Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
Have mercy on us o Lord, have mercy on us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Psalm 123:3
Good morning Prayer Team!
Lord have mercy.
The ending of prayer is the word “Amen,” which means “may it be so.” “Petitions” are part of an extended “prayer.” So in our services, there will often be “sets” of petitions. The Divine Liturgy begins with a “set” of petitions called “the Great Litany.” It consists of several petitions, and ends with a prayer to the Holy Trinity. The response to the end of the “set” is “Amen,” but the response to each of the petitions is “Lord have mercy.”
“Mercy” refers to offering something that one doesn’t deserve. For instance, how many times in movies have we seen a king or a ruler spare someone’s life as an act of mercy. When you think about the sinful state of humanity, or when I think of even my own sinful state, I think “what business do I have to be asking ANYTHING of God,” and what motivation does He have to grant whatever I am so unworthily asking of Him? The answer is “mercy.”
In Psalm 103:8, we read that “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” So, we ask the Lord to have mercy and to grant the petitions which we are bringing before Him. In this first sequence “In peace let us pray to the Lord,” and the response “Lord have mercy,” I sometimes think the following: I am a sinful person, and this past week I have taken peace from many people, yet I come to You Lord asking for peace. I don’t deserve peace. But have mercy on me and bring me peace anyway.” The same goes for the other petitions—how can we dare ask the Almighty God for anything? Because we know that He is full of mercy and that He answers prayer. So, the priest offers the prayer for peace, and we answer, “Lord have mercy” on us and bring us peace.
One comforting thought on mercy comes from one of the prayers of the Sacrament of Holy Unction, “for as great is Your majesty, so is Your mercy.” If God’s majesty is infinite, then so also is His mercy! How comforting is that!
Lord, have mercy on my many shortcomings. Forgive my sins. Help me to be a better person, help me to be more faithful. Have mercy on me when I fall short in my life. Help me to show mercy to others as well. And help them to show mercy on me. Amen.
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