Lament

Lament is the heartfelt expression of grief, frustration, anger, fear, or complaint through prayer. Instead of just crying when life hits you hard, try "crying out" in a lament. This kind of prayer reaches toward God during your greatest trials and trusts him (by praising His character), even though life stinks. You must believe that God will work all things for good in your life, even the crummy things.

Jn. 16:33 “In this life you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”




Confession, Lamentation, and Intercession over the value of human life



Dear Father Creator,

How grieved you must be over the callous attitude your creation has toward life!
I know you're not surprised because this has been reality since the beginning of time--
since Cain murdered his brother.

And parents have murdered children,
children have murdered parents,
people have waged war
and claimed to do it in your name and for your honor.

How we misrepresent you and your love for the whole world!
For each individual person,
no matter how helpless,
how disfigured,
how evil,
and how innocent.

They belong to you.
We are only custodians of your creation.
Of turtles, whales, eagles, leopards, water, earth, energy--
but especially of human life.

How can culture get this so mixed up?

I pray for your grace, patience, and conviction.
I ask for your forgiveness on behalf of those who kill innocent lives
and discount the lives of the elderly and handicapped.
I pray for your Spirit to permeate our world
and bring reason and value to every human life.
Especially our churches.

Make us a people of love, grace, and urgency.
Keep us from judgment, hate, and retribution.
Lord, I'm so embarrassed and grieved at the way Christians treat the world
because they don't believe in you or value your commands.
Of course they don't!
They are blind.

Give sight to the blind and freedom to the captive, both in mind, spirit, and body.
Use our legislature and our churches.
Change our parents and our families.

We are the light.
Help us shine brightly in a dark world!

In Jesus' name,
Amen.



A prayer about a crappy day (and a crappy attitude)


Lord,

Help me.
I'm going through a crappy time,
and I don't want to hear anyone saying
trite little comments to me about how thankful I should be or how things will get better.
I know that.
I just don't feel that.
I've decided I'm having a pity-party.
This feels right, at the moment.
But of course, then I feel worse.
It's all selfishness.
I know that.

God, I don't know how you're going to change my heart.
This is a big ask, and a bigger commitment to repent on my part.
I need you.
I need my faith in you to grow.
I really do need someone to knock some sense into me.
Except they really should do it from a distance
because I'm likely to take a swing back.

Hmm.
Maybe I just need to find a punching bag.

Punch me.
I'll go open the Bible.
I'm sure something there will reach out and knock me upside the head.
So in advance of that happening,
thank you.

I do love you.
Please bear with me a little longer.
Amen.

1 Timothy 6:11-12--"But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness,faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."


Prayer to fill the grieving spaces


This morning I had one of those mothering moments when you ask your child to trust your "no"
because you are building character into him so he can become the man God wants him to be.

Then I say that someday, he'll realize how much it mattered to have a mom who cared about these things.

Then I think about my mom and how I never realized the extent of her wisdom and love until I became a mother.

And how much I wish I could tell her that again right now. How I wish I could tell her anything at all, and how completely devastating it is to know I won't speak to her again in my lifetime. The realization returns, almost like the first time it hit me.

And I have cried off and on all day ever since. Grief sucks like that.

How can there still be so many unseen empty spaces that hold grief?

God,

Would you just fill them, please?
Would you just pour yourself into the holes of longing and loss
and smother the grief with joy and contentment.

Will you hear this lament, 
and will you come and hold me?
You promised to be enough for me.
You are enough. I know that.

But it doesn't feel like that today.
Today, everything seems wrong. 
Even all the things that don't belong to mothering.
But especially those things.

Today, I don't want to be me, the mother.
I want to be me, the daughter, again,
and that's not possible.
I know I'm your daughter.
Will you please help that feel real enough?
Can you make it enough for me?

I know you understand this.
I can't imagine the grief you've had--
and must still have--
every moment when your children (like me) make hurtful decisions
and when they don't talk to you
and don't listen to you.

