There was a tradition in a segment of Psalms referred to as the lament psalms. It was the pouring out of one's grief with all its ugliness to God. It was often in response to great loss, death, war, captivity and often gave voice to great despair and anger. In all the rawness that could be mustered, the psalmist would pour out the inner caldron of vitriol.
(some may fit in more than one category of Psalm)
Community: 12, 44, 58, 60, 74, 79, 80, 83, 85, 89, 90, 94, 123, 126, 129
Individual: 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 17, 22, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 36, 39, 41, 42, 43, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59, 61, 64, 70, 71, 77, 86, 89, 120, 139, 141, 142
Repentance: 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143, 69, 83, 88, 109, 137, 140
Demand for Justice: 35, 69, 83, 88, 109, 137, 140
Partial List thanks to Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2014, Dennis Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
God could take it. God wasn’t intimidated or insulted by the expression of bitterness, accusation, and anger, often directed at him. In a real sense, they prayed their anger and rage to God and felt no need to sanitize or spiritualized it. No need to adorn it with religious finery (while stuffing their heartbreak - for it only to manifest in other unhealthy ways). It was an exchange of sorts - a safe place to be honest, very human, trusting God to be able to handle and meet them in their deepest fear and pain.
To lament is to feel your full humanity
- Rob Bell
Typically, there is a structure to a Psalm of Lament. In very simple terms; the temptest - the expression of grief, injustice, fear, and anger. A pleading of one's case or for mercy or justice and then the relenting. This is when in a sense exhausted, we fall into the hesed - faithfulness of God.
We can do this today. We can pray our angst in its rawest and bitterest forms along with its rage and evens its accusations of God herself. God meets us in what is real - not in some “sanitized for your protection” piety. To be honest, I need a God that can meet me in those times - when I am a mess of tangled emotions - in my real life lament.
My friend Mac, in his work Fugazi, expresses a lament - a lament that many of us may be able to intimately identify with. Notice that Mac's poem seems to follow the same structure of a lament psalm. I am convinced that the most Holy and healing prayers are those that are genuine. I hope Mac’s lament gives you permission towards authenticity and the hidden blessing that can be found in expressing our hurt and pain in prayer, safe in the loving arms of God.