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On the Journey...
(Weekly insights from FMC)
September 24, 2014 submitted by Derrick Ramer
Spiritual Practice: Prayers of Lament
It seems to me the past few weeks we have talked about people on the fringes and in the dessert; people seeking healing and life. This is likely because both Kent and I talked about the people Jesus was serving during his ministry. I thought I would use this On the Journey to talk about a spiritual practice that can be helpful when we find ourselves hurting and seeking; prayers of lament.
I am sure many of you know Bob Yoder. He is currently the campus pastor at Goshen College and Pamela Yoder’s husband. I have learned much about the prayers of lament from Bob as he has done much work with them. Laments have 3 acts. Act I: Arguing with God. People get mad at God and pour out their raw emotions. Act II: Remembering God’s goodness. Gradually those who complained to God remember God’s help in the past and know that God has heard them. Act III: Praising God. Those who lament realize they can trust God with their lives and they tell God, “Thanks!” Psalm 13 is a good example:
1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 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?
3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
Not all laments in the Psalms have all three of these acts. A prayer of lament my just be the first act, or the first two.
I have prayed many prayers of lament these past few years as I walked the road of cancer and depression. It can also be helpful to actually sit down and write a prayer of lament. It can sometimes be hard to pray prayers of lament to God because it involves Act I: arguing with God. Often we seem so afraid to get mad at God or to tell God how we feel. I believe God is big enough to handle us being angry and upset, even at God. God knows how I feel, and I think God appreciates the honesty when I can say how angry I am at God. If you are struggling or seeking, if you find yourself in a desert; I just encourage you to sit down sometime this week and write God a psalm of lament for yourself. Be honest with God, God can handle everything you throw at God.
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