Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Daniel 9:18
“Why won’t God answer me?”
“Why does it feel like he isn’t listening?”
“I pray and pray, but it just doesn’t feel like God is listening to me at all.”
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe you never think these types of thoughts—but maybe you do. I know I do. These kinds of things and worse.
Sometimes it can get pretty frustrating when it feels like I am praying, I am asking, I am seeking…and I am getting nothing in return—or at least none of the somethings I am seeking!
It’s times like these that I need the reminder of Daniel. He has a nice way of saying, “We don’t deserve for you to answer our prayers, but you are so loving and merciful that we believe you will. We believe it enough to ask, even though we have no right to.”
“We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”
I forget this easily. I forget that I don’t have a right to the things I’m asking God for. I forget that me wanting something doesn’t mean I should have it. I forget that just because it seems like the best option from my point of view doesn’t mean it is. And I can easily forget that no matter how well I try, no matter how faithful I think I’m being, I should never ask out of a sense of my own righteousness. If I ask God for anything I should ask as I fall on his mercy.
It’s only in his mercy that he answers. It’s not because of me, my wisdom, my rights, my needs, my anything. Only his mercy. Always his mercy.
In the Gospel of Luke we find a blind man who hears that Jesus is passing by. He wants to be healed and so he cries out. Not once, but multiple times. And he continually says the same thing.
He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Luke 18:38
Have mercy on me. That’s pretty simple. No long explanation of how he deserves to be healed. No bargaining and promising to do this or that for God if he is healed. No attempts to manipulate or get Jesus to feel sorry for him. No grandiose attempts to display that he has great faith.
Just a simple call for mercy.
And the response? Well, Jesus heals him. But Jesus also makes a profound statement about the man.
Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” Luke 18:42
Your faith has healed you.
What faith? He didn’t ask in faith to be healed…did he? He didn’t make some magnanimous proclamation about how he knew Jesus would heal him. He didn’t ask for healing at all. He asked for mercy.
His faith in the mercy of Jesus brought healing.
Instead of calling for specifics; instead of demanding, lobbying, justifying, the blind man simply asked for mercy. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. We have no rights, we don’t always know what’s best, and never deserve the ALL that Jesus gives. So we might as well just acknowledge it and fall on his mercy.
The next time I need something from God, the next time I am about to pray for something I would like to see happen, I think I will simply ask for mercy and leave it at that. After all, Jesus loved us so much he laid down his life for us—and this while we were still sinners. What more could there be than this mercy?
Yes, I think I’ll just ask for mercy and leave it at that. That is far more than I could ask for anyway!