Have you ever been in a situation where there was no way out? Any choice you made would bring pain in your life or in someone else’s life. I was a no-win situation, but that’s where I found myself, and it was terrifying.
The choices before me were to end my marriage, or to dig in and fight for it. While I’m a fighter by nature, I didn’t know if I could manage this fight. I tried to pray, I tried to ask for wisdom, but I could barely find the words.
That’s when God put four words on my heart. These words became the simplest, but hardest, prayer for my marriage.
The prayer was simply this:
Jesus, mercy and grace.
Those four words became the simplest prayer for my marriage.
There was not a lot of fluff; there were no extra words. I’m not even sure what I was praying for when I prayed those words. Our situation needed heaps of mercy and tons of grace. How do you navigate the uncharted waters of a marriage on the brink of divorce?
I’m reminded of Romans 8:26 (NIV):
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
I did not know what to pray, but I fully trusted that the Holy Spirit knew the longings of my heart.
This one prayer was what would go through my mind as I tried to fall asleep. I begged God for His wisdom, His direction, and His plan for my marriage.
Those four words became the hardest prayer for my marriage.
When I prayed those words, I was genuinely asking for grace, but my heart was begging for mercy. You see, my marriage was up against some legal issues. Everything that was happening was completely beyond the limits of anything that I would consider a “tough marriage.” We were faced with life-altering decisions, and I had no idea how to ask God to save our lives, our marriage, our family.
So I prayed, “Jesus, mercy and grace.” When I did not know how we might get through, those were the words I spoke to God. When I did not know what the next day would bring, those are the words I would pray through the night. When the decision about our future was imminent, those are the words I prayed silently, while waiting on justice.
You see, I learned that asking for mercy also implied the knowledge that a punishment, of sorts, was at hand. And it was deserved. The choices made necessitated not just restitution, but punishment as well. I was fully aware of that as I asked God for mercy.
But I had to ask for mercy because the welfare of the people I love the most was at stake.
Do you remember the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18? She kept taking her plea to the judge. I became persistent in this prayer. The purpose of the prayer shifted at some point, from words to pray when I did not know how else to pray, to a sincere prayer asking the Lord specifically for mercy and grace. The widow in Luke 18 was seeking justice from the judge; I was seeking mercy from the Lord.
This was the hardest prayer for my marriage. I had to be willing to accept the Lord’s answer, no matter what it was.
The blessing of mercy and grace
Months after the secrets in our marriage were exposed, mercy was granted! That’s not to say that we got to skip the justice, but the justice that was granted was full of mercy.
My prayer had included mercy and grace, but I was struggling to see the grace. The dictionary defines grace as the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. Yes, there was mercy granted, and each new day was full of grace, but where, specifically, was the grace for me?
When I started writing a few years back, I told God that one of the topics I would never write about was marriage. It’s funny when you think you can tell God what you will or won’t do, isn’t it?
After I began healing from the challenges we had faced, I decided to jump in with both feet and began to write about marriage. As I started to write, I told God that if my story would bless just one person – just one person! – this would all be worth it.
Friends, here comes the grace. God has gone above and beyond my prayer for just one person. I have been able to walk a few women through the toughest times in their marriage. But it’s nothing of my doing; it’s the grace of God that whispers in my ear, saying, “Your story matters, here’s someone who needs it.”
Please believe me when I say that this was never the story I wanted. To this day, I don’t want my story. I own it, it is mine, but God is still working in my heart to use my heartache as a way to help others. At the end of the day, He gets all the glory, because without Him there is no mercy and there is absolutely no grace.
These four simple words are the simplest but hardest prayer I’ve prayed for my marriage. However, through this one small prayer, I have seen God answer in mighty ways!
How is God working through your prayers? Where are you seeing His mercy and grace in your life?