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There is a Prayer for When Everything is Falling Apart

The prayers of lament are the prayers of darkness. Theologian Barbara Brown Taylor defines darkness as “everything I do not know, cannot control, and am often afraid of.” They are our prayers when everything is at stake.


Make Your Face Shine by Lisle Gwynn Garrity

Typically, our first inclination is to run from and hide from the dark. We’re afraid of the dark. Darkness is our nightmare. We’ve been taught to fear it, to avoid it, to keep the lights on, to think happy thoughts, to pretend everything’s all right, and to not go into “that dark place.”


But the prayers of lament, rather than avoid it, jump into the darkness. They go to the unthinkable places, the ones we’d much rather avoid; they name the unnamable; they put words to our deepest pain and our greatest longing.


They offer us a way to tell our secrets to God – the hidden, dark, painful, needy secrets that we prefer not to have or at least not to acknowledge.


There’s nothing polite about such prayers; they are not well thought out they are not rehearsed over and over again. They are simply brutally honest, the cry of one’s heart.


And yet, such prayers are faithful prayers. Their mere presence in scripture is a reminder of that. But even more, most of the prayers of lament, such as Psalm 42 that we looked at last week, make a turn towards hope. Even though nothing about an outward circumstance changes, the psalmist clings to hope.


But two psalms do not make such a turn, including Psalm 88.


There’s no happy ending, the psalm simply ends leaving us wanting something more, some resolution, some hope. But there is none.


Yet again, the existence of such a prayer in scripture suggests that it too is faithful. Perhaps it’s presence in the book of Psalms even reminds us that unresolved despair is itself a legitimate aspect of our life with God. And so, maybe Psalm 88 becomes your prayer when it seems as if everything is falling apart.


Or maybe you have never felt such despair. That’s okay. Perhaps you can pray Psalm 88 on behalf of someone who does know such despair, perhaps someone living in a war zone, or a child unsure of where their next meal may come from, or an individual facing a life altering diagnosis.


Because there is a prayer for the darkness, and for when everything is falling apart.


Grace and peace,



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