Why you chose to present yourself as a parent,
I can only guess--
it's the one human experience that is both exhilarating and fulfilling
and yet so devastating with every wrong turn your kids make
and every fear you have that they might do so.

You're not afraid of anything.
You have perfect love, 
and that casts out fear.
Fill me with that love. 
I don't want to fear anymore.
I don't want to fear the void that grief leaves.
I'm tired of the loneliness.

Is that even possible?
To love someone and still be healed after they're gone?

As much as possible,
I am pouring out myself to you 
and giving you permission--
I'm begging you--
fill me with yourself 
and your Spirit.
Fill me with love for you.
Maybe that will take the hurt away, at least a little.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.


*More blogs about grief here. You can also type "Grief" or "Mother" into the search box on my home page. There's a lot to choose from. Also check out the many sources about grief on my Pinterest.



Prayer for a miscarriage


Experts guess that between 10-25% of pregnancies end in miscarriages, for various reasons. To a
woman who knows she's pregnant--who knows there's a baby forming in her womb--it doesn't matter why the pregnancy fails. She just knows that one day she was a mother, and the next day, she was not.

She feels grief. For all those excited and anticipating the birth of a baby, a miscarriage is a death.

If this is you, here is a prayer to help you grieve and hope:

Dear Abba Father,

You have created all things.
Your work is perfect.
You created me for a purpose, and you created this little life for a purpose,
although it doesn't make sense to me now why a helpless baby's life should be cut short so quickly.

I am so terribly sad--
I feel such a sense of emptiness and loss.
To be honest, I feel robbed.

This is confusing, because I know you aren't a robber.
You have come to give life and give it more abundant.
So why did you bless me, only to remove the blessing?
This pain makes me doubt your love and your will.

I want to trust your plan for me completely.
I must look back on my history with you
and your history with mankind to find the faith I need right now.
You are only love and grace and mercy.
You give and take away from a place of love and protection.
You understand my pain because you've lived it.

Keep my baby safe and secure.
I hope to see him or her one day when I enter your presence.
Thank you for that.

And please make me a mother again, in your timing and for your glory.

I will trust you, even in loss.
You are good,
and you only do good.
I love you.

Amen.

"I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul." Psalm 31:7


A prayer for the lonely parent during the school year


Dear Father,

You know how much it aches to be away from your children
because you long for us.
You want to talk to us all day
and walk with us and eat with us.

So you get how this feels to be separated from your child--
regardless of how big he (or she) is--
for an entire school year,
especially for a college school year.

Wow, this hurts.
Such a deep, fearful ache.

Help me to bear it by trusting my child with you--
he is in your care,
and you can do a better job than I can.

Give me a new focus here at home,
another calling to help someone else
and the courage to operate in a new role with my student.

Give me wisdom about how much to text
when to call,
and how much to help.
And when to stop myself.
Give me the courage to give him space
and let him  fail.
Give me grace to help him fail without
life-altering consequences--
if that's possible--
and even more grace to forgive and love
when he's make a wreck of everything.

Help me to celebrate successes of the soul,
to encourage character,
to praise personality,
and to limit encouragement surrounding accomplishments.
Help me to value my child for the way you created him to be,
and not for the successes he is able to achieve by the world's standards.

He is precious to you,
and precious to me
for who he is.
And you have loaned him to me
to encourage him into becoming a godly adult
who loves you, serves you, and is a blessing to everyone around him.

Quench my loneliness and replace it with joy.
You have blessed me beyond all measure.

Amen.


A prayer when you're tired

Lord,

I'm tired, and it's early.
I'm not sure if it's the Holy Spirit,
common sense,
or my mother's voice inside my head,
but I'm hearing "Get more sleep."

Another voice says "Take a nap,"
but that might be my college self crying out from the past.

I'm wondering if you could sprinkle me with a little holy adrenaline?
I just drank some caffeine
and took my vitamins.
I would go for a quick walk, but I've just eaten.
I'll take my shower now.

