Lord, have mercy

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I was blessed to hear Jan Johnson, Christian inspirational author and speaker, at the Chattanooga Praise Breakfast. Jan lit up the room as she shared with contagious enthusiasm what it’s like to daily enjoy the presence of God. She shared that the key to getting rid of our stubborn habits and character flaws is “to build an interactive life with God.” From her books, Enjoying the Presence of God and Savoring God’s Word, Jan shared ways to experience Divine companionship through what she called “hanging out with God.” She encouraged us to make our conversations with God part of the rhythm of our lives. She described breath prayers, prayer reminders, and self-talk as ways to become more intimate with God.

1. Breath Prayers
Breath prayers are those sayings, verses, or sentence prayers of just a few syllables that have great meaning to us. These are short prayers that we breathe throughout the day to fit whatever circumstance we encounter. One of her favorites is “Into thy hands.” For example, when you are afraid of an upcoming surgery, pray “Into thy hands.” When you don’t want a family member to suffer, pray, “Into thy hands.” When faced with an unpleasant co-worker, pray “Show me this person’s heart.” In doing daily chores, pray “This task is for you, Lord.”

These are not “Vain repetitions” that Jesus warned about in Matthew 6:7. Breath prayers are the groanings of the heart. Breath prayers don’t replace our time of prayer and devotion, but they are quick ways to keep connected to our Heavenly Father through the day. Other prayers -
“Turn her/his heart toward you”
“Turn my heart toward her/him”
“Bless ___________through me”
An old southern favorite I’ve prayed for years, “Lord, have mercy,” could work in just about any situation!

2. Prayer Reminders
Jan suggests using visual prayer reminders as triggers for prayers. For example, looking at photos displayed at home or work remind us to pray for family and friends. The sound of a siren is a reminder to pray for the crisis at hand. Other prayer reminders might include:
A stone in a pocket
Wearing a cross
Scripture verse taped to the wall
The scent of a candle
The chiming of the hour

3. Self-talk to prayer talk
Instead of filling our minds with negative self-talk, we can replace those thoughts with prayers. Our minds are often filled with petty criticisms, such as, “Doesn’t she know that hairstyle went out in the ‘60s?” or “Can’t he ever get anywhere on time?” Our goal is to replace harping and complaining with prayer and praise for others. The negative thought, “Will this sermon ever end?” becomes “Touch these lives.”

As we become more intimate with God and aware of His presence, our “holy” responses to daily challenges will become more automatic. God wants us to be so close to him that our responses are his responses. That’s why “hanging out with God is so important! This week when I’m tempted to criticize the lady with a cartload of groceries in the 10 items or less checkout line, I’ll breathe a prayer for her. I’ll probably start with, “Lord, have mercy,” but I’ll get there!
Please write a "Breath Prayer" in the comment section. Click on the title, "Lord, have mercy," and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Jan Johnson's books can be ordered at www.janjohnson.org.


JoyeB said...

Especially enjoyed your thoughts for this week!
Breath Prayers I use pretty often are: "Give me your eyes." and "Thy will be done."
Thanks for sharing!

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