“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.” Psalm 13 NLT
My heart and soul have been filled with despair for the past few days. A member of my family, who we dearly love, has been afflicted with multiple illnesses and unbearable pain. Every day, I find myself crying. I keep asking the Lord, “Lord, why is this happening? Have mercy on him.” Our family is in despair, not knowing what the future holds.
I didn’t have the strength to get out of bed today. My heart was overwhelmed with pain. Suddenly, the Lord led me to read the prayer of Lament. I had no idea that such a prayer existed. Being obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, I then read Psalm 13.
After reading it, I watched the video “The Prayer of Lament” by Jennifer Rothschild, one of the authors of “When You Pray.” My perspective of Lament and its purpose changed after I listened to her story.
This is what I learned from listening to her teaching:
- To lament is to express our pain, broken heart, despair, and grief to the Lord our God.
- Lamentation is NOT a form of complaining. It’s an invitation to come to our Father and share our feelings with Him. This allows us to reveal our hearts while we are in the presence of God.
- Lament is a path we walk with God and where He reveals Himself to us.
Steppingstones of the Prayer of Lament:
- I feel:
“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?” (Psalm 13:1-2, NLT).
David was unveiling his heart to God:
God reveals His character to us when we come to Him in the secret & safe place of His presence. He reveals who He is and what He can do during this time.
Isaiah 49:14-15 writes, “Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us. Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”
.Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
- I Need-
“Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.” (Psalm 13:3-4).
In these verses, David is telling God he has a need.
- Look at me and answer me.
- Consider me
- I want to know that you see me; you see my pain and despair.
Like David, we all need God to see us and know what we’re going through.
Habakkuk cries out to God in Habakkuk 1:2, telling Him he has a need. “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
After Habakkuk told the Lord how he felt, he praised God for Who He was, even though his prayer wasn’t immediately answered. Why? Habakkuk knew who God was. He knew of God’s goodness and faithfulness.
Only by spending time with God and allowing Him to show us His character can we truly know who He is.
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” Habakkuk 3:17-19
We can pray to God to open our eyes and souls, to grant us wisdom, knowledge, discerning, and contentment when we go to that sacred and safe place where there’s only you and God. We can ask Him to help us walk the path of Lament, where we bring our grief and sorrow to the Father, and it is then that He reveals His character to us.
- I Will-
“But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6).
No matter what trials he was going through, David knew God and trusted in His unfailing love; he knew God would never fail him. David knew God was with him.
God has given us the lament prayer to help us grieve. We must walk the path of Lament when we are broken, hurt, in despair, and have no answers. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus made it possible for us to have an intimate relationship with God, the Father.
Friends, in the presence of our Lord, the Prayer of Lament is a sacred and safe place where you and I can work through our pain, grief, fears, and despair. In His presence, He reveals His character to us and continually reminds us of His goodness and faithfulness.
God gives us comfort, peace, understanding, and wisdom as we walk on this path.
We may not get the answer we want, or perhaps it doesn’t come right away, but He gives us the inner peace we need, knowing that He is the fourth person in the lion’s den and the fire with us.
Dear friends, I don’t know if you can relate, but if you do, be encouraged; we are not alone in our grief. Perhaps you’re going through a grieving season and can find the strength to praise God during it. But that’s okay. God, meet us where we’re at. God is right there with us. And through the Holy Spirit, God guides us as we walk the path of Lament one day at a time.
Dear Father, thank You for Your grace, mercy, love, goodness, and faithfulness. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your sacrifice. Your death and resurrection paved the way to reestablish my relationship with my Father, so I can come to His presence at any time, knowing He’s always here with me, willing to listen and reveal Himself to me, especially when my heart is broken. Lord, forgive me for my complaints when things don’t go as I expected. Enlighten my eyes and soul. Give me wisdom, discernment, and contentment so that I can see things through Your eyes. In Jesus’ name, amen.
The Holy Bible, New Living Translation. (1996). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Foundation.
[Jennifer Rothschild]. (Lifeway Women Bible Studies, 2023/September 2023.) Prayers of Lament. [Video]. http://www.lifeway.com/Whenyoupray