We have previously noted that the “Lord, have mercy” is essentially a beggar’s cry for mercy and help of any kind. It is not only a prayer for forgiveness, but a prayer covering any conceivable need. Nor is it prayed only for ourselves, but for the whole world.
This wider scope of the “Lord, have mercy” becomes apparent in “The Service – Alternative Form”. There the “Lord, have mercy” accompanies a number of specific requests: for our peace and salvation, for the world, for the church, and for those presently worshipping. They
anticipate the fuller Prayer of the Church later in the service. A dominant thought in these petitions is the request for peace.
- The first petition reads: “In peace let us pray to the Lord”, reminding us that before we engage in our public service of prayer for the world, we first must be at peace amongst ourselves (1 Tim 2:8; Mt 5:23-24).
- The petition “for the peace from above” shows us that the peace we seek is first and foremost a gift of God: it is the peace proclaimed by the angels at Jesus’ birth (Lk 2:14); it is the peace the risen Jesus breathed on his apostles enabling them to forgive sins in his name (Jn 20:19-21); ultimately this peace from above stems from our being justified through faith in Christ (Rom 5:1).
- And in keeping with our role as the priesthood of believers, we bring the needs of the whole world to God when we pray “for the peace of the whole world, for the wellbeing of the church of God, and for the unity of all”. In this we always remember Jesus’ words in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. How the world needs this peace! Lord, have mercy!
Question: What situation will you bring to the “Lord, have mercy”?
A series of studies on the Liturgy – Linards Jansons