Learning to lament

In these times of difficulty as individuals and collectively, we've invited the Revd Dr Steve Torr to reflect on what it means to lament. 

Lament is a Biblical prayer practice – undertaken by an individual or a community – in which raw emotions and questions are expressed to God in the midst of experiences of pain and suffering. This can include but is not limited to, descriptions about the situation and the emotions being experienced, questions to God, and suggestions as to what the one lamenting thinks God should do. These are often intermingled with vows of trust and praise.

In more recent times, for various reasons, this practice has been largely overlooked in many parts of the church but, with the outbreak of the current pandemic, there is no better time to (re)introduce ourselves to it. But why?

There are a number of reasons for this but perhaps the most important is that it enables honest relationship with God amidst the most difficult moments of life, which in turn can open us up, as individuals or communities, to the healing work of God.

Reconciliation, healing and wholeness can only come through honest relationship with God, but honest relationship requires expression of the things that wound us to the God who loves us. Rather than a sign of a lack of faith, lamenting is, in fact the very opposite. Biblical lament pours forth from the lips of those who believe in a God who loves them and can change the situation, and it is this faith exemplified in the psalms of lament and in Job, amongst other places, which we see fuel the honest, raw expressive prayers so prominent in those texts.

We have recounted in recent weeks the use of Psalm 22 by Jesus, at the cross, as he cries out to his Father. The fact that Jesus engages in lament offers us further permission and direction to pray in this way when the situation arises. In Romans 8.22-27, Paul seems to suggest that the Holy Spirit even aids us when we lament but are not sure what to say!

God desires honest communion with us and invites us into that, so, in the midst of all that we are experiencing at the moment, there is no better time to think about how we can engage in a more honest, deep and rich relationship with God and guide others in doing the same.

The Revd Dr Steven Torr is Priest-in-Charge, Norton



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Page last updated: Friday 24th April 2020 6:22 AM
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