But all of that will wear off,
and the tiredness will return.

You know how I feel?
Of course you do.
You even napped in a boat--during a storm!--
which I could never do because I have motion-sickness.

Okay, I'll try to go to bed early.
Thanks for the conversation.

Amen.


Praying comfort over grief


Dear God of all comfort,

You get grief. It sucks, doesn't it?

Grief interrupts the joy of living and suffocates you. It's like dying but knowing you will eventually come up for air, and you will not pass out. You will live through it.


You get it. You felt grief in the sharpest way possible. You were betrayed and rejected by the object of your love and sacrifice. And then you were rejected by your Father. You bore the weight of the sins of the whole world--the horrific acts of violence, cruelty, and debauchery. You felt them and You wore them as You died.

And because You know what grief is, You are the only true comforter.

So comfort us. Spread Your peace like a quilt over the shoulders of those who grieve parents, children, and the lives they hoped to live. Give each of us hope and confidence that You have a plan for us--You will prosper and keep us in Your perfect will.

Grief is just a part of Your will. It's just not the part we wanted to experience. To understand that, give us faith. Give us a community of encouragers. Turn our gaze upward to You.

That's what grief does. Its shoves us to the surface, gasping for air, where we see You.

Ahh! You are what we needed all along.

Thank you, Jesus. Give me Your peace.

Amen.

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. . . Surely, he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows." (Isaiah 53:3-4)



What to pray when you're angry

Lord,

Set a watch over my mouth.
Help me not to sin when I'm angry.
I mean, right now.
Clamp me down.
You can take care of this problem
if I just wait and listen
and behave like Jesus would.

(Wow, this is going to be hard.)
Once again, help me!

Amen.

“'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." (Eph. 4:26)





How to pray a prayer of anguish

Have you ever felt emotionally raw and desperate? Angry, even? My first response in these situations is to rage at God, to make a pitiful plea for help (if no one else is around, that is) The question, then, is how to pray a prayer of anguish?

Grief, when directed at God, is a prayer. It's a lamentation that expects a response. Anguish can prompt the most beautiful and heart-felt prayers we ever pray.

Maybe you're not sure what to say. That's okay, too. The Holy Spirit hears the groaning of our hearts and responds to us with grace and love (Romans 8:26-27).

I go directly to Psalms when I need to groan. I start at Psalm 3, and I just keep going until I've said enough. I've underlined a lot of verses about anguish and fairness and deliverance in those pages, so I pray those verses back to God. Somehow, reading the Psalms give power to my prayer and assuage any guilt I'd have for expressing my pain and misery.

Praying God's words back to him keeps my prayer a lament instead of a complaint. Fortunately, most of David's Psalms end with the correct theology that God is good, and He will do good on my behalf. In context, these verses have power; out of context, they might seem cliché.

Here are a few of my favorite passages, turned into prayers that you can use during your dark times:

"Lord, I am in distress! Listen to me! Reach down your hand and hold me up!" (Ps. 18:6)

"Lord, have mercy on me! I'm traumatized. My body and soul are wracked with grief. I can't go on! I feel all my strength fading away. I'm not going to survive. Please rescue me!" (Ps. 31:9-10)

"Lord, I am in desperate need. My enemies surround me, wanting me to fail. Only you can help me. I wait for you to work in my life. Please hurry, before I lose everything!" (Ps. 31:15-16)

"Lord, I am watching the wicked succeed all around me. I'm holding my tongue, even though I want to scream that it's not fair. I'm trying to honor you, but my anguish is increasing. Give me perspective, God! Show me how this will end! But until then, teach me to have hope in you alone." (Ps. 39:1-7)

"Lord, I am so discouraged. All my confidence is gone. I have given up hope. Help me to remember your faithfulness. My spirit is thirsty for you. Please come and refresh me!" (Ps. 143)

So take a minute and pray a psalm of agony. Cry out. God will answer you, because that's who he is. He is acquainted with grief. He can't help but respond to the cries of his children!

image by George Hodan


A Mother's Cry


Dear Lord Jesus,

When you lived on earth, you pined for your children--
you said you longed to protect the ones you loved,
gathering them like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.
So you must know how I feel about my children.

