Theology of Prayer: Scriptural Support (Part 16: Lamentations)

Lamentations is a book that laments the fall and destruction of Jerusalem. It is not unlike the lament psalms found in Psalms. This book ends in tragedy, and it expresses the broken spirit of the people. It is filled with frank speech, yet it mostly is declarative of what happened.

Lamentations 1 is declarative. Yet, it makes a request:

See, Lord, how distressed I am! I am in torment within, and in my heart I am disturbed, for I have been most rebellious. Outside, the sword bereaves; inside, there is only death. . . . May you bring the day you have announced so they may become like me. Let all their wickedness come before you; deal with them as you have dealt with me because of all my sins. My groans are many and my heart is faint. (Lam 1:20-22)

Lamentations 2 is declarative. Yet, it too makes a request: “Look, Lord, and consider: Whom have you ever treated like this? Should women eat their offspring, the children they have cared for? Should priest and prophet be killed in the sanctuary of the Lord?” (Lam 2:20). This prayer is declaration, request, and frank.

A glimpse of hope is offered in Lam 3:

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young. . . . For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (Lam 3:24-33)

. It further declares:

Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord. Let us lift up our hearts and our hands to God in heaven, and say: “We have sinned and rebelled and you have not forgiven. You have covered yourself with anger and pursued us; you have slain without pity. You have covered yourself with a cloud so that no prayer can get through. You have made us scum and refuse among the nations. (Lam 3:40-45)

. In the end, it requests divine retribution.

Continuing the declaration side of prayer, Lam 4 makes no request but is frank until the end.

Unlike Lam 4, Lam 5 makes a request for the Lord to remember his people in their oppressive plight, and declares in the end that the Lord reigns before asking, “Why do you always forget us? Why do you forsake us for long? (Lam 5:20). The prayer than requests for restoration and renewal (Lam 5:21). Again, here we see prayer as declaration, request, and inquiry.

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