Songs of Sorrow

“O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out to you by day. I come to you at night. Now hear my prayer; listen to my cry. For my life is full of troubles, and death draws near… My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for your help, O Lord; I lift my hands to you for mercy… You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend” (Psalm 88:1-9, 13-18 NLT).

American evangelical culture tells us that “good Christians” are joyful, happy, healthy, prosperous and positive. If one is sad or mad, then you don’t have enough faith. We don’t like “whiners” and people with “victim mentalities.”

If you hold to this theology, don’t read the book of Psalms and definitely remove the books of Job and Lamentations from your Bible. This view of what it means to be a “good Christian” means that prophets of Israel and Messiah Jesus Himself, lacked faith. This definition of spirituality is false and does not reflect “true spirituality” (living honestly before God).

The Hebrew spirituality taught in scripture clearly promotes to us the idea that we need to be honest with ourselves and God about our struggles, doubts, fears, confusion and pain. God does not want us to deny, but dare to share all of our darkest moments with Him.

Of all the types of prayers in the Bible that are recorded, those of “Lamentation” are greater in number and intensity than any other type of divinely inspired prayer.


What is a Lamentation?

A prayer of lament is a direct address to God in a time of distress. It is one thing to say, “Oh, God!” as an expression of pain and another thing to say earnestly, “Oh God, help me in this time of suffering! You are All powerful and I am not. Save me!” The difference is great between these two ways of expressing our pain.

Prayers of Lament do help us psychologically. But they are more than just for our psychological healing. Lament’s primary motivation is to take whatever distress we are in before the throne of God and await His response. The aim of the prayer of lament is to encounter God Himself as Job did at the end of his lamenting.[1]


How does one pray such a prayer?

Here is a basic recipe for prayers of lament.[2]

  1. Call out or shout to God in your pain.
  2. Complaint or Lament: Articulate the problem and ask the Lord for help.
  3. Remember times when God acted or spoke to you and speak to yourself about such times in the prayer (self-talk).
  4. Confession of Trust: Verbalize your trust, however imperfect, in the Lord.
  5. Prayer for Deliverance: Request deliverance or God’s intervention in the problem.
  6. Repeat the first five until some encounter with the Lord is felt and experienced.
  7. Praise: Offer praise and thanksgiving to God for God’s coming to you in your pain. [3]

Now your prayers won’t always follow this pattern, but it can help us to know what to pray and to see the process.


As you deal with the pain of your past, the wounds of abuse you suffered, and the losses of your life, don’t run from God in shame, but to Him knowing that HE is ready to hear YOU and help YOU.


Dr. Norman Wise is the Executive Director of Living Water Christian Counseling and host of “Ask the Counselor” on Living Water can be reached at 954-726-2303.




[3] If you are looking for more biblical examples of prayers of lament, here are some.

Individual psalms of Lament include: 3, 4, 5, 7, 9-10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 36, 39, 40:12-17, 41, 42-43, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 64, 70, 71, 77, 86, 89, 120, 139, 141, 142.

Corporate psalms of Lament include: 12, 44, 58, 60, 74, 79, 80, 83, 85, 89, 90, 94, 123, 126, 129.

Share this article