With Every Beat of Our Hearts

The most answered prayer has often been called the prayer of the heart. As the Eastern Orthodox church sought to turn the prayer into a way of life, they discovered it is possible to know it by heart—literally. They say it’s possible to pray “Lord, have mercy” with every heartbeat.

Try it.

Tonight, when you lay your head down on your pillow, as the sounds of the day begin to fade and your body begins to settle, you’ll reach a point of quietness in which you can actually hear and feel your heart beating. You can begin to pray the mercy prayer in rhythm with your heart.

Lord, Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Lord, Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.

Lord, Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me.

If you do this, you will find that you will continue praying in your sleep. Throughout the night, your subconscious will still seek God. And when you stir,Kyrie eleisonwill be your first waking thought.

With practice, we can build the mercy prayer into our biology. As our hearts pump our lifeblood through our bodies, our spirits will proclaim with each pulse, his “love [mercy] is better than life” (Ps. 63:3 nkjv). Someday our hearts will stop, but his mercies will never cease; for our God always has been and forever will be a compassionate, gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness.

If we were to seek mercy with every beat of our hearts, that would be over a hundred thousand requests every day! Imagine the response.

So why would we want to pray for mercy that much? Doesn’t every heartbeat sound just a little excessive? As one who has made the mercy prayer my most prayed prayer, I’ve learned that it’s difficult to receive mercy multiple times. No one wants to be a repeat offender; and yet, as hard as it is to admit, that is exactly what we are.

We all have made our promises to God: “Okay, God. I love you and I’ve done things I shouldn’t have. I repent. Now I’m going to walk in the path of the kingdom for real. Have mercy on me! Thank you so much for not doling out the consequences of my sin. I’m now going to walk in your ways.” But then we go right out and fall back into the habits and activities we just swore off.

We are so sinful. Unloving. Prideful. We find ourselves coming back to God sooner than we like to admit.

We’ve heard he’s the God of second chances, but we’re wondering what happens when you’ve used your second chance three, four, or five times ago. Pride is what keeps us from coming to him again. Pride keeps us from saying, “I’ve messed up again,” and pride is what keeps us far from him.

But because of God’s mercy, instead of saying he’s the God of second chances, it’s more accurate to say that he’s the God of another chance.


From The Mercy Prayer by Robert Gelinas ©2013 (Thomas Nelson) Used with permission.


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