Teach Us to Lament
Last Sunday, we prayed a corporate prayer of lament. Below is slightly edited transcript of that prayer, as a model for how to lament biblically (or scroll down to the bottom for the video clip from Sunday's service)
"These days we are teary eyed and hold an ache in our hearts.
Today, we come dressed up, and maybe you’re tempted to simply put on a happy face. And, we ought to have glad hearts because of the hope we have in the gospel. But, we also come with grief, because of the havoc that sin wreaks on our world. We know this is the reason for such brokenness in our world; we know that sin is the issue, not society at large. We know that rebellion against the Creator is the primary problem; not mental health or more money. We know that what people need is the gospel, and we grieve that we often lack the courage to proclaim it openly. For all of this sin - the sins of others and our own - we are grieved.
But, what are we to do with such grief? What are we to do as we are in the thick of brokenness, as things are only getting worse in the world? We lament. Lament is the prayer in pain where we turn to God in trust. That’s what the Psalmists do. They help us know how to express our sadness to God. The language of “lament” is modeled for us in places like Psalm 13, 35, 42, 43, 79, 89.
Lament is a form of prayer, in which our pain and our complaints are turned to prayer toward God. It is a divine pressure valve where we pour out our hearts to God for the times He seems far off; when it seems evil is running rampant; when we can’t wait for God to crush his enemies and make things right for good (Rom. 16:20).
In many churches prayers of confession or lament would be unthinkable because they don’t fit the positive-thinking feel good christian culture that is so popular. But, God’s people ought to be so thankful and helped by these songs of sorrow because they give us raw yet sanctified language to express the deep anguish we feel as we wait for the King; where we say “make haste”... deliver this world and his people from sin and suffering.
Join me in prayer, as we bring our sorrows to the Lord.
O LORD, we’ve cried with friends and family, and for our nation; for the tragic loss of lives of war in Ukraine, and Congo; for disease and death in our families (Janice Rucker’s father went to be with the Lord, just this weekend), we’ve cried for the unborn children who perish daily in our land, and this week we weep for lives forever impacted by the unthinkable violence in Uvalde Texas, and the grief those families are experiencing. How Long, O LORD, must we lament shootings at schools? How many more little lives will be lost, and how long until you rescue us from the hands of evil men? It seems at times that you have hidden your face from us (Ps. 13:1), as we wrestle with our painful thoughts, each day (Ps. 13:2). How long will the Enemy devastate this world (Ps. 13:2)?
Our souls are wearied, our cheeks, our pillows are soaked with tears (Ps. 6:6), as think of bewildered teachers, and panicked parents waiting for their children to come back to them - but for 19 families, mothers & fathers, brothers and sisters -but they will not. How long, O LORD? We groan over the sin and rage that led this boy to do such violence. We lament what the sin sick soul of man is capable of. As if the grief over our own sin is not enough, we confess that we don’t understand. Questions fill our hearts: Why did this have to happen? How could you allow it? Where are you in the midst of it? Where shall we turn?
We trust in you. We turn to you and ask for help. We have, and will trust in your steadfast love - for you are a God of salvation (Ps. 13:5). You alone are able to save; you are a saving God. May we, and many more - in these dark days - trust in You.
And so, we cry in our pain:
- Would you bring comfort to students, teachers and parents traumatized by this shooting?
- Would you give wisdom to counselors, pastors, and friends as they care for those who are hurting?
- Would you help our children know they are loved and allow that love to be demonstrated in kindness, compassion, and affirmation every day?
- Would you bring peace to the hearts of troubled children who feel isolated, lonely, and desperate?
- Would you provide healing to the students and teachers left reeling from this horror?
- Would you bring repentance and salvation to those who do not trust in Christ? You are a God of salvation (Ps. 13:5)
- Would you give wisdom to those in authority to know what justice and protection should look like?
- Would you turn the hearts of children toward your son, Jesus, so that they could find their meaning in him?
- Would you give the city of Uvalde a resolve to be united in the care and love for our children?
We live in evil days (Eph. 5:16): bring these evil days to an end, and the wicked to ruin (Psalm 146:9). Come Lord Jesus. Come!"