A Prayer for a Heart That Needs to Lament
In this time of agony and strife, when our hearts feel torn between fear and trust, Scripture provides us with a model of honestly approaching God in prayer.
Over the past several days, weeks, and months, human hearts have cried out in hurt, frustration, anger, and despair. Feelings of isolation, depression, mistrust, fear, and confusion have overwhelmed the world. As pandemic and violence swept across the earth, we sometimes wonder how, or even if, God will respond. A sense of helplessness pervades. In this time of agony and strife, when our hearts feel torn between fear and trust, Scripture provides us with a model of honestly approaching God in prayer.
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The Prayer of Lament
Throughout Scripture, biblical heroes have used prayers of lament to vocalize their suffering to the Lord. Dictionary.com defines a lament as an expression of grief or sorrow. King David, the prophets Jeremiah and Habakkuk, and even Jesus all went to God with their laments.
Through this use of prayer, a person invokes the Lord to hear their cry and listen to their plea. They utilize the prayer as a form of worship to call upon the name of the Lord and His character to act upon the situation. Oftentimes in a lament, the person in prayer recalls how God has been faithful in the past in order to draw confidence and hope for how He will respond in the future. The prayer moves from the negative to the positive, from fear to faith.
The purpose of a lament is to move the petitioner to a position of praise, knowing that the Lord will not abandon the faithful. The use of lament is vital to our spiritual life because it allows us to express honesty and vulnerability with God in a faithful way. Through prayer, we are able to engage with God in our suffering rather than turn away from Him. Ann Weems once said, “Our only hope is to march ourselves to the throne of God in loud lament and cry out the pain that lives in our soul.” Perhaps this practice is what the world yearns for now.
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A Prayer for a Heart that Needs to Lament
As we come before you today, our hearts are torn and broken. Our world looks like shattered glass. We are weak and weary of the fight. We are separated and alone. We are numb from covering the pain. We try to be strong because we think that to be vulnerable is wrong.
Break our hearts to You, Oh God. Show us how we have hardened ourselves to Your Word. Teach us where we have trusted in our own endeavors instead of Your Spirit. Break down our pride and show us how to truly love. You are a God of restoration and reconciliation. Through Christ, you broke down the dividing wall of hostility. Help us find new ways to connect with one another. Let Your peace reign over the earth. Calm our hearts so that we may be a soothing balm to the world. You are on Your throne and know all things. In You, we will place our trust and give our praise. Thank you for your faithfulness and your love that never fails. May we continue to declare Jesus’ Name and Shine His light to world.
A Psalm of Lament for COVID-19 and the Protests
How long, O Lord, will our nation suffer?
How long will we be divided?
Day after day calamity strikes,
Death and violence are everywhere.
Because of our condition
Friends and neighbors must stay away
The simplest touch forbidden
Masking the need for love
Brother stands against brother
In the land that is meant to be United.
Our spirits are weak from Isolation.
Our flesh faint from disease.
We are tired, God
Our strength is gone.
Injustice and accusations pervade.
“Open season” has been called out on our country.
All cry out for peace
Yet few look to You.
Violence is the language of the unheard
Let the unheard hear Your call.
But You, O Lord are always with me.
You are the source of my strength.
You are on Your throne.
You have never left my side.
Let all the dissenters acknowledge the Lord.
And all turn to God.
Put out the fire in our souls
Through the Love of Your Son.
Help us see the pain of others
As easily as we see the pain in ourselves
Help us confront our shortcomings
With both humility and hope
Quench the burning in our hearts
With the living water, only You can give
Your Words bring life
In God we trust,
We will not be afraid.
For You are our refuge
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Scriptures of Laments
Habakkuk 1:2-4, 12-17; 3:2-19
A Response to Lament
The goal of lamenting to God is to reveal your heart to God and reassure your confidence in the Lord. It is an exercise in trust and faith. The keys to a prayer of lament are exposing the barrier that separates us from God, invoking the Lord’s help, and professing our praise in His character. When we develop a discipline of lament, we will find that our relationship with God becomes more vulnerable, more passionate, and more confident because we can boldly bare our hearts to Him.
Cortney Whiting is a wife and mom of two preteens. She received her Master of Theology Degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. After serving in the church for nearly 15 years, Cortney currently teaches at a Christian school and writes for various Christian ministries. You can find her at her blog, https://recapturefaith.com.
This article is part of our Prayer resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Visit our most popular prayers if you are wondering how to pray or what to pray. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.