Lament

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Things don’t always go the way we want them to.  Hard times come.  Bad things happen.  Plenty of bad things happened to Jeremiah, and in the GPS guide this week at Resurrection, we will read about some of his hard times.

If we are in a relationship with God, having daily conversations in prayer, what do we do when we don’t like what is going on in our life?  Do we just pretend everything is fine?  Can we complain to God, even express our anger and frustration at the way things are going in our lives?

Jeremiah did. And so did the psalmists. They wrote “laments,” which were intimate conversations with God in which they did not hold anything back.  They said things like:

“I yell out to my God, I yell with all my might, I yell at the top of my lungs. He listens” (Psalm 77:1 The Message) or

“You pushed me into this, God, and I let you do it.” (Jeremiah 20:7 The Message)

Both Psalm 77 and Jeremiah 20:7-13 are great examples of what it is like to unload your fears and frustrations to God.

If the weight of hard times is bearing down on you, if you are frustrated and frightened by your circumstances, writing a prayer of lament can be a great way to clear your head and open your heart to God’s help and healing.  Don’t hold back. If you are angry, say so. Then, when you’ve gotten it all out, when you’ve really “let God have it,” spend some time in silence and meditate on who God is.  Read the last parts of Psalm 77 and Jeremiah 20:7-13.

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord…I will consider all your works and meditate on all  your mighty deeds…..You are the God who performs miracles….” (Pslam 77:11, 12, 14)

“But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior…” (Jeremiah 20:11)

Finish your prayer talking to God about what you hear in your time of listening and meditation.  I pray that in your time of lament, you find God’s power, peace, hope, and strength to face the hard times in your life.

Jennifer Creagar, Prayer Ministry

Listening

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Over the next four weeks at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, we will be learning about Jeremiah, God’s prophet who lived through times of war, want, and fear. Through all the trials, Jeremiah heard God’s voice.  He listened for God.

When you pray, do you really listen for God to speak to you, or do you do all the talking? I found a list of “Ways To Be a Good Listener” and many of the points speak to how we should listen in our conversations with God.

  • Don’t focus on how what the other person (in this case, God) is saying will impact you. Don’t interject your own thoughts.
  • Create a mental and physical space that is conducive to listening. Get rid of distractions.
  • Practice “summarize and restate.” If it helps, write down what you hear God saying. Ask God to tell you if this is, indeed what God wanted you to hear.
  • Ask meaningful questions. Seek answers using the tools God gave us for discernment: Scripture, especially Jesus teaching, wise counsel of trusted friends and spiritual guides, and yes, even more listening!
  • Wait.  This is the hard one.  In Jeremiah 42:7, we see that Jeremiah waited ten days for an answer from God. Don’t always expect an instant, easy answer.  Read Psalms 27:14, 33:7, 37:7, 38:15, and 40:1 for encouragement while you wait.
  • Be thankful and responsive.  Offer praise and thanks for God’s constant presence in your life and for the promises that God will speak to us and answer our prayers.

In hard times, Jeremiah listened and God spoke.  He heard God’s promise for a future with hope. If you practice being a good listener in your conversation with God, you will also hear that promise.

– Jennifer Creagar, Prayer Ministry & Congregational Care


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