Praying with Jesus: Prayers of Lament
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.” – Psalm 22:1-2
Have you ever had a terrible day…or week…or month?
What did you tell God about it? Did you tell Him anything?
I remember talking with a guy, I’ll call him, “Alex,” here. Alex had been going through a very difficult time. He was not only feeling worn down and helpless from this struggle, but mad. He was mad that God wasn’t removing the struggle.
I think he was expecting me to say something about how it was all happening for a reason because he seemed rather surprised by my response.
“Have you told God?”
“Of course! I’ve told Him what was happening and begged Him to help.” Alex responded rather upset.
I replied, “No, I don’t mean you told God about the problem. I mean have you told Him how confused and mad you are that He’s allowing this to happen?”
“No. You aren’t supposed to complain to God,” he said, a little confused.
“Really?” I said. “Why not?”
Alex isn’t alone. I’ve talked with many people who thought this. We’ve been taught by our parents, coaches, and others not to complain and we have assumed that means we can’t express our confusion and frustration to God. We see it as being ungrateful and lacking faith.
Psalms of Lament
Yet, read through the Psalms guess what you are going to find. Laments. A lament sounds a lot like complaining, a lot like confusion and frustration.
The passage for today is from Psalm 22, but the first part of it is probably more familiar to you as the words Jesus spoke from the cross. He was reciting Psalm 22, a lament Psalm.
Yes, even Jesus lamented to God.
Perhaps you have felt anguish and frustration, but also felt like you can’t express that to God. You can.
- God already knows. So, your thinking it or expressing it to others, but holding it back to God isn’t keeping God in the dark.
- God wants you to turn to Him. Over and over in the Scriptures, God tells us to turn to Him in every situation.
There is, however, one more important thing to note about the Laments in the Bible.
The lament isn’t just a complaint. The lament is always accompanied by a statement of faith. Yes, it’s,
“God! Why are You allowing this? Why aren’t You helping?”
However, it’s also,
“Because I know that You are good and mighty. I remember that You lift up the meek and care for those who suffer. So, I will wait on the Lord.”
If you think about it, the frustration happens because you expect God to act. So, the statement of faith is natural. It also reminds you of who God is. It reminds you that you can trust God, even through the suffering.
Jesus is well acquainted with suffering. The Father forsook Jesus on the cross because Jesus took all our sins. Jesus endured that so that you would not be forsaken, and as a child of God, you never will be.
Take a few minutes to read the rest of Psalm 22.
If you are struggling right now and feel frustrated (or in the future if it happens) don’t hold it in. Turn to God. Pray a lament. Maybe pray a Psalm of lament. He will listen.
I know that you are a good and loving Father. Yet, there are times I go through suffering that I don’t understand. Honestly, it has made me mad. Help me to turn to You in those times. Help me to be able to express my frustration, but do so in faith, knowing that You care for me and that You are my hope and my salvation.
In Christ’s Service,