Why We Added a Prayer of Lament to Our Sunday Gathering

We yearn for Jesus’ return to right all wrongs and renew our world, freeing us from the chaos and grief that accompanies deep suffering.

Lament is a biblical way to process grief. It gives us the opportunity to face and name our pain and then to create space for future hope—all without glossing over tragedy. It allows us to cry and rage and even protest life’s difficulties to God and others without fear of judgment. It gives us permission to ask How God? Why God? It’s often raw and emotional. And that’s okay. The Bible gives space for God’s people to do this.

 

The world is not as it should be—and we feel it. From natural disasters to school shootings to personal tragedies, we’ve all been affected by the brokenness of a fallen world. We yearn for Jesus’ return to right all wrongs and renew our world, freeing us from the chaos and grief that accompanies deep suffering.

But until that day, what do we do with our grief? What do we do right now while we’re in the thick of it? We lament.

What is Lament?

Lament is a biblical way to process grief. It gives us the opportunity to face and name our pain and then to create space for future hope—all without glossing over tragedy. It allows us to cry and rage and even protest life’s difficulties to God and others without fear of judgment. It gives us permission to ask How God? Why God? It’s often raw and emotional. And that’s okay. The Bible gives space for God’s people to do this.

Lament in the Bible

In the Old Testament, almost a third of Israel’s songbook is devoted to psalms of lament, both corporate and individual. Israel’s wisdom literature offers the story of Job’s honest protests to the Lord amid his tragedy. Lamentations is a tear-drenched book entirely dedicated to the cries of God’s people as they process the greatest catastrophe in their history and ask for deliverance despite their sin.

In the New Testament, we witness Jesus lamenting Jerusalem’s future doom and then his own path of doom in the garden. We see missionaries like Paul crying over his lost brothers of Israel. Even in Revelation, the martyred saints cry out “How long, oh Lord?” as they await their vindication. Lament is ingrained into the culture of Jesus’ people and will be until he returns.

Lament in Corporate Gatherings

That’s why we recently added a corporate prayer of lament to our public worship. It’s not a weekly dirge, but an honest, biblical cry we pray every few months to express our grief over the suffering in this world and in our lives. It’s been invaluable. Here are four reasons why.

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