Praying Like Habakkuk

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Where is God in a land of confusion?

Many people are asking what God is doing about all the injustices going on in our world right now.

We learn from Habakkuk that talking to God about such things things is vital, and prayer is the vehicle for doing this. Therefore, be encouraged that you have somewhere to go to in this land of confusion – to the God of creation.

Little is known about the prophet Habakkuk, his life or ministry.

“It is best to remain ambivalent about the meaning of Habakkuk’s name, as it carries neither interpretive significance for the book nor a clue to the life and ministry of the prophet” – Heath Thomas

Habakkuk begins his dialogue by complaining. Through prayers of lament he challenges God because he is confused and distressed about all the violence and injustice he sees with life in Israel.

Some people believe that questioning God displays a lack of faith and trust. However, as we engage with what Habakkuk prays we will:

  • gain more insight into the appropriate nature of lament prayer
  • realise how lament prayers were a tool of choice that kept the dialogue of human and divine alive in scripture
  • see how lament prayer is a sign of faithfulness and not faithlessness
  • discover that lament is a sign for healthy spirituality
  • know that to speak up to God in this way is to believe that he cares, he listens and is willing to take in the full spectrum of our emotions

 

Questioning is part and parcel of human life and Christian faith. Throughout the Bible we find people asking God questions all the time (e.g. Jer 20:18, Ps 10:1, Matt 27:46).

  • Asking God questions, is typically human, and this practice reveals a deep and utter dependence upon the creator

 

Habakkuk wasn’t afraid to ask God questions and neither should we be. He turns to God in prayer because that is where he can turn, should turn and must turn.

God is big enough and dependable enough to take our questions and deal with them.

In Habakkuk’s opening questions (vv.1-3) he uses two phrases or words that are characteristic of many laments, and which also frame most of the questions we ask of God:

How long? – How long before something changes?

Why? – Why is this happening, not happening or allowed to happen?

What is your ‘How long’ or ‘Why’ question to God at the moment? Why not name one of each, write it down and share it with God.

As Habakkuk did this, his concern was with the apparent silence and inactivity of God, who appeared to be on mute and doing nothing in his world (v.2). When we start thinking like this, we give up on God and cut back or stop praying dramatically.

As Habakkuk looked around his world, he saw injustice and simply couldn’t work out what God was doing or why he was allowing this to happen.

"How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds."

Habakkuk 1:2-3

Habakkuk could have given up hope and turned away from God who appeared silent and inactive, but he didn’t. Instead he gets down on his knees in a lament prayer to God because he wants to see change; he wants God to listen and to act. Habakkuk’s hope in God to eradicate injustice and put wrong things to right inspires him to pray and dialogue with Him.

We should do the same when we are confused about what is happening in our lives or see injustice of any kind in our world. Whenever we experience pain or suffering, the thing we must do is pray honestly for God to intervene – pray like Habakkuk.

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