercy or has He called us to be little gods of Civil Laws and Justice.

    I would think the book is about the mercy of God toward man, not about the earthly legal system.

    I feel that we really don’t see things the way God does. If a pastor is raising funds to build a church, would he be happy to see a business owner put in $10,000? Would he even notice an old lady who put two pennies in? Luke 21:1-4

    We see someone else’s sin and it looks heinous while our own sin seems pretty run of the mill and easily forgiveable. God sees it differently than we do. There is no one who deserves mercy although it is available to all.

  13. cbrown says:

    I would like to share portions of a 9 page letter I received from an inmate I met in prison ministry who has been sentenced to a life sentence without parole. “I can remember like it was yesterday;I cried out Lord,I can’t wait much longer,please whatever you have to do to make me fit do it quickly and in the recesses of my spirit I heard, ‘the timing of events are not yours to say’.Then I said Lord forgive me.Again within the recesses my spirit the Lord said ‘in an instant a life may turn around;a heart may be open in a moment of grace.You must be willing to start anew’. I cried out Lord please teach me. Do and take however long you have to,but Lord don’t leave me. Then I remembered the Scripture ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’”.

  14. Mart De Haan says:

    cbrown, that excerpt is a real and wonderful example of how God’s mercy can help and change us in the most extreme circumstances.

    It shows our need of what only God can do while leaving us with questions that only God knows how to answer. i.e. What if by our intentional wrong or negligence we rob others of their opportunity to find God’s mercy for themselves in this life?

    Our DTW recording session with author Robert Gelinas (The Mercy Prayer) was all that I hoped for and more. Out of his own experience, and through his ongoing involvement with hurting and abandoned people– he pushed our need for both justice and mercy to the limit.

    On one hand my take is that Robert has been radicalized not only by the wrongs he sees and lives with in his own community, but also by how desperately we all need mercy as much as the air we breathe.

    He believes, as the cbrown excerpt above illustrates, that God wants to, and can relieve (i.e. temporarily lessen and ultimately resolve), the consequences of sin and suffering in even the most extreme circumstances.

    He emphasizes that the heart of God– as seen in Christ– has always been about transformation rather than condemnation and that (while there is a place for fear) hearts are most deeply changed in the awareness and experience of mercy rather than threat.

    As we recorded 10 conversations that hopefully will eventually be aired on DTW, I was deeply impressed by Robert’s conviction that mercy may well be the theme of the Bible that deserves the most emphasis in our day to day lives.

    In one of the last conversations we recorded, Robert Gelinas showed from the Scriptures and teaching of Jesus that God gives us mercy with strings attached– the mercy he extends to us he expects us to extend to others.

    Throughout the day I think I became more aware of what Robert has seen– that even though God does not remove all consequences of our wrongs– he does want to involve us with him in bringing his presence and mercy to those who are suffering because of their own sin– or because of the sins of others.

    Am looking forward to finishing the book, while wanting to experience more of the prayer that Robert begins his book with,

    “For those who sin and those who suffer. For those who suffer because of sin For those who sin to alleviate their suffering. Lord have mercy on us.”

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