Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
But you, O Lord—how long?
Psalm 6:2-3

Purpose of Lament:

To take my complaints, anger, sufferings, frustrations and heartaches to God, and in so doing, rediscover a loving Father, Abba, who deeply cares and can be fully trusted.

“To fully grieve is to allow your losses to tear apart feelings of false security and safety and lead you to the painful truth of your brokenness and dependence upon God alone.” – Henri Nouwen

“Lament is a persistent cry for salvation to the God who promises to save, a prayer that in a situation of suffering or sin, is lifted, in the confident hope that God hears and responds to cries and acts now and in the future to make whole. Lament calls upon God to be true to God’s own character and to keep God’s own promises with respect to humanity.” – Rebekah Eklund

“The practice of lament is one of the most theologically informed actions a person can take… Lament talks to God about pain. And it has a unique purpose: trust. It is a divinely-given invitation to pour out our fears, frustrations, and sorrows for the purpose of helping us to renew our confidence in God… Lament is the language for living between the poles of a hard life and trusting in God’s sovereignty. It is a prayer form for people who are waiting for the day Jesus will return and make everything right.” – Mark Vroegop

“Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment, a distrust in the love-beat of the Father’s heart.” – Ann Voskamp

Practicing Lament

Pray aloud a Psalm of Lament:
 Individual: 3-5, 10, 13, 17, 22, 25, 28, 31, 39, 42, 43, 52-57, 59, 61, 64, 70, 77, 86, 142
 Communal: 12, 44, 58, 60, 74, 79, 80, 85, 90, 94

Allow these prayers to become your own. Use them to channel your own frustrations, disappointments, and sorrows into a posture of self-abandonment to God.

Steps of Lament:

1. Turn to God: Lament talks to God even if it’s messy.

2. Complaint: Biblical complaint vocalizes circumstances that do not seem to fit with God’s character or purposes. When it seems injustice rules, lament invites us to talk to God.

3. Ask: Asking in lament seeks more than relief; it yearns for the deliverance that fits with God’s character. Repeated requests become hopeful reminders of what God can do. Asking boldly serves to strengthen our resolve to not give up, and encourages us to embrace the destination of all lament: a renewal of trust.

4. Trust: Laments help us through suffering by directing our hearts to make the choice to trust in God’s purposes hidden behind the pain. They lead us through the sorrow towards trust and praise.

Write your own Prayer of Lament:

1. Address God: Name his attributes, his relation to you (Father, Abba, Savior, etc) and recall his promises or past deeds on your behalf.

2. Complaint: Write out a heartfelt complaint that describes the suffering you are seeing or experiencing in honest and vivid terms.

3. Confession: Confess your trust in God even if you don’t feel it.

4. Pray for Deliverance: Plead the merits of Christ, appeal to his honor, cry out for deliverance and ask God to intervene.

5. Thanksgiving: Express to God your thankfulness that he hears you.

Steps forward in Lament (by Frederick Schmidt):

1. Prayers of lament register our awareness of the disparity between our life’s circumstances and God’s will. Lament sharpens our moral and spiritual senses, alerting us to the distance between our circumstances and God’s loving will for us.

2. Lament prompts us to explore the nature of the loss experienced. A place where the full weight of the loss can be felt.

3. Prayers of lament create an opportunity for us to identify with the loss of others, or appeal for companionship in our own loss. Healing work of the body of Christ which becomes a source of refuge and strength in the middle of it.

4. They can mobilize us. The logic of Prayers of Lament prompts us to consider the will of God, which provides a way forward if we are prepared to listen for what we learn there.

Subscribe to the Daily Fill