Tag Archives: mercy prayer

According to the Word of God

This morning in group, one of the men shared that he is thankful that God will never leave nor forsake him, according to the word of God.  

According to the word of God.

I was impressed with the way he stated this and told him so.  What impressed me is that his assurance that God was with him was not based on how he felt but rooted in the trustworthiness of God’s word.   God said he would never leave him and this young man believed it, regardless of his feelings.

No doubt this is why he is 20 weeks sober and continuing to flourish.

In my personal experience in both my own recovery and being a coach for others I have learned that the extent to which we flourish in our recovery – and life! – is the extent to which we have utter reliance on God’s words over any other words.  Those who continue to preach the gospel to themselves, who consistently chew on and digest scripture, who replace the voices of this world with the voice of the Holy Spirit are those who get and remain sober and are less likely to allow the troubles of this life to knock them off the wagon.

It’s imperative for us to daily remind ourselves that we are in a war and there is an enemy that wants to destroy us.  His name is Satan, which literally means “The Accuser.”   The bible says that he is a liar and is the father of lies (John 8:44).  Ever thing that is untrue finds its genesis in Satan, The Accuser.  He lives to accuse those who belong to Christ (Rev. 12:10).  He lives to sow lies into us meant to harden our hearts towards the truth of God, inspire bitterness in our hearts towards others and make us feel unworthy of the abundant life Jesus promised.

And he’s crafty. He has been doing this from the beginning and knows our weak points.  He knows how to whip us into a frenzy of anger or lust or pride or self-indulgence.  He knows how to inspire in us the justifications to seek our own way and defend our rights and put ourselves before anyone else.  He knows how to cause us to doubt the faithfulness of God or the kindness of others.

Your best defense against this liar is a good offense.   My counselor, when he talks about the way Satan works his lies into my head, will get very animated and jump up and scream,

Damn him!

It reminds me that I’m fighting someone very real who is playing for keeps.  My best defense is a good offense.  I need to be in the word. I need to replace the lies with the truth so that my mind can be renewed (Rom. 12:1-2).

I’ve written extensively on this blog about how to do that.   Three very practical ways you can begin today are these:

1.  Get into the word and begin by reading Psalm 119.  It will, if you open yourself to it, nurture in you a love for God’s words.   If you commit to the reading I outline HERE, you will find in a few months a hunger for God’s truth that you’ve never known before.

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2. Pray for people instead of think about them, including yourself.  The Mercy Prayer (click the link) is a prayer that changed my life and my thoughts towards God, myself and others.  Commit to this prayer for the next 3 months and I promise you that your inner world will do a 180.

3. Finally, ask yourself this question often:  Is this feeling, emotion or response I’m about to give one that is produced by the Spirit of God or by some other spirit?  My counselor reminds me that it will always be one or the other.  Recalling this again and again helps me to take every thought captive for Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).  If it’s not from God, renounce it and replace it with truth from God’s word.

According to God’s word, you are a beloved child of God (1 John 3:2).  You were worth dying for even while an enemy of God’s, thus proving God’s love for you (Rom. 5:10)!    Nothing, NOTHING, can separate you from God’s love, neither death nor life, not even angels or demons – including The Accuser – nor the present or future nor any other kind of power (Rom. 8:38-39).   Let that soak in.   Let those be the words that shape you.

Let it be so, according to the Word of God.

Win the battle in your mind

In the course of my own recovery and through counseling many others I’ve concluded this one simple truth:

our mind is a battlefield.

Every compulsion, every relapse, every giving over to whatever is our “thing” begins in the mind.   If I had a penny for every time I heard, or said myself, “I was having a really good day, and then this image/thought entered my mind and I….”  I’d have a lot of pennies.

I wasted many years of my life and did a lot of damage to myself and others because I never learned (and nobody taught me) how to win the battle in my mind.   In fact, I never really understood that I was at war!   While I often would say I was “struggling” with pornography what I really meant was this:  A lustful thought keeps entering my mind and 99% of the time I cave in to it.  That is not the picture of a person struggling but of being a doormat (For more on that topic read “Are you REALLY Struggling against habitual sin?”) 

If you are serious about kicking your habit of looking at porn (or whatever else you have a compulsion towards) you will need to get serious about a few things.  Here’s a short list…

1. Get serious about this warfare thing.   Really.  Some segments of Christianity will play down the warfare imagery in scripture, others glorify it.  You need to get away from both and simply, yet hugely, take it seriously.   A cursory read of Scripture makes it abundantly clear that there is a battle for your soul and there will be winners and there will be losers.  The enemy is always prowling like a roaring lion seeking one to devour (1 Peter 5:8).  It’s no surprise that included in this admonition by Peter is to “be alert and of sober mind.”   You need to know that when you determine to pursue holiness in body, mind, and soul, you will be entering a battle with the enemy who has studied you.  He knows where to trip you up, he knows what thoughts will seduce you, he knows how to cause you to stumble.   So be alert!   Take this warfare motif found throughout all of scripture seriously, and view it as God’s textbook written solely for your benefit to know how to win not just the battle but the war.

