Rare is the book that arrests my attention long enough to convict me of my need for its message so that I skip parts of my schedule to keep reading, but for a variety of reasons, The Mercy Prayer by Robert Gelinas has been exactly that experience. The book takes the idea of God’s mercy and shows not only how pervasive a theme it is throughout the Bible, but how central a character trait it should be for God’s people because it’s central to the character of God. And this alone would be worth considering, but this is not the stand-out part of the book.
On page 47, we read these words: “the inevitable aftermath of sin is shame…” which is spot on and well said, but turn the page and you’ll see these words: “Resisting temptation is a form of suffering.” Didn’t see that coming did you? Neither did I, but read on:
“When we are tempted, we are pummeled by the traitor within the flesh, bombarded by an aggravating system of messages (the world), and harassed by the accuser (satan)–sometimes all at once!” On page 49, Gelinas continues with this:”Temptation is a form of trauma and sustained temptation is sustained suffering. To resist sin day after day is traumatic. Going to battle can take its toll.” Now, this is worth the price of the book alone. I rarely if ever see a worthwhile and helpful discussion on temptation, yet near the center of this book on mercy, is a profound piece on the ‘trauma of temptation’. The person who does not profess faith in Christ or who does not care about the things of God does not care about temptation because there’s no battle, no fight against….only a giving in or going on.
Sometimes we sin because we’re tired of resisting and fighting and clawing and we cry out ‘Lord have mercy’. There’s more to this book and it’s worth picking up, but this section alone is spiritual gold and I am grateful for it. I have battled depression on and off for many years and have hurt people in the process through sins of commission and omission and ‘Lord have mercy on me,’ is something I say often, but something that grows more urgent as I grow older. I know without a doubt that I have nothing to offer outside of God’s mercy to a hurting world.
The Mercy Prayer won’t answer all of your hard questions, but you’ll find a friend in Gelinas who understands that without mercy, we’re all in trouble and without this kind of prayer, we’re on dangerous ground. Lord, have mercy on me….and you…..and the world in which we live. Yes, Lord have mercy.
Good questions and thoughts on Mercy from the Dave Matthews Band
solid song, provocative video, and more thoughts on Mercy from a different angle.