This past Sunday during Time With Young Disciples I talked to them about praying when you are feeling sad, or scared, or overwhelmed. I said all they really needed to say was “Help”. God would (and does) understand. I also said the biblical writers had developed a way to pray in difficult times and it was called a lament psalm. After defining “lament”, I shared the form of a lament psalm – and an example (geared for elementary age). The information is equally valid for people of any age. How do you put in words the things that hurt beyond words. The Psalmist and other poets of scripture have provided help. In response to a positive reaction when I said I could make that prayer form available, I share it now.
We are in a time of overwhelming sorrow at the horror of what has been done in southern Israel and the horror that is happening within the Gaza Strip. It is a time of lament.
It may be there are things going on in your life that feel overwhelming and make you profoundly sad. That is part of life and it is also a time of lament.
Lament: to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively; a crying out in grief
We find Laments in the Bible (one book in the Hebrew Testament is even called Lamentations). It is a way to pray when you feel really sad and overwhelmed and you just don’t know what to say.
Laments can have seven parts:
- Address to God.
- Review of God’s faithfulness in the past.
- The complaint.
- A confession of sin or claim of innocence.
- A request for help.
- God’s response (often not stated).
- A vow to praise, statement of trust in God.
For instance: (Allow some silence between the parts so that you can truly sense the presence of God listening to his beloved child (no matter your age).
- Dear God
- I know you have cared about me and my family in the past
- BUT …. Say what is bothering you
- If you know you did something wrong, own up to it OR say you can’t imagine why this bad thing is happening to you
- Ask for help
- If you get an idea of God’s response, say it; otherwise you might say you believe God hears you
- Say thank you to God for listening and caring about me