2. Get serious about your thoughts.  The bible teaches that we ought to take every thought captive to be obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).   Surely this is to include suspending those lustful thoughts (or other compulsions) and surrendering them over to the blood of Jesus.  Any thought contrary to the revealed will of God ought to be – and can be! – brought into obedience with Christ.  Do not fall for the enemies lie which says your thoughts do not really matter.   Jesus said that if you have even the intent of lust in your heart it is as good as committing adultery and that if you harbor anger you have committed murder (Matt. 5:27ff).  He also taught that it’s what is inside us that defiles us.  Clean the inside of the cup (which will include your mind!) and all will be clean (Matt. 23:26)!   Your thoughts matter to God.   And they will either lead you to life or shipwreck you again and again.

Know this:  Just because a thought enters your mind does not mean you have sinned.   As I said above, the enemy will bombard you with all sorts of schemes and make you believe you are justified to dwell upon them.  You have a choice when a sinful thought crosses your radar:  Chew on it or spit it out.    Keep reading to learn how to do the latter.

3. Get serious about fighting.   Your most valuable weapon in the fight against your thoughts is prayer.   I teach my guys in recovery and my church in recovery (because we are all in recovery) to pray instead of think.  When I would struggle with impure thoughts and had determined I would not be a slave to them any longer I began praying the mercy prayer almost with every breath I breathed.   It would be on my lips when I rose and when I laid down at night.  I would recite it hundreds of times throughout the day and even more when I was bombarded with temptation.  I would go to bed exhausted from praying but victorious.   And guess what?  Over time the battle got less and less intense.  Over time I realized that I was “being transformed by the renewing of my mind” (Rom. 12:1-2).  My mind was actually learning to think -and pray – in new ways.  I was taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

The first wave of attack against any enemy force is going to be the hardest.   And the bloodiest.   If you are new to this sort of warfare you can expect some casualties.  But don’t give up!   Surround yourself with like-minded soldiers who are fighting the good fight as well.  Call them consistently and constantly, particularly in the early stages until you get some traction (60-90 days minimum).   It won’t be long before you are the one others are calling, and you’ll be sharing your experience, strength and hope with them.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil. 4:8)

Mercy Wins

Have you ever been offended?  Ever feel as though someone wronged you, misunderstood you, didn’t treat you with the respect you thought you deserved, looked at you funny, ignored you or responded to you in a way you didn’t like?

Every one of us should be nodding yes right now.

What do you do when that happens?    Maybe you respond by ignoring it as though it never happened, just smile and walk away.  Or perhaps you retaliate with a zinger of your own.   Maybe you seethe over it throughout the day and into the night, reliving the event in your mind’s eye and wishing you had said this or that to defend yourself.    Maybe you cry.

In this post I want to give you something better to do.  I want to teach you a prayer that changed my life and the way I respond to almost everything, including being offended.  It’s called the Mercy Prayer.

I’m teaching through the book of James at my church and this past Sunday we were in  James 2:1-13.   Here James calls out those of us who would show favoritism to others based on their wealth or status and calls such favoritism sin.   The scene has two parties:  the ones doing the offending (those showing favoritism) and the ones being offended (the ones being told “sit over there“).    In both cases, judgment happens, does it not?   The easy one to point out is the one looking at how someone is dressed or how much money they have is judging by appearance.    Most of us will intuitively hear that as wrong on some level.    The other case where judgment happens, the one we are less likely to see (or not want to see), is the one perpetrated by the offended.    This is the judgment we cast upon those who wrong us in some way or another, where we secretly revile them in our heart of hearts while we are being told to go “sit over there.”    It’s the easiest sort of judgment to justify because we feel an injustice has been done to us, and if we don’t execute some sort of judgment (even if it is in the scenarios we live out in our thoughts) then who will?

James levels all of us in this passage by calling all of the judgment we cast upon others as sin and reminds us that judgment is without mercy to those who show no mercy.   Mercy, he says, wins over judgment (James 2:13).

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So how do we do that?  How can we start winning with mercy rather than losing in judgment when we find ourselves being judged unfairly by others or offended by everyone else?

What has worked for me and many others is learning and praying this prayer by Rex Andrews called The Mercy Prayer.    Over time I have learned to say this prayer, in whole or in part (one or two lines of it), over myself and over others, almost without ceasing.    Here is the prayer in it’s entirety:

Lord, I thank you for _____________
I thank You for saving him. Thank you for what You have done and are doing in his life

Make __________ to know Jesus (more)
Help him to increase in knowledge of God. Destroy speculation and every lofty thing raised
up against the knowledge of God, and help him to gbring every thought captive to the
obedience of Christ

Make __________ poor in spirit
Bring him down Lord; but please do it gently. Help him to see his neediness. Help him to
see himself in light of You. Put him in his rightful place Lord.

Fill ____________with Your Holy Spirit
Immerse him in Your Spirit Lord. Come to him in power and in might. Baptize him in fire Lord.

Life ___________
Life him according to Thy loving-kindness. Pour out Your life giving mercies into his soul.

