How to Pray During Life’s Darkest Moments

Prayers of grief, loss or betrayal—laments—are thoroughly biblical ways to talk to God.

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How to pray your grief to God

Today’s guest blogger is Sue Schlesman.

Have you ever complained to God? Have you ever cried out to Him in anger? Grief? Frustration? Have you ever felt that desperate?

It might seem unspiritual, but it’s a thoroughly biblical way to pray. It’s called a lament. It’s a prayer from the gut, not the head. Laments escape during the darkest moments of life—after betrayal, loss or grief. Laments require boxes of tissues. They don’t need words.

I’ve lamented a good bit—sometimes months at a time—just processing grief and heartache with the One who understands me best. When I lament, I find someplace quiet to sit in God’s presence, to cry and groan. (Paul says that the Holy Spirit interprets wordless prayers to the Father; see Romans 8:26.) Sometimes I grumble or rage at Him. (Job and Moses did that; see Job 7:7-21 and Exodus 17:4.)

Sometimes I form questions that never get answered. (David was a pro at this; see Psalm 13:1-2.) Even Jesus cried out in desperation, quoting David’s words in Psalm 22:1-2. This is lamenting.

Ultimately, a lament is a prayer that acknowledges one’s dependence and vulnerability. It requires faith to cry out—not just cry—and helps release anxiety over things we cannot control.

Here are a few things you can include in a lament:

  • How you feel—why you’re upset, worried, afraid, angry or hurt
  • What you believe about God—who He is and what He has already promised you
  • What you expected Him to do that He hasn’t done (at least, not yet)

God doesn’t necessarily provide the answers you want. He is the answer. And He will lead you through the darkness, by the hand, until you come into the light again. You will learn how to hope and believe again after you’ve spent some time in this lamentation zone.

And you will change. How? By crying out to God, you are shifting from depending on just you to depending on Him and His plan for you, even though you don’t know what that plan is. (Hint: the plan is actually you.)

This is the miracle of the lament. It’s the change that happens within you.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.” (Psalm 34:17-18)

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