READ: Proverbs 30, Luke 18, Revelation 10
LORD, HAVE MERCY
Jesus loves it when we are persistent in prayer, when we keep coming back to Him over and over again in faith. Luke 18 tells us that if an unjust judge can be moved by the persistence of a supplicant, how much more shall the Judge of all the earth do right when we keep asking Him for what He wants to do? It is our “continual coming” (v. 5) that delights the heart of God; it is our “crying out day and night” (v. 7) that moves God to action. This is not because God is slow to act. Rather He is longing for us to be like Him through sharing His passions, and the longer we desire what He wants, the more we become like Him. Part of God’s delight in our persistent prayer is its effect on us–let alone the effect on the person or situation we are praying for. Prayer indeed changes the supplicant.
There is one prayer (which constantly repeated) particularly makes glad the heart of God. It is when we humbly ask Jesus to have mercy on us. When in prayer we compare ourselves to others, we can occasionally look good. When in prayer we compare ourselves to God, we can only look bad (vv. 9-14). Pure prayer views self in the light of God’s character, as the goal of prayer is to become like God Himself more than it is to gain answers. When we approach God and compare ourselves to Him, there is but one plea appropriate to escape our lips: “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Other prayers are self-serving. Any request or petition of God is a prayer, thus the rich young ruler prayed amiss (v. 18). The young man prayed in order to receive something, not to be transformed into God’s image. Jesus shocked him by pointing out the one thing he lacked was EVERYTHING because everything is the only thing Jesus asks for. The social contract of prayer is simply this: We approach prayer asking God to have mercy on us, to mercy us enough to make us like Him as we share His passions. God agrees to answer this prayer behind all prayers as long as we agree to give Him everything.
If prayer has become a way of foolishly exalting ourselves (Proverbs 30:32), we need to clap a hand over our mouth–for we are not praying, we are only striving. The heart of our prayer, the prayer that needs to be repeated daily, if not hourly, is that of the blind, longing to see Jesus: “Son of David, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:38)! When we pray this prayer over and over, when we cry it out, when we shout it continually, when we pray it even to the annoyance of those around us, the heart of Jesus is both thrilled and moved for we are finally praying the one thing we lack.