Sometime ago someone facing a trial in her life and family called me and asked what to do. It was the type of situation where not much could be done, but pray. If God does not intervene and rescue we cannot do anything. I suggested she be sincere with God and express her disappointments, frustrations, and needs to Him. I told her to start praying the Psalms, reading them as if they were her words to God.
Reading the Psalms is one thing, but praying the Psalms is something totally different. The Psalmists are bold and brave. They have a way of coming before the Lord with expressions that we might not feel comfortable using. .
Would you ever be brave enough to say this to God?
“Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked.”
“Arise, O LORD, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice.”
“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”
“Rise up, O LORD,”
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?”
“O LORD, you have seen this; be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord.”
“Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord.”
The Psalms of Lament are a group of Psalms that express this sentiment. The psalmists are in agony for some circumstance in their personal life or in the life of the nation. Because of that they come before the Lord and put everything at His feet. They do not avoid words or expressions; they just say what is in their hearts. It is like they are saying: C’mon God, give me a break!
Some scholars believe that as many as 57 of the Psalms could be in that category. This is 38% of the Psalms. If we believe that God inspired those psalmists, and if we believe that God allowed those Psalms to be in the Bible it is because He wants us to learn how to pray, and to expose our feelings and ourselves to Him.
The Psalms of Lament are a cry for help. It is like a 911 call. We find ourselves in a bad situation and we need a Divine intervention right away. We do not have any other recourse and we cry. Maybe we will not have the right words, and our attitudes will not be the best, but our hearts will be wide open to God.
The psalmists’ intention is not to move away from God, but to move God closer to them. As someone said: “they seek to awaken God to their need, to hasten His approach, and to ensure His action in their behalf.” All these Psalms have a pattern: 1. They address God in an invocation, 2. They share the problem and their initial plea for help, 3. They confess their trust that God is able to do something, 4. And they finish with assurance, praise, and trust in God’s love and mercy.
As we walk through these Psalms, I would like to challenge you to use them for your personal prayer. Sometimes we do not feel comfortable or confident enough to say these words. The psalmists can help us to express our anguish, pain, frustration, and needs before the Lord. They also can help us to be confident that no matter what is going on in our lives; God is a loving, powerful, and present God.
Have a blessed week,