We’re going to learn together how to pray a psalm of lament. In the next few days we’ll learn the basics, and then go deeper. We’ll start with the first Psalm of Lament, which is Psalm 3. This is an individual rather than a community lament. In a classic lament there are three parts:
1. The lament — the honest complaint or cry of your sorrowing fearful heart
2. Remembering God’s goodness in the past. The Spirit brings to the psalmists remembrance God’s faithfulness to Israel or to him as an individual. He also brings to his remembrance God’s character. The Spirit does not explain the why of the circumstances, but the heart of God.
3. The prayer, based now on faith in God, or the resolve, based on faith in God.
Here are the questions:
1. Find these three parts in Psalm 3. Which verses are for each?
2. My prayer journal entries in the close of chapter 1 of The God of All Comfort basically shows just Part I of the lament. Find a few examples.
3. Now — you do Part I. Pour out your sorrowing or fearful heart. Do it for God — if writing here won’t change your cry, then write it here. If you are not in a time of pain, pray for those who are. Right now, you could pray for earthquake victims in Haiti.
4. Now, and this is crucial: Warm your heart at the fire of God’s love by meditating on Part II, the part where the psalmist remembers things about God. If one of the verses sparks something in you, then God has spoken to you — and stay there, meditating, warming yourself, letting your heart catch fire.
I’m expecting to see God move among you! For some of you He will be silent, as He is in some Psalms of lament, but usually He gives you enough you can resolve, at least, to hold on.
5. Write your request, or resolve, if you can, as in Part III.
I’m counting on some of you to do this very clearly as a model for all of us. Don’t hurry. Meditation takes time. Your heart may not be quickened at all, or it may not be quickened until the end of the week — but keep meditating, asking God to dialogue with You. You see prayer is, in part, pouring out your heart — but the psalms allow it to be a two way conversation — a dialogue.