Tuesday, May 20, 2014
seven word prayer
People will use just about anything in order to justify themselves. Money, work, family, sports, politics. These common forms of self-justification are there to assure us that "at least we're better than the next guy."
Most of us have all tried this to a greater or lesser extent, and we should know by now that it just doesn't work. But our society and our culture are relentless in their demands of us, and so it's easy to take the bait, especially if you're a fairly accomplished person and think you can "rise to the challenge".
To live without this kind of self-justification is difficult, because it can make us feel weak and vulnerable. But in reality, living this way can be extremely liberating. As you come to accept the fact that you've been accepted by a good and gracious God, you begin to realize that you don't need to prove yourself anymore. All of that old stuff is over and done with. God loves you and accepts you, and He is the only One that really matters. In Him is where true freedom and liberty are found.
There is a little prayer in the Gospel of Luke that gets to the heart of this. It is the seven word prayer mumbled by the tax collector in the parable as he stood at a distance and stared at the ground: "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner." When we breathe these words and throw ourselves fully upon the grace and mercy of God, we experience His love and forgiveness without limits or conditions. God's agape love for us in Christ is unconditional - no strings attached.
And so, understood correctly, the seven word prayer is the most important prayer we can ever say - the only prayer we really need. Why? Because it comes from a clear diagnosis of our human condition, and from a confidence in a loving God who welcomes sinners as well as self-righteous saints.