Bless __________ Lord, bless him in everything he touches
Bless him spiritually, physically, and financially. Bless his loved ones.
Do for him Lord, instead of me

Mercy __________
Flood him with need-filling mercies. Pour them out in super abundance.
Find and meet every need in his life as You see it Lord.

 

I encourage you to print it off and memorize all or at least part of it.    I pray this prayer when I don’t know what else to pray (if you ask me to pray for an unspoken request, or for someone you name).   I also pray it when I feel wronged or offended or hurt.  I pray it over others instead of (on my good days!)  thinking evil about them (Matt. 9:4).

I admit that it does not come easy at first.    As I told my congregation on Sunday, you have permission to pray mercy over somebody through gritted teeth!   The battle for our heart is not one that is so easily won without some perseverance, where we learn to wage war against our flesh.    I have prayed “Lord, bless him or her” or “Lord, have mercy on him or her” hundreds of times in a row until my feelings began to line up with my faith.     I have been in the grips of temptation before and prayed this mercy prayer till I was exhausted, but the joy that comes from hearing “well done, my good and faithful servant” at the end of a long fight is well worth it.

How will you respond the next time you are offended or wronged by someone?    How will you respond to your spouse, your boss, your children, your fellow church members, your neighbor, your enemy?   Will it be with judgment or mercy?      Don’t forget….

Mercy Wins.

 

 

 

 

The Mercy Prayer

I have touched on this prayer before in a post about putting on Christ but felt it deserved some attention of it’s own (I would recommend checking out the series that link will take you to if you are struggling with self-gratification).    The Mercy Prayer is a prayer I learned while at Pure Life, developed and taught by Rex Andrews.   This prayer, I believe, was one of the biggest contributing factors to the freedom I have experienced.   Why?  Because it helps to transform one’s mind from one of being consumed with self to one that is consumed with the thoughts of God – and God’s thoughts towards others are driven by mercy (see Hosea 6:6 and Matt. 9:13).   God’s will for you and I is mercy.

What is mercy?  Rex Andrews defines it as the following:

MERCY is God’s supply system for every need everywhere. Mercy is that kindness, compassion and tenderness, which is a passion to suffer with, or participate in, another’s ills or evils in order to relieve, heal and restore.  It accepts another freely and gladly as he is and supplies the needed good of life to build up and to bring to peace and keep in peace. It is to take another into one’s heart just as he is and cherish and nourish him there. Mercy takes another’s sins and evils and faults as its own, and frees the other by bearing them to God. This is the Glow-of-love. This is the anointing.

You can see by this definition why Jesus is God’s grand display of Mercy.   He took upon himself our sins as his own and bore them to God.

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This is why praying the following mercy prayer is so important.  It nurtures within our minds – long corrupted from habitual sin, pride, and pleasing ourselves – the mind of Christ, who, though in “the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant…”(Phil. 2:5-8).     When we pray the prayer of mercy we are “renewing our minds” (Rom. 12:1-2) to be like that of Christ, and laying our flesh aside in favor of the life of the Spirit.

When I am stressed, angry, when my will is being crossed, when I don’t know how to pray for someone who comes to mind, when temptation arises, or when I have free time and don’t know what to do with myself, I pray this prayer.    When you ask me to pray for you, this is what I am most likely praying.  I’ve taught it to my church, and they are praying it, too.   It is a way, I have discovered, to follow Paul’s command to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).    Learn this prayer and pray it. It will change your life!     But first….a warning…..

YOU WILL NOT WANT TO PRAY IT! 

When beginning with this, your flesh will resist it with force.   The first person that crosses your will, the first time your spouse does something that irks you to no end, the first time your co-worker gossips about you, you will want to do anything but pray mercy over them.    When this happens, don’t quit, but rather, give glory to God!   For His word is true!  Your flesh naturally wars against the things of the spirit (Gal. 5:17).   Give thanks to God for knowing you so perfectly, yet loving you so abundantly.   Remember that you are in a battle, a spiritual battle (Eph. .6:12), and the following prayer is one of your greatest weapons to defeat the enemy.

Pray this prayer.  Pray it often.   And watch how God rewards your perseverance, and blesses the prayers of a righteous person who prays in alignment with His will!

Mercy Prayer

1) Lord, I thank You for_________.

I thank You for saving him. Thank you for what You have done and are doing in his life.

2) Make__________ to know Jesus (more). Help him to increase in the knowledge of God. Destroy speculation and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and help him to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

3) Make__________ poor in spirit. Bring him down Lord, but please do it gently. Help him to see his neediness. Help him to see himself in light of You. Put him in his rightful place Lord.

4) Fill ___________ with Your Holy Spirit. Immerse him in Your Spirit Lord. Come to him in power and in might. Baptize him in fire Lord.

5) Life___________.

Life him according to Thy loving-kindness. Pour out Your life giving mercies into his soul.

6) Bless__________. Lord, bless him in everything he touches. Bless him spiritually, physically, and financially. Bless his loved ones. Do for him Lord, instead of me.

7) Mercy__________.

Flood him with need-filling mercies. Pour them out in super abundance. Find and meet every need in his life as You see it Lord.