Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. –Matthew 5: 6 & 7
When things get hard in my life, like when several of my special needs kids hit challenging growth spurts at the same time, and I am exhausted, and literally hungry and thirsty from not being able to take care of myself in a timely manner, and I know that I need God but cannot muster the politesse that I have been shamed into believing I need, I go to God in lament.
Lament is an old word for praying when you’ve hit a wall, reached rock bottom, been done wrong, can’t even, or when you’re miserable. It’s not a bad or lesser way to pray. Sometimes it’s saltier, though.
When I get into a hard place, I find myself having to beat away illusory obstacles to prayer. I’m not good enough to pray or coherent enough or polite enough. I’m too embarrasing to pray. I’m too jacked up and flat out rude and fed up to pray. I don’t have anything nice to pray and should not say anything at all. I can’t even imagine what God could do about any of it. I don’t know if it will matter if God popped up in a glorious mandala and revealed all, because I’m too tired to do anything about it if He did.
But none of these excuses take away my need for God. So I say, “Be that as it may, I need you.” Or I holler, “I don’t know what to do!” Or I cuss outright about being done wrong or not being able to get it right. (I’m not saying you should cuss. I’m saying it’s better to cuss to God than to not pray.)
Sometimes my needs go beyond a temperate desire for mercy and right into hangriness for righteousness. I want God to put me right, to heal and mend right now, to show me the way even though I’m too sleepy or my eyes are too puffy from crying to look.
Well, I’m not the first one to pray like that. The Psalms are filled with rejoicing and reveling in God’s goodness, and they’re also filled with laments.
This Lent, for the first time, I’m part of an Orthodox women’s Psalter group. In years past, I wasn’t excited about the Psalms because I shamed myself out of feeling ok about the way I pray when things get hard. This year, though, when an Instagram friend invited me into her Psalter group, my heart was ready. I need a deep watering of the roots of my heart. I’m thirsty for God, and at last I feel brave enough to admit that God is the best food for those who are hangry for His rule.
Good Lent to y’all!
I’m reading from The Ancient Faith Psalter (Amazon Affiliate link), but I have also heard beautiful reviews of Songs of Praise: A Psalter Devotional for Orthodox Women (link to Ancient Faith store). While you’re gathering books, don’t forget to check out my book, Of Such is the Kingdom: A Practical Theology of Disability (Amazon affiliate link), available wherever books are sold or through your local library.
Are you reading more this Lent? Comment to talk about it!