A Prayer of Lament

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Psalm 86. A Psalm where David finds himself in a difficult situation. He’s in trouble, so calls out in a prayer of lament.

It’s an honest cry from the heart, offered in desperate situations but not out of desperation, from people trying to navigate through these times. This is very relevant for us in the current situation.

Five common features of a lament:

  • Turning to God
  • A complaint/problem/distress explained
  • A bold plea for help made
  • A declaration of trust affirmed
  • An expression of praise offered


Our great needs should drive us to pray to our great God

"Hear me, Lord, and answer me"

Psalm 86:1

David turned immediately to God – this should be our first action in times of need.

“You can do more than pray after you have prayed but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed” – John Bunyon

How would you describe God during this current crisis?

God never changes (Exodus 34:6-7a)

David’s cry to God is relentless. This crisis is consuming him, yet he acknowledges that God is compassionate, abounding in love, and slow to anger.

"You, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness"

Psalm 86:15

During this pandemic can we join with David to express God’s goodness?

God is unrivalled

"For you are great and perform wonderous deeds. You alone are God."

Psalm 86:10

The situation threatens to crush David, but he has a deep appreciation of God, and believes his God is bigger than his situation. Our need is great: our God is greater. As we lament, let’s keep our eyes fixed firmly on our God and praise Him.

"You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abundant in love to all who call to you"

Psalm 86:5

God is trustworthy

David doesn’t hold back from asking help. He puts forward eight petitions and requests to God:

  • Hear me
  • Answer me
  • Guard my life
  • Save me
  • Have mercy on me
  • Bring joy to me
  • Hear my prayer
  • Listen to my cry

His mindset and attitude is trust. He is choosing to place his trust in God

The wisdom literature of the Bible tells us repeatedly trust in God with all your heart and lean not on our own understanding

Are we at risk of wavering, holding back and not bringing everything to God? Is our confidence in God during this time?

What are you learning about God at this difficult time?

"Teach me your way, Lord"

Psalm 86:11

David is keen to learn. He asks God to teach him his ways and submits to God.

We often learn most at difficult times – painful lessons can be life altering. Are you willing to learn from God during this time?

How is your heart?

"Grant me purity of heart so that I may honour you"

Psalm 86:11

David asks for an undivided heart – a heart that is fully committed to God (2 Chronicles 16:9). A divided heart is less than fully committed: less likely to trust, prone to wonder, susceptible to corruption. Whenever you’re in a crisis you are at risk of losing heart, dividing your heart.

Our great needs should drive us to pray to our great God

This is a time to pray – to lament.

Here are some things to consider this week:

  • How would you describe God during this current crisis?
  • What are you learning about God at this difficult time?
  • How is your heart?
  • Read Psalm 86 each day this week
  • Write your own lament as a declaration of trust and an expression of praise
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