I haven’t posted or even written much in the past few months because there’s been so much going on it’s hard to emotionally or mentally be still long enough to ponder.
I recently finished a book (‘The Prophetic Imagination’ by Walter Brueggemann – HIGHLY recommend,) though, that highlighted the importance of lament – how the lament bursts throughout the Old Testament and is largely absent in our faith communities today. Something should set us apart as Christians, and that is our belief that the chaos and brokenness of this world is not how things should be. Indeed, Jesus is coming back and we have hope in this promise, but in the meantime it’s essential that we acknowledge and lament the brokenness of our world, thereby recognizing our need for a redeemer.
So I share this because I think lament is unnatural for us, especially in moments like this one. It’s taking practice for me, and I think seeing it shared more frequently is a good start. So in the congestion of our social and news feeds, I offer this: a prayer of lament.
A prayer of lament:
Oh Lord, where do I begin?
With the “I can’t breathe,” the cries for mothers, the protectors who turned instigators?
Or with the separation, the degeneration, the scape-goating and neglect?
Or maybe the fleeing, the pursuit of survival, the “we’re better off without you but I guess you’re here to stay?”
Or the bondage, the rape, the dehumanization, the blasphemous Bible-in-hand excuses, the whipping, the thief of life and livelihood and personhood?
Or do I begin at the beginning? When the apple was offered and eaten and changed everything, when hatred and prejudice and bigotry took root in our hearts?
Oh Lord, I grieve it all — for children without fathers, for families driven from their communities, for neighborhoods marred with drugs and violence, for one million “you’re not good enoughs,” for opportunities lost, for all that is deserved that was never granted, for injustice and and lies and coverups, for sneaky loopholes, for promises not kept, for the outright violence and the smallest inequities, for the hate-filled training up of children and the neglect of what should have been acknowledged, for the lives lost, the livelihood lost, the dreams never realized. Where do I even begin?
You know it Lord, you know it all. You’ve seen every inch of it, and you grieved it first. Through it all you’ve comforted; you’ve been there all along.
Father, it’s in my heart. I must begin with a confession, an acknowledgement of the offense, a recognition of the sins of my ancestors, lasting from generation to generation. Cleanse me, teach me, humble me, purge me. Create in me a pure heart, a loving heart, with eyes to see like you do, with a spirit to welcome like yours does, with a heart for justice like yours.
And now, Jesus, where do I go next? How do I dig all the way down to the source, the root of all this? In my world, in my community, in me?
Lord, show me where to begin. In the secret moments, the quiet moments, with just the two of us, open my eyes. Show me the darkest corners of my heart and shine your light there.
Lord, make it “on Earth as it is in Heaven,” where every tribe and tongue and nation and color and background is loved wholly and fully for the uniqueness you delight in. Flood us with your mercy, bind us with your truth, and make us unified in pursuit of your kingdom.
Spirit, intercede for me in my failings – even my failings as I pray. Meet me in my weakness.
Lord, hear the prayers of your people.