Matthew 9 – Lord, Have Mercy

Calvary Baptist Church Edmonton

Kyrie Eleison – Lord, have mercy. This was the prayer of the blind men in Matthew 9:27. And, indeed, it is the most frequent request made of Jesus in the Gospels. “Have mercy on us, Son of David”.

Throughout all the ages, people cry out “Lord, have mercy” when they are afraid, worried, suffering, isolated, or in despair. And it can be our prayer today too.

Are you worried about your health, job, or finances? Lord, have mercy.

Are you feeling isolated from your friends, family and community? Lord, have mercy.

Are you uncertain about the decisions of those in positions of power? Lord, have mercy.

Are you overwhelmed by a feed of heavy and distressing news stories? Lord, have mercy. 

Are you unsure of what you can even pray in troubling times? Lord, have mercy.

 

So what does it mean to ask our Lord for mercy?

The most used Hebrew word for God’s mercy is חֶסֶד or checed, which means “kindness or piety towards”. Checed describes how God freely and graciously turns toward humans with care. Pope Francis says it like this: Mercy is opening one’s heart to another’s wretchedness. God’s mercy means that he sees the misery of his people and hears their cries.

Mercy is the attribute of God that responds to you with loving-kindness and favour, even though you truly have no claim to it, given that you are a sinner.

When God’s people are experiencing pain, suffering or desperation, it is His mercy to turn compassionately toward them, and not away from them.

Mercy is what caused Jesus to choose Matthew, a despised tax collector, to become his disciple. Mercy is what caused Jesus to turn toward the bleeding woman, who was shunned and isolated from society, and to instead call her “daughter”.

When you pray “Lord have mercy” you are asking God to look at your situation, turn towards you, hear your laments, and respond with a loving kindness that will change you.

And God will respond to you because He has promised you His mercy. Psalm 136 repeats this promise 26 times! 

 

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

For His mercy endures forever …

 

To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,

For His mercy endures forever …

 

To Him who led His people through the wilderness,

For His mercy endures forever …

 

Who remembered us in our lowly state,

For His mercy endures forever …

 

Who gives food to all flesh,

For His mercy endures forever …

 

Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven!

For His mercy endures forever …

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is his faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).

 

From the beginning of time, in all of creation, to all of God’s people, whether you are wandering in the wilderness or in need of deliverance. His mercy endures forever.

The Lord, have mercy prayer is typically associated with Eastern Orthodox litanies, which are requests that are repeated, three times, twelve times, sometimes even up to one hundred times. In this tradition it is also known as a “breath” prayer – a practice taught by the monastic fathers in which you unite your breathing to your praying.

In the Western Roman Catholic or Anglican churches, it is common to find this prayer either spoken or sung repeatedly as a part of a regular service. 

My college choir also sang a beautiful rendition of this prayer; listen here if you are interested.

 

So Calvary, in these troubling times, when we can’t gather together to worship and seek after our King, we can still pray together “Lord, have mercy”.

Take some time today to quiet your heart and your mind. Relax your breathing. Try to fight the distractions and busy thoughts.

Breathe in deeply and slowly “Lord”. Acknowledge that He is Lord – He is sovereign and in control. 

Breathe out deeply and slowly “have mercy”. Let go of the thoughts and emotions that are causing you fear, suffering or distress.

Lord, have mercy”. As you continue to pray this prayer, pay attention to what God reveals to you. 

Is he offering healing to a wound or forgiveness of a sin? Is he drawing your attention toward someone specifically? Is he showing you a way to offer mercy to those around you?

 

Kyrie Eleison – Lord, have mercy.


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