PRAYER OF LAMENT
Praying lament is a deeply personal experience. This exercise has been designed to help you connect with your own feelings and experiences so you can freely express them to God. Don’t feel like you need to go deep if you’re not ready. Remember, honesty is where the real power is with lament, so try not to filter your emotions and words.
01 Become aware —
To start, make yourself comfortable and take a few deep breaths. Become aware of your surroundings, the sounds, the temperature, how your body is today. Open up to God.
02 Focus on a feeling —
Let yourself feel your present emotional state, your difficult situations and griefs and losses. You may have a few in your life. See if you can bring your focus to one of those emotions or situations that you’re currently feeling hurt or angry about.
03 Sit with it —
Sit with that feeling, without judging it or telling yourself it’s good or bad. Just notice how it feels. Can you locate it in your body? Your gut? Chest? Back? Shoulders? What is it like to hold that within you?
04 Bring it to God —
Now, imagine holding it out in your hands as you stand before him, so you can both see it. Tell God exactly how you feel, without a filter, and allow God to feel what you feel in this moment, to acknowledge the pain and grief that exists. Be raw, honest, and vulnerable. Let God hear all that’s in your heart. Remember, you’re taking your pain to him, on a quest for deeper intimacy, not rebellion. And know that God can bear it, and that he knows what it’s like to hurt. Hebrews 4v15 tells us that God sympathizes with us. Give God consent to sympathize with your lament.
05 Express your desires and needs —
Plead with God to act, to change what is, to redeem or vindicate or heal or save or fight on your behalf. Wrestle with God if you feel the permission to do so.
06 Give God your trust —
Then, let go. You might want to say, “Even though I feel [insert your emotion or lament], you are good and I trust you with it.” Or “I trust you, help my lack of trust!” Or use the ending to Jesus’s own prayer of lament, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
07 Be still —
For a few minutes, be still before God and allow him to respond. You may feel a lightness or a peace, you may see a picture or hear a word in your mind or imagination, or you might not. Notice how you feel after letting God hear your lament. Whatever happens, allow God the opportunity to meet you in this moment.
08 Give thanks —
Finally, take a moment to thank God for being with you in this space. For listening, and for caring.
Reminder: Start with where you are.
As an alternative to the tutorial above, you can simply pray one of the Psalms of Lament. Scholars argue approximately two-thirds of the 150 psalms are prayers of lament. Here are a few we recommend to pray: Psalm 10, 13, 22, 42, 74, 77
You can also re-read tonight’s scripture (Matthew 27:1-31) and bring the laments and thoughts that stir up out of the scripture into this prayer tool.