I feel desperate for them all the time,
but especially when we are separated from each other.
I've found that it doesn't matter how old they are.
Do you feel the same way?

Being separate makes me painfully aware of my insecurities as their mother.
It's not so different than when they were babies, and I held their feverish bodies in the middle of the night, realizing just how desperate love had made me.
I remember comprehending that I was just not equipped well enough for this monumental role--
I was not prepared to shape a life.

It was then that I began realizing how terribly I needed you.
I still do.
Age has not lessened my inabilities or insecurities. Or my neediness.
Age has, if anything, created a wiser understanding of all of it.

I still need more than ever.
As my children grow, I am overwhelmed with the rush of time
and the realization that I am still growing myself.
And in many areas, I have failed to grow.

Please, Lord,
make me a mother who still gathers my chicks, who makes them feel safe with me.
Make me a mother who listens instead of lectures,
who encourages instead of interrogates,
who supports instead of criticizes.
Make me a mother who's patient, understanding that a life isn't finished learning and growing until it dies--
until our eternal perfection.
Make me a mother who's respectful of my children's decisions, personalities, fears, and triumphs, who doesn't try to make them like me,
and who rejoices that they are not me.
I pray they are the people you created them to be.

Make me a mother who points my children toward you.
I cannot be a perfect representation of you.
(That's pretty obvious by now.)
But perhaps, my failings will show my children to depend on you.
That none of us will ever achieve perfection.
That the Christian life is about striving, failing, and striving again.
That it's about relationship,
just like mothering is primarily about relationship.

That's my cry, Lord,
I ask you to hear it and somehow empower me to do it.
Or at least work around me and perform something miraculous.

In Jesus' loving name,
Amen.



Praying my mother into eternity

Dear Lord of heaven and Lover of our souls,

My soul is grieving, my heart is heavy.
My tears are many.
Yet you stir the truth in me.
You urge me to have perspective about life and death.
Death is not the enemy; it's the pathway into your presence.
Give me the faith to not lose heart.
while my mother's earthly body wastes away;
help me feel your renewal day by day.
Our present troubles are light and momentary compared
to the greatness of living eternity in your presence.
Your glory outweighs the heaviest of earthly pains!
Show us your glory by leading us through this valley of longing and loss.
I will fix my eyes on the unseen because it is eternal,
rather than on the things I see here:
the pain, the deterioration, the separation.
These are temporary;
they are joy-robbers and faith-robbers.
I was not made for this earth,
and neither was my mother.
Eternity calls her, and she deserves to go there.
Give her peace, joy, and eternal satisfaction.
There she will radiate your glory,
even more than she did here on earth.
Give me the courage and faith to believe this process is glorification, not destruction.
You are merely completing your master plan.
You crave her company, as I do.
But she was made for your company, not mine.
You may have her.
I will praise you in all things.

Amen.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18


Why should I thank God when I'm grieving?

I'm grieving, but I want to thank you.

Thank you for creating the church, which functions like a family. I can't explain how people I've never met or hardly know can send me a prayer or encouragement, and I instantly feel loved and no longer alone.

Thank you for making prayer a way to express grief, joy, fear, and frustration. I don't know why it works, but it does.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve You by serving other people. I don't know why loving someone else when I need to be loved fills an emotional hole, but it does.

Thank you for growing my faith through trials. I don't completely understand how suffering can produce joy in my life, but I see it happen all the time.

Thank you for asking me to be generous. I can't explain how we can give away so much and still pay our bills, but remarkably, it's true.

Thank you for a million other blessings--for every sunset, for every flower, for every smile, for every laugh. For exquisite tastes and smells. For the bliss of cuddling a child and kissing a spouse. I am astounded by the richness of life.

