Last year, I got to lead a Small Group going through the Psalms, using what I learned from a Psalms class at Biola University 30 years ago.
It touches my life when I try to use the ideas to write my own psalm-prayers.
The first idea is to use parallelism:
For each line, I repeat myself;
each thought, I express in another way.
You get the idea!
One of the most common forms used in the Psalms is a Lament. I’ve heard Christians list necessary components of prayer. They are usually along the lines of Adoration, Confession, Thanks, Intercession. For me, it gives new energy to try to pray in the form of a Lament.
Here are the parts of a Lament. I’ll give examples from several different Psalms. Every Lament does not necessarily have every single part.
1. Address to God
Answer me when I call to you,
O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
be merciful to me and hear my prayer.
— Psalm 4:1
2. Lament or complaint.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
— Psalm 13:1-2
3. Review of God’s Help (Confession of Trust).
But you are a shield around me, O Lord;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the Lord I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side.
— Psalm 3: 3-6
Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.
— Psalm 3:7
5. Words of Assurance.
For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
— Psalm 5:12
6. Vow to Praise.
I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness
and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.
— Psalm 7:17
I was looking back over my journal, and a bit more than a year ago, before I briefly dated someone, I wrote a Lament-Prayer about my longing for love. Now that Spring is in the air, that raises a chord with me again.
So I offer the following Lament for Love. I know there are many out there who will echo my prayer. For those who already have a deep love in your life, let this simply be a suggestion of a form to try using in your prayers.
Hear my voice, O Lord!
I need you more than I even realize.
You know the future;
your guidance is best.
I want to follow your leading;
I want your plans for me to come to pass.
I don’t want to be swayed by my own emotions or selfishness or lust;
I want to follow your way.
Lord, I’m confused about what to do.
I’m so inexperienced, so naïve and vulnerable.
It’s been 10 years since I had sex;
my body’s longing for physical affection.
I’m hungry for affirmation,
so I will be easily swayed.
And I do feel lonely and inadequate.
Why did my beloved reject me?
I wonder if I am adequate
— and he told me I was not.
I drenched my bed with weeping
and my sobs were uncountable.
When any man is kind to me,
it brings tears to my eyes.
My heart is vulnerable
and easily swayed.
But you, O Lord, have been with me in the wilderness.
You have lavished your love on me.
You have made me feel loved;
you have held me in my most pained moments.
Please, Lord, give me wisdom!
Show me the way I should go.
Bring a man into my life who loves you truly
and who knows how to be affectionate toward me.
Bring someone who will want to serve you together with me,
and make it clear this is from you.
Surely your plans for me are good, O Lord.
Your lovingkindness is inexhaustible.
No one is as trustworthy as you.
Your faithfulness endures forever.
When You bring a great love into my life,
I will sing thanks to you.
I will tell the world how much you have done;
I will sing of your kindness.