How to Pray the Psalms for Comfort during Grief
Have you ever been in a group of friends discussing a topic and a question is raised to which no one knows the answer and someone says, “Ask Siri” or “Let’s Google it?” Children growing up today have probably never touched an encyclopedia, turning instead to the Internet as their main resource for knowledge. Interestingly, people search the Internet for more than just answers to mere facts. According to Google, they even search the Internet for answers to the meaning of life and the meaning of love.
We all have questions about the hard things of life. We all want to know “Why?” and “What’s next?” and “How long will this last?” But as believers, we don’t need to search the Internet for the difficult questions of life that plague us. Instead, God’s Word shows us that we need to bring our questions to the throne of grace.
The Psalms and Hard Questions
The book of Psalms contains poems that were used in the Israelite’s worship. There were many different types of Psalms, some were sung in thanksgiving for something God had done. Others were sung to remember things from the past. Some Psalms were sung in praise to God for who he is. And then there were the Laments, the darkest of all the Psalms. These songs were sung to express the sorrows and fears of life in this fallen world.
The Psalms of Lament are filled with questions. These are not the silly questions we might ask Siri or the how-to questions we might enter in a search engine, but they are the questions of a broken heart. They are the questions of one who is weighed down by the sorrows of this world, by the fears, griefs, and heartaches that we all experience.
“O God, why do you cast us oﬀ forever? Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?” (Psalm 74:1).
“How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” (Psalm 13:2).
“For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 43:2).
“Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?” (Psalm 44:24).
Learning from the Laments
The Psalms of Lament teach us that we need to come to God with our questions. We need to ask him all those things that weigh down our hearts. When will we get married? How long until we get the job we’ve worked so hard to get? Why did our friend reject us? When will we be cured of this disease? Will we always be childless? Why is our ministry still struggling? God cares about the sorrows of our heart and wants us to come and cry out to him. “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17).
The Laments also remind us that God alone is our savior and refuge. We come to him with our questions and the cries of our heart because he is God and there is no other. We come to him because he rules and reigns over all things. He alone has power to rescue, redeem, and restore. We are his children and he is our Father. He loves us with a perfect love and knows all that we need. “Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!” (Psalm 31:2).
On this side of the cross, we know that Jesus fulfilled the Psalms, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Jesus is the answer to every heart’s cry. He came to rescue and redeem us from our greatest fear and our deepest sorrow—eternal death and separation from God because of our sin. By his perfect life and sacrificial death, he made a way for us to come into God’s presence wrapped in his righteousness. Because of Christ, we can “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
The Psalms of Lament are cherished poems that resonate with all believers’ hearts. We should read them, study them, and claim them as our own, crying out to our Father with all the hard questions on our heart, knowing that our heart’s cries were answered when our Savior cried a lament of his own, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34).
Want to learn more about the Psalms of Lament? My new book, A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope Through the Psalms of Lament is a primer on the art of lament.
For more articles on overcoming grief, check out:
A Prayer for When You’re Hurting: 10 Verses of Comfort for Tough Times
10 Bible Verses for Overcoming Grief
A Prayer for the Grieving Heart
Christina Fox received her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She writes for a number of Christian ministries and publications including Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. She is the author of A Heart Set Free: A Journey Through the Psalms of Lament (Christian Focus, 2016). You can find her at www.christinafox.com, @christinarfox and