Lament - Crying out to God in Prayer



Pushing our pain aside, hiding it, or feeling shame because of it, diminishes our human experience. If Jesus wept and cried out in anguish, why do we feel it is somehow faithless to honestly express lament?

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. (Psalm 130:1-2)



Biblical lament is an honest, vulnerable expression of pain, a crying out to God in faith as we are suffering.

If I break my arm, I cry out in pain. If I experience the breaking of a relationship, my health, a job, or finances, I cry out in lament. Both are natural responses to pain. Both are valid human emotions. Yes, both are honest reactions. Yet we don’t often make room in our lives for lament.

The Old Testament Israelites sang about the full range of human emotion in the Psalms: anger, trust, sorrow, despair, celebration, fear, longing, thanksgiving, anguish, joy, loneliness, beauty, praise, protest, love, doubt, promise, pleading, weariness, gratitude, insecurity, and hope.




Lament was a daily part of their worship, woven through the fabric of their lives. Yet 2,000 years later, we’ve grown to believe that lament reveals a lack of faith or little trust in God. Instead of expressing it, we push it away or swallow it down – but refusing to acknowledge our pain doesn’t mean it slips quietly into the night. Swallowed pain swells beneath the surface of our lives, bubbling up and out as anxiety, impatience, frustration, or anger, separating us from God and sometimes sinking us into deep depression.

True lament isn’t an expression of weakness, whining, or self-pity — it’s an authentic expression of faith.

Pushing our pain aside, covering it up, or feeling shame because we feel it, diminishes our human experience. Even Jesus cried out in pain, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46b)

If Jesus, God in human flesh, cried out in anguish in the garden of Gethsemane and from the cross, if he wept over Lazarus’ death, why do we feel it is faithless to lament? Why do we fear embracing what God so clearly expresses in His Word? 

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How to Cry Out to God in Prayer


Illness, pain, and grief are messy and complicated, yet God says, “Take heart.

Give yourself permission to lay down the “shoulds” (what you think you should feel or express) and the “should nots” (what you think you shouldn’t feel or express).

Set aside some time and space to sit quietly with these words from the Psalms. Allow them to stir your soul. Read them slowly and permit yourself to feel. When you’re ready, try your hand at Writing a Psalm of Lament.



Psalm 130:1-2

Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.


Psalm 55:1-7

Give ear to my prayer, O God,
and do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
Attend to me, and hear me;
I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily
because of the voice of the enemy,                                                             because of the oppression of the wicked;
For they bring down trouble upon me,
and in wrath they hate me.

My heart is severely pained within me,
and the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me,
and horror has overwhelmed me.
So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
Indeed, I would wander far off,
and remain in the wilderness. Selah


Psalm 77:1-2 

I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress,
I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted.


Psalm 102:1-7 

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
Because of my loud groaning
I am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become
like a bird alone on a roof


Psalm 13:1-2

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?


Psalm 116:3-4

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord;
O Lord, save me!


Psalm 57:1

Have mercy on me, O God,
have mercy on me,
for in you my soul takes refuge.
I will take refuge in the
shadow of your wings
until the disaster has passed.


Psalm 63:1 

O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.


Psalm 5:1-2

Give ear to my words, O Lord,
consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.


Psalm 88:1-3

O Lord, the God who saves me,
day and night I cry out before you.
May my prayer come before you;
turn your ear to my cry,
or my soul is full of trouble
and my life draws near the grave.


Psalm 141:1-2 

O Lord, I call to you; come quickly to me.
Hear my voice when I call to you.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands
be like the evening sacrifice.


Step in slowly. Sit with God. Allow yourself time and space to feel and experience your pain. When you’re ready, take up your pen and explore the precious and life-giving gift of lament.

Let's Pray!

Let's Pray

Let's Pray is an invitation to develop your Prayer Care Plan.

Slow down. Breathe deep and draw near to God, experiencing His presence in abundant, exceptional, and wildly generous ways.


Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is the ancient practice of slowly, contemplatively reading the words of Scripture, an invitation to encounter God through His Word, to pay close attention, and to be fully present.

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Lament Posts

“Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day...” Proverbs 25:20

Don’t Sing Happy Songs to a Heavy Heart

Singing happy songs to a heavy heart is cruel. Don’t tell grieving people that their pain is a gift or make them sing praise songs when they don’t want to. Don’t tell them that other people are suffering more than they are.


"You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend." Psalm 88:18 NLT

A Prayer of Dark Despair • When Hope Seems Lost

I find it striking that Psalm 88 includes virtually no words of reassurance. Nowhere does the psalmist add parenthetically, “But you are the Lord of mercy and compassion,” or anything else like this. Most psalms of lament include words of hope. Not Psalm 88. Here we find dark despair.


"My creativity can be an act of worship, too." Gayl Wright

Grieving with Hope • Journaling, Poetry and Lament

There are times in our lives to mourn and grieve, but it is so important not to lose hope. For those of us who know Jesus, we cling to an everlasting hope. As we grieve and mourn, let us also remember to encourage each other, to look for the joy in life no matter where we go.


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Books We Love • Lament

Discovering Hope • Beginning the Journey Toward Hope in Chronic Illness

A Sacred Sorrow: Reaching Out to God In the Lost Language of Lament

Michael Card

Have you ever thought of lament that sacred sorrow as a form of worship? God desires for us to pour out our hearts to Him, whether in joy or pain. From the example of men and women in the Bible, learn how to recover this lost language and deepen your worship of God.

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An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament

Mark Vroegop

Lament is how we bring our sorrow to God—but it is a neglected dimension of the Christian life for many of us. We need to recover the practice of honest spiritual struggle that gives us permission to vocalize our pain and wrestle with our sorrow. Lament avoids trite answers and quick solutions, progressively moving us toward deeper worship and trust.

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An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope through the Psalms of Lament

Christina Fox

For many of us, busy-ness with projects or working long hours keeps our mind off our pain. We might look at our circumstances and seek to change our situation in the hope that we will finally feel at peace once our life has changed. The question is, how often do you look to God’s Word for help and direction? How often do you turn to Him when you feel anxious, distraught, or abandoned? How often do you bring your burdens to your Savior? Take a journey of hope through the Psalms of lament.

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An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms

Glenn Pemberton

Giving new hope to the weary, this book brings insight, guiding readers to learn about the necessity of lament through the exploration of the Psalms. Many ask “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Let’s set this philosophical issue aside to consider the practical: How do believers live out faith in prolonged seasons of pain and loss? How can we live with God when it hurts–and continues to hurt?

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An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament

Aubery Sampson

When you’re in the midst of suffering, you want answers for the unanswerable, resolutions to the unresolvable. You want to tie up pain in a pretty little package and hide it under the bed, taking it out only when you feel strong enough to face it. But grief won’t be contained. Grief disobeys. Grief explodes. In one breath, you may be able to say that God’s got this and all will be well. In the next, you might descend into fatalism. No pretending. Here, you are raw before God, an open wound.

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An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith

The Hidden Face of God: Finding the Missing Door to the Father Through Lament

Michael Card

Most of us, at some point, experience the sense of God’s absence. The author says that rather than letting the distance widen, this is exactly the time for a deeper pursuit of God. The method he proposes is recovery of the profound, biblical practice of lament.

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