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  • Writer's pictureGail Edmonson

Journey of Lament

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

How do we pray in this season as we grapple with the brokenness of our lives, our communities, our nation, and our world? I find that praying prayers of lament can be especially helpful in times like these.

In my previous post, An Invitation to Grieve, I shared some of the things I have been learning as I have been drawn to prayers of lament. (I encourage you to read that post for more information about the spiritual practice of lament.) Lament is a form of prayer in which we express sorrow, mourning, or regret. It gives us space to name our pain in the presence of God and express how we feel to God in every stage of grieving, including anger and regret, as well as sorrow.

The arms of God are a safe place to navigate pain and suffering because it is the place where we can honestly express what we feel without fear of being shamed or rejected. When we lament, we draw nearer to the heart of Christ who knows our every sorrow. And in our suffering, when we cannot formulate the words to pray, the Spirit intercedes for us. Expressing our pain doesn’t change or fix what we are going through – what it does is provide us with an occasion to experience a greater trust and hope in God.

Prayers of lament offer us an opportunity to grow in intimacy with our loving Father who cares for us deeply. You can engage in prayers of lament alone with God or in community with others. Recently, I met online with a beautiful group of people for the purpose of praying prayers of lament. Although we were together in community online, our prayers of lament were individual, in silence, each of us alone with the Lord. For me, the solidarity of being together as believers in the presence of the Lord was one of the most meaningful aspects of coming together.

Lament prayers make up about one-third of the psalms so if you struggle to find words to pray your pain, it can be helpful to pray some of the psalms of lament. Psalms of communal lament are Psalm 12, 44, 58, 60, 74, 79, 80, 83, 85, 89, 90, 94, 123, 126, and 129. Individual laments are found in Psalm 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 25, 26 and 27.

Below, you’ll find an outline I use in the spiritual practice of lament. I refer to it as journey of lament because it is a path to walk in prayer with God. I based the stages in the journey on what can be observed in scriptural prayers of lament as well as what I have learned from others. You can use these steps and revise them as needed to personalize lamenting for yourself. The best thing you can do in lamenting is to bring your whole self to God and honestly express what you are feeling.

You’ll notice each step has an intentional pause (noted as SELAH) for silence and listening to the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to make your time of prayer a conversation with God, giving Him space to speak as you listen. You can spend as much time in each step as you would like - in fact, you will probably spend more time in some and less time in others. This whole journey might be as short as 10 minutes or as long as an hour (or more).

Journey of Lament

1. Enter Into Quiet With God

· Breathe

· Relax

· Offer distracting thoughts to God

· Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10a

2. Call On God

· Notice what name/s of God the Holy Spirit brings to your attention.

· Begin calling on God as the Spirit leads.

· Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer! Psalm 4:1


• Pause for silence and listening to the Holy Spirit.

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. Psalm 62:5

3. Name In The Presence of God

· Notice your emotions.

· Name your pain in the presence of God.

· Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.

Psalm 25:16-18


• Pause for silence and listening to the Holy Spirit.

Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Psalm 4:4

4. Ask God For What You Need

· Draw near to Christ as you express your needs and desires.

· But you, O Lord, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Psalm 22:19


• Pause for silence and listening to the Holy Spirit.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalm 4:4

5. Affirm Your Trust In God

· Lament does not take away our pain and suffering, but it draws us nearer to the heart of God, in whom we can trust.

· But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me. Psalm 13:5-6


• Pause for silence and listening to the Holy Spirit.

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. Isaiah 30:15

6. Offer Praise To God

· Recognize the goodness of God and offer your heartfelt praises to Him.

· I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. Psalm 7:17


• Pause for silence and listening to the Holy Spirit.

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Psalm 46:10

My prayer is that you will find the simple beauty of bringing your whole self to the Lord and opening every place in your heart to Him.


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Through the Unexpected Grace Blog I offer encouragement to help you engage deeply with Father, Son, and Spirit. I do this by posting some of what I am learning, along with resources for your journey - such as prayer practices, articles, books, workshops, and retreats.


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