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How to lament like a champ...

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WRITING A PRAYER OF LAMENT

“Both the child and the cynic walk through the valley of the  shadow of death. The cynic focuses on the darkness; the child focuses on the Shepherd.” (Paul Miller, A Praying Life)

A lament is a specific type of prayer in the midst of sorrow, longing, and the feeling that things aren’t as they are supposed to be. We are always dependent on God. We cry out to God in lament when we feel we have nowhere else to turn. It’s a child-like prayer that is aware of the darkness but also focused on Jesus, our Good Shepherd.

Lament neither gives up on hope nor does it ignore reality. It recognizes where we are and where we need to be and cries out for God to narrow that gap. In Romans 4:18, Paul uses an unusual phrase to describe Abraham’s lament: “In hope he believed against hope.” Abraham stakes his life on hope, but never takes
his eyes off reality. That’s faith expressed through lament.

Lament expresses faith in God and expects God to act. It recognizes God rightly gets the glory if the situation changes. Refusing to lament attempts to short-circuit God and attempts to limit his ability to act. It allows you to claim credit if the situation ever changes.

Writing A Lament (Adults)

The Psalmists typically follow a basic pattern when they write their laments.

Direct Address | Address God directly, expressing
dependence on him. You have nowhere else to turn; as one scholar wrote, to turn anywhere else is blasphemous idolatry.

Lament / Cry for Help | Express your specific compliant to God.
Confession of Sin / Assertion of Innocence | Sometimes you suffer because of something you’ve done. Other times you suffer because of something done to you. And other times it's a combination of both. Confessing your sin is a sign of humility; taking responsibility for another’s sin is refusal to admit hurt and can be a sign of arrogance.

Imprecation | Imprecation leaves your desires for justice, vengeance, and vindication with God, asking him to act. This side of the cross, imprecation should include a longing for repentance, meaning the punishment for the sin falls fully on the shoulders of Christ. It can also include a longing for those in authority (often the government) to execute justice.

Confidence in God’s Response | The expression of confidence in God often starts with, “But you…” This is a theologically full statement, often including applicable attributes of God.

Praise | Most laments end with a statement of praise to God.

Writing A Lament (Children)

Dear God,
You are the great king over everything and you are my father.
I need your help because, ______________________________________________.

When I think about this, I feel ___________________________________________.

Here is how I want you to help __________________________________________.

I can’t fix my problem, but you can! You are the most powerful one in the whole universe. So please help me. Please fix this. Please make it right. Thank you for listening to my prayer, my father, almighty God. Amen.

Big thanks to Elliot Grudem, Tremper Longman, and Paul Miller for this material. 

Click here to access our class material on how to lament.

 

Posted by Luke Thomas with

Encouragement for Parents during Covid-19 Quarantines and Distancing

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What a crazy week this has been! I’ve found myself mentally/physically/emotionally exhausted from the ever changing dynamics of work/home/school. All of the regular rhythms have been disrupted! Life is in kind of a chaos as each day brings a different closure or confinement. If you’re like me and love predictability and productivity, this is REALLY HARD. I feel you. I want to just invade your screen for a few minutes to encourage you that I believe this can be a super sweet time for our families. For the first time in our lives (and maybe the only time), the world is telling us to cancel all of our plans and stop. stay home. be with our people. It’s a sort of forced sabbath that many of our weary selves are probably needing whether we know it or not. No question our friends and neighbors need it too. So while we scavenge for milk and TP and try to make sure our parents understand what it means that they really shouldn’t be leaving their house, let’s not let these days get away from us. 

Cast a vision for your time: Be thinking about the end of all this (not the end of the world, the end of the Covid confinements!) in 2, 4, who knows how many weeks. What would your family hope to take away? This could be a subject of prayer, but let’s not just “survive” with our kids through this time one Disney+ viewing at a time. Maybe you’ve been needing 1:1 time with one of your children who is struggling emotionally, maybe there is a lot of tension in a relationship that needs to be worked on, or maybe you’ve desired that your family just had more spontaneous fun time together. Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. My encouragement is that you’d consider these three things as you go about your days- Work TOGETHER, play TOGETHER, rest TOGETHER!

Work together

No doubt we live in an entertainment culture where our first thoughts related to having prolonged family time are along the lines of “How in the world will I keep them entertained?! I understand totally but I’d like to challenge that in all of us by reminding you that children spell Love T-I-M-E. It’s not quality time like we are so prone to thinking, but quantity time that their hearts crave. So, invite them into your world as much as you can. The show must go on, and there are lots of dishes, loads of laundry that need to be done. Do it together! Put music on and dance to the dishes and fold laundry while someone reads a story out loud or you watch a show. We’ve got some fun resources coming your way for media to use. If your work allows it, bring them for part of the say or if you’re working from home make a little “office” for a child to sit beside you and do “work.” Letting them watch us in our attitudes toward the daily work of our lives teaches them so much about the work in theirs! 

Play together

What’s a special or fun adventure your family can do together during this time? It could look like cooking new recipes for dinner at night, planting a little garden or taking a bike ride together before meal time. I’m planning on having some tea parties for lunch or porch picnics when it’s not raining. This is a great time to break out of your normal mold and be a little spontaneous. 

Rest together

I want to encourage you to embrace your world slowing down. A restless heart can still be busy busy even when quarantined for COVID 19! Work and play are so good, but God made us needing rest. Personally, resting reminds me that the world still turns on it’s axis without me! Rest for your family might look like some time together watching TV (Yes- I said it. Don’t tell anyone). Screen time together is totally different than dropping an ipad in front of the kids and walking away (which-shhh- I’ve done that too). You can laugh about it, talk about it together and have some great conversations. Rest may also look like eating off of paper plates or getting frozen pizza so that you have time to play candyland or go for that bike ride I was talking about before. All the grace for that too! 

Finally, as you think about what these things look like in the coming days and weeks, plan out your time. Kids especially, but parents too, need structure to feel safe and secure. That’s why they’re so nuts when they’ve been at their grandparents or out of school for a few days! Sit down and write out a doable daily schedule for your time together. Then put it up somewhere that they can see it and be excited for it! Personally this type of thing helps me be accountable too so the desires of my heart can get worked out in real time. 

We are praying for you guys and are excited to see how God is going to work through these crazy times not just in the world but in our families. Share your adventures with us on social media or group texts!

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