At a recent Journey retreat, Dr. Leslie Allen, Senior Professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, shared a presentation on the theme of “Praying the Psalms.” One comment he made has stuck with me. He shared that more than half of the psalms are laments. I found myself wondering how it could be that if the prayer book of the church (which the psalms are often called) is so full of lament that a typical worship gathering could be so empty of such expressions. We seem to be uncomfortable with the idea that we might have something to grieve in God’s presence just as truly as we have something to rejoice over.
What might it look like to provide God’s people with shepherding in how to grieve their sorrows, their wounds, their own shortcomings and offenses (and the ways others have failed or wounded them)? Simply praying some of the psalms of lament could help. I know that in my own praying the psalms I sometimes connect emotionally with the anger, grief and sadness of the psalm writer. My own journey through therapy recently has surfaced many such places.
I found this video on YouTube as an expression of lament in song. I’d be interested in hear stories of how your worshipping community has provided space for lament in your gatherings. (As for the title, I know at least that I have much to learn about living into the real lament places of my heart).