You are truly remarkable. There is no other explanation for the joy of life, except to say that You are God. You are holy, righteous, just, wise, fierce, and tender. I am in awe of You.

Thank you for that, too.

Amen.



What to pray after someone dies


Lord Jesus,

You personally know the pain of death.
You know how afraid and sorrowful it makes us.
You know that grief cuts deeply into the human soul,
that it feels like there will never be an end to the heartbreak.

Someone wonderful has died.
You know that, too.
The death of your children is beautiful to you,
but it is so difficult for us.

I am feeling grief for some good people
who have lost a loved one.
They are overwhelmed, shocked, traumatized, bereft.
They feel an ache they never could have imagined.

Only you can fill that gaping hole left by their loved one.
Only you can pour hope and peace, ever so gradually, into their life.
Only you can give them courage to live again--
to seek healing, to start over.
When they're ready.

I ask for your peace to fall on them right now.
Erase the terror about the future.
Block an regret about the past.
Stop the panic about the present.

I beg you, Holy Spirit, to speak words of love and comfort into the dark fearful places of loss.
Bring them support from people who speak love,
who speak seldom, yet are present.
Give them friends to fill the empty spaces left by their loved one's home-going.

Lord, God, heal their broken hearts, I beg you.
And give me the empathy to keep them always in my prayers and actions.

Amen.

A Prayer to Find Answers

Dear Lord God Jehovah,
I'm having a heavy heart kind of day.
I've been remembering sad things,
things that make me feel disappointed and hopeless.
I want to crawl into a corner and shut out life.
That's where You come in.
You've showed up many times during my life when the joy of living has vanished and memories haunt.
And You feel what I feel, at the moment when I feel it.
Even though I feel alone, You are with me.
I must remember who You are and what You
do--
what You have always done for me.
You fill me with unexplainable comfort.
You cradle my heart with warm hands and soothe the heavy space inside that hurts.
You're the reason I pray.
I don't pray because I want answers.
I pray because You are the only Answer.
Thank you for doing Your work in me,
through pain, through confusion, and through thanksgiving.
Thank You for the memories of You.
Amen.



Praying the "Turnaround" Prayer


Today has been especially hard for me, for no particular reason except that I'm grieving, and today I'm grumpy and unsettled about it.

I am not a perky Christian right now. I feel dried up. Parched like a wind-swept desert, I am unable to quench the emptiness of my heart. My faith is strong enough not to rage at God or question His sovereignty; I'm just unhappy, lost even. How selfish that sounds! 
After a sad, scrolling-through of social media posts, I ran across my friend Bob Hostetler's blog on Guideposts, dated yesterday, Sept. 20, 2016. I appreciate his perspective on praying through hard times. Here is an excerpt from his blog "Pray for Blessings from Disappointments"--


"Most of us, when misfortune occurs, pray for relief or deliverance. That is natural, and it’s a good way to pray. 
After all, the psalmist David prayed, “Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me” (Psalm 70:1, NLT). And “Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me” (Psalm 40:13, NLT). . . 
I pray those kinds of prayers a lot. But sometimes I have the presence of mind—and the faith—to pray differently. 
I may start with prayers like those, but I continue in my praying to say something like, “God, turn this whole situation around. Where there is now confusion, bring understanding. Where now there is only pain and suffering, turn it into an occasion for amazement and joy and bring glory to Your name!” . . .
'Turnaround' prayers do more than ask God to fix something, they ask Him to turn a situation on its head and bring beauty from ashes, blessing from disappointment, glory from gloom. 
So try it. Don’t just ask God to heal you, ask Him to turn your affliction around and make it an occasion for rejoicing. Don’t simply request relief, ask for a 180-degree reversal of the situation, one that will bring glory to God. . . .
Pray 'turnaround prayers' and see if your faith and God’s faithfulness combine to do something special in answer to your prayers."


You can read Bob's prayer blog in its entirety (or any of his previous blogs on Guideposts) by clicking on this address:
















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