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The Beauty Of Lament

Encouraging Prayer / James Banks
The Truth Network Radio
December 2, 2023 12:00 pm

The Beauty Of Lament

Encouraging Prayer / James Banks

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December 2, 2023 12:00 pm

In this episode of Encouraging Prayer, James Banks and Robby Dilmore, discuss the beauty of lament. 

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On Encouraging Prayer, Dr. James Banks, author of the best-selling Prayers for Prodigals and many other books on prayer, provides weekly biblical insight to help you learn to love to pray. And now, here's James. Let's go ahead and jump in.

Well, here we are. Can you believe that we're already in December? It's also the Advent season. It's a time where we celebrate not only that Jesus came, but that he's coming back. And I love this time of year. It is probably my favorite time of year, but it's also a difficult time for a lot of people, isn't it, Robbie?

Oh, that's right. If you had something difficult happen at this time of year, it has a way of attaching itself so that everything reminds you of it. You know, probably, because it's supposed to be such a happy time, but when you're going through something challenging and others around you are celebrating, you know, that's hard.

Yeah, it is. And that's why, and here we're finally getting to it, we're going to talk about the beauty of lament this morning. Let me seem like a funny way to put it, but please listen. If your heart is hurting, if you feel like no one understands, there's only one place where you can go, and that is to Jesus. Because he's able to completely understand and to comfort us in the most difficult, unexplainable places. And I'm saying this not because I'm a pastor who writes books on prayer, and it's what you'd expect me to say. I'm saying it because I've seen it in others' lives, people who have gone through so much worse than I have, but I've also experienced it in my own heart and life. You know, James, if you think about it, one of the prayers from Scripture that you most hear at Advent is, Come soon, Lord Jesus. And that's actually a prayer of lament in a lot of ways, isn't it?

Yeah, it is if you think about it. When we pray that way, we're often looking at the brokenness of the world around us. It's a cry from the heart for God to save us, not just from what's going on around us, but from our own struggles and sins as well, what's going on inside of us. And that's the thing about lament prayers.

They really are an inside job, if you will. God will move through them into deep places of our hearts and souls, so deep that you don't even need words to pray that way. Oh, I'd like to hear some more about that. Recently, I was lamenting a situation that I was going through with someone I love, and it was really a hard time. And I'd wake up in the middle of the night, and you know how that is. You're just thinking about it. You lose sleep.

You can't think of anything else. And you start turning something over in your heart and mind, maybe start asking something like, Was I wrong about this, Lord? And I think this especially happens when we've been deeply hurt.

And by the way, that's another reason why it's good to talk about this at this time of year, because so many people go through family drama and stuff like that that goes deep. But as I laid there that night trying to sort things out, but really unable to, I just laid my soul bare before the Lord. I just gave him the whole mess and prayed Jesus, just his name, because I didn't know what else to pray. And I wanted him to come into the situation, and I didn't know how to process what was going on, but I knew that he knew. And I realized as I was praying that way that I was actually in a beautiful place. I had stepped out of the hurt and confusion for a moment, and I was in a place where God could draw near and actually start doing the work of restoring my soul. And that's why, and there's a time where I never thought I would say this, but I really love lament. It's a powerful, beautiful thing when we draw near to God, and better still when he draws near to us.

Oh man, is that true. And I think we can pass this over too easily, really, but the truth is that believers in Jesus are going to go through times when they're not happy, and that's where it's good to go to him and cast our cares on him. And not only that, but stay there with him. Yeah, that's just it, Rami. Jesus prayed this way, you know. He prayed over Jerusalem, lamenting they wouldn't come to God. He prayed this way in the Garden of Gethsemane, giving himself completely to the Father. He prayed that way from the cross. The words of Psalm 22, my God, why have you forsaken me? Lamenting is actually a really important part of praying in the Bible, and there are lots of prayers of lament. Not just in Psalms, but in Exodus and Ecclesiastes and Jeremiah, and of course the whole book of Lamentations, and even the revelation with the prayer, how long, oh Lord. Good point, and what's amazing about all that is we can do it.

The fact that there's so much prayer like this in Scripture shows us that God wants us to pray that way, and we really can come to him with our deepest hurts. Yeah, we can. So let's talk for a moment about how to do this. Not that there's a right way and a wrong way, but just to really pray this way, there are some things that are helpful.

Yeah, let's go ahead. Well, one of the main things is it takes time. You know, you can't just whip out a lament prayer and then go about your way.

You have to sit down and cry, if you will. You have to get before God and do nothing else other than bury your soul before him, and that's why it often happens in the middle of the night, because that's when there's so much that can come flooding in because we have the time. Oh yeah, I've experienced that, and it's so helpful, but what else?

Well, don't worry about the words that you use. You know, just be entirely yourself before God because he sees and knows it all anyhow, and that's a good thing because that means you don't have to explain everything to him. I love that because if we had to explain everything to God the way we have to to someone else, it would take a lot of time and energy and maybe even confusion. Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly, and here's the last thing that I think really helps. Read out some of the laments from the Psalms.

Read them aloud if you like. See how David does it, and that will often give our hearts good paths to run in. Just jump into the Psalms, skim through them until you land on one. You know, Psalm 5 or Psalm 10 or Psalm 12. I like Psalm 38 and 9. All my longings lie open before you.

My sighing is not hidden from you. Or Psalm 30 says in one place, out of the depths I cry to you, Lord. But again, as you do that, remember it's not the words God wants, but our hearts. So what matters is that we need to humble ourselves before him, you know, lay ourselves open, ask for his help and his way, and when we pray this way, we'll find that he really does need us, and that's a very good place to be.

Yeah, there's no better place to be, really, but we're out of time, so I guess we need to pray. So Lord, thank you so much for James' understanding that you've given him on lamenting, and I pray that you would open our hearts to these possibilities when we're laying there in the middle of the night, or our situation where we don't know where else to turn. Lord, remind us to turn to you and just give it to you and help us to be open and go into the places of our heart to open them to you that we might enjoy your presence there, and you can provide understanding that we have no other access to. Lord, we thank you that we know you really do care about everything, and we pray that you would help us to get there. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Amen. You can hear more from Pastor James by visiting his website, jamesbanks.org, or by visiting Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina. May God bless you and encourage you as you pray. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-02 14:14:23 / 2023-12-02 14:18:18 / 4

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