How to pray when suffering: lessons from Lamentations
Copyright 2011 by Bob Rogers
“I called on Your name, Yahweh, from the depths of the Pit. You hear my plea: Do not ignore my cry for relief.” — Lamentations 3:55-56, HCSB
After Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon in 586 B.C. and they sent the Jews into exile, Jeremiah the prophet wrote the Book of Lamentations, a poem full of mourning but also full of faith. In this little book, we learn lessons on how to pray in our times of suffering.
1) Plead for God to notice your pain. Jeremiah asked God to “look” (1:9, 11) and “see” (1:20). He repeatedly asked Yahweh to “remember my affliction” (3:19).
2) Admit your own sin and take responsibility for your any ways you have brought suffering on yourself. “We have sinned” (3:42). “Woe to us, for we have sinned.” (5:16). Even though Jeremiah tells the Lord that their suffering is unbearable, he also admits, “Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins?” (3:39).
3) Praise the Lord anyway. After lamenting the horrors of the destruction of Jerusalem that led to cannibalism (2:20) and priests and prophets murdered in the temple (2:20), it is amazing to read Jeremiah’s statement in 3:22-23: “Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness!”
4) Wait for the Lord to bring justice. “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him… It is good to wait quietly for deliverance from the Lord.” (3:25-26). “You defend my cause, Lord; You redeem my life. Lord, You see the wrong done to me; judge my case.” (3:58-59).
5) Ask the Lord to restore you, bringing good results from the bad experiences of your life. “Lord, restore us to Yourself, so we may return; renew our days as in former times.” (5:21).