Over the last couple of weeks, I have been learning more about prayer. And in doing so, I have found out that while prayer is simple, a lot of us do not lay it all out there for Him. A lot of us simply say a set of words that we feel He wants to hear, and then we move on. Some of us keep it short and sweet. Some of us keep to the positive stuff, but never really bring up the anger or distress we have. We just keep pushing that part down in ourselves until it bursts, and then we feel shame or guilt when it does come out. We don’t have to do that with God.
God created prayer as a way of communicating with Him. We need it more than He does. He knows and sees everything. We clearly don’t. We are the ones benefiting the most from our relationship with God and all that comes with it. The most important benefit being our communion with Him. He has everything at His disposal. He knows that we need that communication with Him to be strengthened, edified, and encouraged.
It just so happened that last week I read the book of Lamentations in the Bible. Every time I have read this in the past, I have just glossed over it. I didn’t ever really read it. It was just another book to check off the list while reading through the Bible in a year. That and I have a tough time with poetry in general. It’s because I just don’t understand what others are getting out of it that I am not getting. If I don’t immediately understand it, I’ll just keep reading, hoping that it will clear up eventually. However, I will say that diving into it last week opened my eyes and heart to the truths and encouragement that it holds.
The biggest difficulties I have is slowing down to take in what God is teaching me in that sitting. I don’t necessarily every time give God that space to teach me. I go into mechanical mode at times and just read only to put it away and move on to something else. Usually, that is when I am thinking of all of the other things that I need to be doing.
You may be wondering why I keep talking about prayer and not about what this writing is titled. I will get into that. I felt that it was necessary to lead into what a lament is because is a type of prayer. We can communicate with God in a variety of ways, and all of these ways are important. But a lament is, in my opinion, one of the most important ways to grow closer to Him.
To lament is to be completely honest and bare with God. When we have hard questions, pain, and confusing feelings, the first place we need to take them to is God, the One that can do something about whatever we may be experiencing. Being able to come to Him with our complaints and our outcries is a great benefit of prayer.
God is capable of handling anything and everything we bring to Him. In Lamentations, the author is so thoroughly upset and distraught. He is confused and pained. He lets it all out, and it ends with a continuation of what he is experiencing. It doesn’t end in a nice, neat ending where they lived “happily ever after.” It ends with Israel still devastated by their oppressors. They are still struggling. However, the point is that he gave all of his pain and sorrow to God. He gave all of his struggle to God trusting in what He has for him.
We cannot develop a deeply honest and real relationship with Him without bringing all of ourselves to Him. Part of our life involves some pretty disconcerting thoughts and feelings. In order to work through these, He has provided His comfort and companionship. Our way of fully utilizing His provision is by allowing ourselves to lament and cry out to Him about anything and everything. We cannot hurt His feelings or scare Him away. A friend told me recently, “He can handle Himself. Let it all out.”
As a matter of fact, God is the only One that can handle our feelings of frustration, pain, sorrow, and confusion in its entirety. Working through all of these feelings and giving it over to God provides clarity since we can eventually remember God’s unchanging character. God does not change. The author of Lamentations remembers God’s character when he says in 3:22-23,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
God’s love does not stop just because you are struggling. He does not withhold His mercy toward us just because we confused and hurt and angry. He is faithful more than anyone has been or even can be. Just because we cry out asking why this is happening or what does it all mean, His love for us is just as fresh and full as it was before. He doesn’t love us more for doing what He says, and He doesn’t love us less for not doing what He says. He just plain loves us. That’s it.
We can come to Him with our everything because He loves us. And because we have a High Priest in Jesus, we can come directly to Him. We don’t have to go to someone to speak to God on our behalf. And also, as His children, we have access to Him at all times, and He does not turn us away. He delights in us. He wants to hear about our struggles, pains, hurts, hard questions, and anything else we may have. We can trust Him with our everything. Lament away. In my own experience, it really helps if you let it.
Gotta go fill up my cup…..