67) A Prayer for Mercy

From the novel Jubilee (1966), by Margaret W. Alexander (1915-98); (Quoted in Conversations With God: Two Centuries of African-American Prayers, ed. by James M. Washington, pp. 213, HarperCollins).

     Before she realized where she was going she found herself deep in the woods… where there was a chapel-hush.  She heard birds softly and sweetly singing, but most of all she felt the silence of the thickly soft carpet of pine needles under her feet, and looking up she could faintly see the blue sky in thin scraps of light through the interlacing of tender young leaves and green pine needles.  She found herself a rock, and instead of sitting down she dropped to her knees.  Instinctively she began to pray, the words forming on her lips at first in a halting, faltering, and half-hesitant fashion, and then rushing out:

     “Lawd, God-a-mighty, I come down here this morning to tell you I done reached the end of my rope, and I wants you to take a-hold.  I done come to the bottom of the well, Lord, and my well full of water done run clean dry.

     “I come down here, Lord, cause I ain’t got no where else to go.  I come down here knowing I ain’t got no right, but I got a heavy need.  I’m suffering so, Lord, my body is heavy like I’m carrying a stone.  I come to ask you to move the stone, Jesus.  Please move the stone!  I come down here, Lord, to ask you to come by here, Lord.  Please come by here!

     “We can’t go on like this no longer, Lord.  We can’t keep on a-fighting, and a-fussing, and a-cussing, and a-hating like this, Lord.  You done been too good to us.  We done wrong, Lord, I knows we done wrong.  I ain’t gonna say we ain’t done wrong, and I ain’t gonna promise we might not do wrong again cause, Lord, we ain’t nothing but sinful human flesh, we ain’t nothing but dust.  We is evil peoples in a wicked world, but I’m asking you to let your forgiving love cover our sin, Lord.

      “Let your peace come in our hearts again, Lord, and we’s gonna try to stay on our knees and follow the road You is laid before us, if You only will.  Come by here, Lord, come by here, if you please.  And Lord, I wants to thank You, Jesus, for moving the stone!”


Isaiah 55:6-7  —  Seek the Lord while he may be found;  call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake their ways  and the unrighteous their thoughts.  Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Psalm 41:4  —  I said, “Have mercy on me, Lord; heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

Psalm 6:2-4…6  —  Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.  My soul is in deep anguish.  How long, Lord, how long?  Turn, Lord, and deliver me;  save me because of your unfailing love…  I am worn out from my groaning.

Matthew 20:29-31  —  As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him.  Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”  The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”

Luke 18:9-14  —  To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:   “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed:  ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’  “But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’  “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.  For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”


THE JESUS PRAYER (an ancient prayer, widely used, especially in the Eastern Orthodox Church:  

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a poor sinner.