“You should know that there are two sorts of prayers—the one tender, delightful, amicable, and full of sentiments; the other obscure, dry, desolate, tempted, and darksome.”
~Miguel de Molinos (1628–1696)
Some prayers are bellowed in hearty belts of praise; others are uttered, barely discernible, in silent whimpers. Both are prayers in suitable season. Both are good prayers.
The prayer of praise is usually formed by either the baby believer or the astute biblical veteran—believers at opposite ends of the spiritual maturity continuum.
A prayer of praise in a time of arid dryness is tantamount to the glory of victorious faith. With the fainting truth acknowledged, and the brutish reality accepted, the person prays in the full knowledge they are still sheltered by the covenant Lord of all creation; the Lord of all possibility. They choose belief in deliverance, whether it comes or not.
But it is the latter prayer of anguished lament that occasions this article.
The Language of Lament
The most versatile of prayers involves the language of lament. We learn this from David in consideration of his 50-odd laments in the book of Psalms. He uses the truth-of-his-circumstance to process his grief through the language of lament.
We have the same opportunity. When we pray via the language of lament we spill out the hurtful disgust deep in our souls before our Sovereign God who can help.
We do this in faith, for we know not how our help will come. But having prayed faithfully we will come to know the seeming magic in such a prayer of truth. This ‘magic’ is actually miraculous as it is healing.
Some may fearfully resist being so honest before God. They might feel they cannot be so coarse or crude. But God is no puritan who looks away in embarrassment at our most shameful circumstances. God knows our circumstances inside out, just as he knows our feelings and what we think of them.
So praying in the language of lament is an act of trust in God and it is choosing to be intimate with our Lord who can help.
The prayer of lament on a dark night, when all is wrong in our lives, is one of the greatest votes of faith in God. We could just as easily deny our true feelings. We could just as easily anaesthetise ourselves. But we know that’s not fixing anything.
There is faith in praying truthfully at our lowest ebb—and wisdom too.
When we are in the dark night of our soul, honest prayer is our way through. We know God more, and feel that Divine healing touch, when we are honest in our plight.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.