Nov 9, 2012

Prayer of Lament: How long is this night?


Here’s a prayer of lament written for a Blue Christmas service, but appropriate on other occasions as well.  It was posted on the Disruptive Grace blog. 

Prayer of Lament

Weeping may go on all night,
but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5

Holy and Merciful God,

Your scriptures tell us that weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  Yet how long is this night, O Lord?  How long will this dark night of the soul be?  We have no explanation for what brings us here tonight.  We can do nothing else than endure in this deepest and most painful of mysteries.  We believe in you, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and resurrecter of Jesus Christ.  We also believe, with equal and perhaps even greater conviction, that we have experienced some things that have been truly traumatic and disturbing. 

We are at a loss.  We cannot explain nor justify why you would allow these things to happen to us, and when we hear these justifications they do not solve the mystery, or take away the pain.  They say that a true friend is one who is willing to tell you the truth.  Our truth is a question, God, to which we do not know the answer.  Our question is this:  why God?  Why? 

Why would you allow such a thing to happen?

And why would you allow us to be wounded?

Like Job, we can find no fault in ourselves for this suffering, though many voices inside and outside want to blame us.  Like Israel, we cannot simply put our tragedy behind us, but we have to tell the story of when it happened, where it happened, how it happened.  Like you … You know this darkness, Lord, for you allowed it to have its way with you on the cross.  You prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that it might not be so.  And yet you faced it, for our sake.  You not only died, but descended into hell.

Lord Christ, you know our suffering deeper than we know it.  You rose from the dead, but you still carried your wounds.  You asked Thomas to come and touch them, so that he might believe.  Can you teach us how to bear our wounds to you?  We do not want our pain to close us off from you or from others any longer.

Your presence is the only thing that sustains us, and so allow us to be present to you in our pain.   Your strength was shown in weakness, and so we come to you in our weakness.  And so our weeping tarries for this night, but may joy come in the morning.  Death and destruction come for us all, we cannot deny them or the wounds they have left.  But we shall not let them have the last word, because you did not let them have the last word.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.