Lament is more than just venting our sadness, frustration, anger, regret, or despair. It goes far beyond mere sorrow over sin in our lives or community. Those are part of the lament. The lament begins there, but it does not end there. Lament is a powerful act of intercession rooted in a desire to see the promises of God fulfilled in our lives and in our world. It is the great cry of the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
When God’s people begin to see reality from God’s perspective, they recognize the brokenness, ugliness, darkness, and pain of a world which is not aligned to the kingdom of God. They weep for that brokenness, but then faithfully declare God’s promises. The process looks something like this:
- See what God sees. Our thoughts and awareness about our lives, circumstances, and world must align with God’s. Alignment with God’s thoughts exposes things in our lives that do not align with His kingdom. As long we ignore those things, we cannot enter into Godly lament.
- Grieve over what grieves God. God so loves the world that the brokenness and sorrow He sees breaks His heart. Our hearts should be broken by what breaks God’s. We have the mind of Christ – including all His joys AND all His anguish. We know Jesus experienced pain for the lost and hurting, so we should know that same anguish.
- Seek God’s help. The lament moves from a cry of anguish to a passionate plea for God’s divine intervention and healing. The intercessor’s lament cries, “GOD! Send your mercy for we are in desperate need!”
- Declare the promise. Faith and hope are the motivation and destination of lament. We cannot properly lament without resting in the promises of God. We do not deny the pain and injustice, but we declare our hope for a reconciliation we have not yet seen. We declare God’s goodness and power even as we long for the fullness – in full confidence that He WILL be glorified. Our lament builds our own faith and the faith of others!
Practicing Personal and Corporate Lament
- Pray the Psalms – take note of those that resonate with you. As you read them, insert the situation, circumstance, broken elements that grieve you right now.
- Ask God to give you his heart, his eyes, his ears to see, hear, and feel the pain in the world around us. We breeze by the pain too often without stopping to hear it. We rarely step into it and let it truly break our heart. We like to rejoice with those who rejoice, but we shy away from mourning with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15)
- Write a Lament to pray at meetings and in your quiet time. Join the Prophetic Prayer group, the Pre-service Garden Room Prayer group and use those laments when you have nothing else to pray.
- Pray in the Spirit with groanings that have no words!
“25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:25-27)