Welcome to church today and to a whole new sermon series. As I promised last month over this holiday period we are going to look at prayer. In particular we are going to look at prayers of lament from the book of Psalms.
Now the prayers of lament in the Bible aren’t really that well known. Nor would I suggest are they that regularly used. For most of us our prayer life consists in the neumonic ACTS i.e.: adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. This means that we adore God and praise him for who he is. We confess our need for forgiveness and our lack of righteousness. We thank him for all His blessings to us and we ask for those things we need. (To be honest I can be pretty heavy on the S and a bit lean on the A, C and T. I am, like all of us, a work in progress). Now the only problem with that summary to our prayer life is it leaves out lament. (Maybe we should have ACTLS or LACTS).
The lament psalms constitute the biggest category of the book of Psalms. They are psalms /prayers in which an individual or a community come before God and ask him why. Why are you so far from us? Why are we suffering? When will this end? These are the questions that the lamenter asks. Now these may, or may not, be your questions. For some of you I have no doubt they are. Faced with the inexplicable facts of life, with disappointment, anxiety or frustration they are very pertinent. For some of you, it will be a little more distant. You will know people in just this situation. These then will be prayers you can pray for them or with them. For some they will have no relevance or no present relevance. All of us, at some part in life, will wonder why God is doing this or that. Why he doesn’t provide? or explain? or resolve? an issue. These then are prayers to hide in your heart, to come back to later.
So over the next three weeks we will look at the prayers of lament. I will introduce the series by looking at Psalm 77. We will then look at one of the individual lament psalms i.e.: Psalm 13. We will then look at a corporate lament psalm i.e.: Psalm 80. If you are interested here is the list: Individual Ps 3 – 7, 11, 13, 17, 22 & 23, 27, 30, 31, 32, 35, 39, 51, 57, 63 69, 71, 91, 102, 103, 130. Community: 44, 60, 74, 77, 79, 80, 83, 85, 90, 94, 123, 126, 137. Lots really.
Is this depressing? I don’t think so. The great fact in all these psalms is that we have a God who is big enough and robust enough to hear our honest prayers. We don’t need to curry favour with Him. We don’t need to butter him up so he will bless us. He is not capricious but faithful, loving, gracious and kind. It is on the cross that Jesus prays a psalm of lament. It is in Christ that we can be sure that God has not forgotten to be gracious to us, that his steadfast love is assured to us forever when we put our trust in his Son. I hope you find the series helpful. I certainly did and have no doubt that one day they will be very useful. God bless, Stuart