Saturday, January 9, 2010
This year, like all the ones before it, promises to be full. Full of the yin and yang of life- good and bad, chaos and quiet, smiles and tears. All of my personal choices and the broader effects of being a citizen in this fallen world are already known by God. There is strange and deep comfort in the shadow of the Almighty, but I also feel an urgency. Urgency to orient my life around real, desperate and daily prayer. God is big but I am not. I know I have His anointing. I know He calls me his own and that calling is sure. But I need His eyes and ears and strength for daily life. Just like I need breakfast. And sleep. Fresh air and sunshine.
So I have purposed to write down a few of the prayers I find myself going back to as a reminder to myself of those sweet and familiar conversations. Also, in writing, I hope to deepen my own understanding of the whispers that escape my lips. And pause to add story to prayer so that I will not forget that I have prayed. And that I have been answered. And helped. And fed.
Some years ago I was introduced to what is commonly called The Jesus Prayer. It is old, perhaps dating back to the fifth century. The version that I find myself coming back to is this: “Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” It has a nice rhythm and I find myself praying this prayer when I run. There is something right about matching my footsteps with the cadence of an ancient plea. It feels like walking into a large room in a monastery. The walls are washed in white. Light streams in from windows. The floors are worn wood plank. The silence is thick with God. And without the distractions of the world I feel my smallness. And inside this prayer, my smallness doesn’t sting or rub, like it does out there. This smallness fits me in the palm of God’s great hand. I understand my need for Jesus and rest, truly rest, in that grace.
Sometimes this prayer catches in my throat as I replay recent scenes where I lacked mercy with my husband and children. Or where my thoughts towards others, which I would never be so bold too speak, carried no fragrance of God. But I push the little words out of my mouth anyway, and let the sunlight of Christ’s mercy bleach them of their power over me.
And when I have washed in these words and felt Christ’s redemption for myself, I sometimes pray this pray for others. Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on Jason. And in praying for my husband, I am steeled for battle at his side. I am ready to see what he sees. To see him as his Heavenly Father does. And to be an agent of good in his life. Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on Sis. This one stabs. Because she is like me. And often her esteem is wounded at my hand as I struggle to discipline and shepherd a heart like mine. And sometimes, before I have the good sense to stop myself, I pray: Lord, Jesus Christ, have mercy on my neighbor. This kind of mercy usually involves an invitation to my home, which means I have to either vacuum or swallow my pride, both of which are inevitably required. Or an offer to feed snack to someone else’s children when I really would rather do something significant like organize the back room.
Oh, that I would live inside this prayer and pray it more often. A loud buzzer just told me the laundry is done. And so I rise to empty and reload the washer with more of my family’s dirty things. And to pray for mercy and ascendance to a place where I can see that all of the laundry, clean and dirty, has been gifted to me by a gracious God.