Elijah’s is the human experience. We regularly set out in faith...
yet find ourselves wondering if that hope was foolish,
especially when the journey takes a long time.
All this week, begin in silence, turning your attention to God. God’s clear promise is to be with us always. Most of us still find it challenging to stay aware of and connected to that reality. Brother Lawrence spoke of “practicing” the presence of God in the hope that awareness of God’s presence and companionship would increasingly pervade his every waking moment. As you “practice” awareness of God with you, use your body and your surroundings to help you. Opening your hands (palms up) in your lap can signal receptivity. Lighting a candle can remind you of the Invisible Other, God in the room with you. Enjoy God as God enjoys you.
Strengthened by that food, (Elijah) traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
1 Kings 19:8
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.
With the perspective of history, we know that Elijah’s journey to Mt. Horeb was leading him toward resilience, a return to the purposes of God for him after a time of desperately wanting to give up. Nonetheless it was still a long, hard journey! Forty days and forty nights of strenuous travel. Forty days and forty nights to reflect on how difficult his life had become. Forty days and forty nights of high stakes wondering about whether God would come through for him, whether there really would be fresh energy and a fresh start. Elijah’s is the human experience. We regularly set out in faith...yet find ourselves wondering if that hope was foolish, especially when the journey takes a long time.
The Psalmist offers words well-suited to that space of wondering and waiting. One of the many Psalms of Lament, “How long? How long? How long?”, could easily have been Elijah’s refrain to God during his 40-day journey. Prayers of Lament fit the journey of return from depletion. They are honest prayers, from the depths appealing to God to meet real needs in a way consistent with God’s character.
Many of us are learning to pray with lament amidst the sorrow and injustice in the world and in our own lives, but prayers of lament aren’t always easy prayers to pray. Prayers of Lament often feel “messy,” possibly even disrespectful to God. Scholars and those well-practiced in lament invite us to see it with a different frame. Coming to God with lament actually affirms our intimate connection to God and our understanding of God’s character. Because we know of God’s great love and trust that God cares deeply about us and our cares, we cry out to God for what we need (e.g. comfort, restoration, justice,...) (For more on Lament, you might enjoy this article: Five Things to Know About Lament)
Do you have a Prayer of Lament for God as you journey toward resilience and the hope of returning to energy for and connection to your purpose in the world? Take Psalm 13 as a guide today. Personalize it for your circumstances. Tell God how you feel...what you need...and what you are counting on in God’s character to show itself in your life.
Scripture wisely instructs us to make the spiritual journey with others for the help and support of companionship. As you invest time in personal reflection, invest also in communal connection. Join our 12 PM Zoom Challenge Gathering today (and everyday, Monday - Friday) and/or with your household, your small group, a friend,...
- Read the article linked here on Lament and share your reflections.
- Talk about your experiences with Prayers of Lament. What have you appreciated about praying in this way? What has felt difficult about it?
- Consider sharing your personalized version of Psalm 13 with someone you trust to hear your heart.
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