The media make us virtual witnesses to the pain and suffering from all over the world. “The pain of the world”, as I started to call that pain, each one of us has to find out how to deal with that. Searching for an answer I did give special attention to those, most of us, who are not able to offer direct and concrete help, and to those whose natures are more contemplative then active. For them, I found: prayer is one of the possible answers.

This is not a surprising answer, one can say. Since praying is the least we can do. Nevertheless, this prayer-answer has to be actualised over and over again. Each generation, each society, has to convince itself of the necessity of establishing its foundation in prayer. In the essay “praying for the world” one can find an attempt to that. See the text before.

Confronted with the question if there is a prayer especially suited for the relief of nowadays extremely increasing pain and suffering, I came, without any effort of my own self, to the prayer: “lord have mercy”. Without my own effort, that means: the prayer itself provided the answer. Everybody with some experience with praying the same prayer repeatedly, knows of the existence of this phenomenon.

Anyhow, “lord have mercy” I consider the most appropriate prayer for the relief of the pain of the world. Since the prayer is in english, since it is concise and intense, the prayer will be understood and can be said by almost everyone. Moreover, the prayer has the power of thousands and thousands of years of repetition. The plea is as old as mankind. Sadly, tribes and nations have been fighting each other since the beginning of history. The defeated pleaded for their lives to be spared.

Although the prayer is at times exclusively associated with the so-called jesusprayer, that makes it no less old, no less universal. On the contrary. The christian jesusprayer can be seen as the metaphorical continuation of the universal one. Metaphorical, since it refers in the first place to our souls. The same do its many versions from all other religions. By repeatedly praying the devotee evokes mercy in his own heart. Progressively. Since his mercy is in – and by praying present. By his prayer the devotee re-consecrates himself as well as the world.

As a reminder: the jesusprayer comes from the well-known moneychanger who, contrary to the self-sufficient pharisee, in the temple looked away and prayed: “god, have mercy on me, sinner” (luke 18:13). As the jesusprayer this became, in full: “lord jesus christ, son of god, have mercy on me”. The history of the prayer in this form is very old. The first ones known to have prayed it as repeated prayer were the so-called desert fathers, the first christian monks from the 3 rd and 4 th century anno domini.

The use of the prayer by christians may have a long history, nevertheless it is incorrect to think the prayer “lord have mercy” is an exclusively christian prayer. On the contrary. As said before, the prayer is much older. Almost every religion has own versions. Far much older ones then the christian one. Moreover since christianity is not claiming any longer to bear the exclusive truth, most of the nowadays christians acknowledge the existence of other lords then jesus only. Recognising the one and only truth behind them.

Because of all of this I don’t have any doubt: “lord have mercy” is the most suitable as well as acceptable prayer to serve as the one and only prayer for the relief of nowadays worldwide pain and suffering. Everybody will understand it and can pray it, all over the world. The lord to whom we address our prayer may be jesus, buddha, allah, krishna, or whichever lord our heart goes out to. Since prayer is not religion-bound but universal, we can choose to keep the lord unnamed. Anonymus. Even letting him out of our prayer. Praying: have mercy!

So, let us pray “lord have mercy”. Unnoticeable silent if not in thought. In the rhythm of our breath. In response to pain and suffering - concrete and general. As continuously as possible.

Because of the universal character of the prayer, it is possible to give this a worldwide impact. As nowadays the world is as a little village, where everyone determines one another’s well-being, the world passionately needs one collective prayer. That prayer, that worldprayer, is “lord have mercy”. Whether addressing the lord of one’s heart or leaving him unnamed – always does it express we acknowledge the reality of another one’s pain. And that our heart was touched. Pleading that anyone in pain may experience relief, may receive help, may meet with compassion. Will be blessed with purification. Whoever, wherever, at wherever time. May it be now, in the future or in the past. Praying is beyond time and place.

Let us also pray “lord have mercy” for the countless many aid workers, for those hero’s who offer direct concrete help. As signs of hope they deserve our solidarity and support. They do need that.

Of course we pray “lord have mercy” for ourselves too. This is not selfish. As an antidote to hubris, to hidden selfcontentment, it prevents us from using the pain of others for ignoring own pain and fears. Moreover, praying for ourselves, we soon arrive at praying for others. Own pain and fears then transform into sources of compassion for the pain of others. There is no difference between praying for ourselves and praying for others. As there is no difference between others and ourselves.


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