At the beginning of Lent, a team of people from my church put up an amazing “Lament Wall” in the courtyard. People were invited to write down prayers and laments on pieces of paper and stick them in the cracks of the wall. Prayers written during church services were stuck in there, joined later by prayers written by the elementary schoolers involved in the church’s afterschool program.
There are so many prayers in there. It’s beautiful, and heavy.
I had the privilege of teaming up with Sue Kesler to write a “Prayers of the People” kind of prayer based on a lot of the prayers in the wall. I wanted to share with you what we came up with, because, while it’s based on the prayers of our particular community, most of the cries of our hearts are not unique to us. We are not alone.
Here’s the prayer; the words in bold are meant as a kind of response, read together by the congregation. Peace to you this Good Friday.
Prayers of the People (Lament Wall Prayer) God, as we come together in this space, hear our prayers of lament. Thank you for holding and treasuring every prayer we’ve put in the lament wall and every prayer we hold in our hearts. God, our wounds are real, both the physical ones and the ones that are harder to see. We long for your healing, comforting touch. We ask for your special nearness to those who have cancer. We ask for your special nearness to those whose family or other loved ones have cancer. God, would your loving presence be so near to the kids among us whose parents are sick — so near that they can reach out and touch you. Wrap them with your love like a big bear hug. God, you are our strength and provider. You are our healer. Show yourself to us. God, for the emotional wounds we carry and often feel we need to hide. That you would lead us into safe spaces where we can reveal them and be loved into wholeness — a healing that isn’t rushed but is patient, however long it takes. You know how we have been hurt. You know how we hurt, still. For all those who are tired, discouraged, and afraid, hold us. Breathe new life through your Spirit who lives in and among us. God, you are near to the brokenhearted. Lift up, comfort, and empower us. God, we pray for the relationships that are broken, difficult, or not what we hoped they might be. For the families among us who are estranged and long for reconciliation. For the relationships that come with tension — we long for patience, understanding, and grace. For relationships that are changing, we ask for peace — for comfort in the grief that comes with loss, and for joy in the new things. God, just as you have reconciled all to yourself, help us in the healing of relationships, especially in our families. God, you join together what was separate and restore what was broken. Make a way for us to live in peace with one another. God, we ask for your presence with those who are in grief. We remember those we have lost. Give us space, gentleness, and safety — to name our griefs, make room for them, and not run from them. Unite in love the families and friends who experience loss together. Help us help one another in our grief. In the rough mornings and in the evenings full of tears, be with us. Give us songs of lament that we can sing and know that we are heard. Make room for our sadness. God, you mourn with those who mourn. There is no tear we’ve shed that you haven’t seen. You are big enough to hold our grief. God, we lift up to you the material needs among us. For those who need work, and for those who long for greater purpose in work. We pray for those starting new jobs. For those who need financial breakthrough. For those who need a car. For those who need a place to live. God, all money belongs to you. Please meet our financial needs, so that we are better able to meet the needs of others. God, please supply the work of our hands that is needed by all. God, you know our needs. Take care of us, and help us take care of one another. God, even as we long for justice, we lament our complicity with injustice. Please forgive us for ignoring your pleading voice, calling us not up and out of, but instead, down and into. We lament our failure to acknowledge the stolen land we live on and the indigenous peoples around and among us. We lament the ways we hoard instead of share. The ways we compete rather than support. The ways we exclude rather than include. The ways we act like there isn’t enough to go around. Our callousness to injustice and violence. God, bring justice to all and for all. Make us aware of our complicity in injustice so that we can repent of it and move beyond it. Make us new. God, we long for transformation. For the grace to accept your blessings and rejoice in them. To move beyond lament to repair and reconciliation. To be filled with a kind of love beyond what we’ve been able to muster up on our own. When we are humbled, help us receive it as a gift from you. Move us from entitlement to gratitude and generosity. Transform how we consume. Help us recognize your voice and be able to clearly hear what you are saying to us. God, you are always changing us. Help us be willing to be changed. God, we lift up our hopes to you. Our hopes to travel. Our hopes for a dream job. For those who hope to be parents, please bless them with children. We hope for safety — for all of us and especially for the children and youth among us. Bless our young people as you ready them to be the new voice in your world. We hope for peace. God, you hold our hopes, the ones named here and the ones in our hearts. Help us hold tight to your hope and extend that hope to others. God, we thank you. For the ways community has shown up for us. For the ways we’ve been welcomed. For the ways you’ve helped us and helped those we love. For the ways our gifts have blessed others. For your promises that have come true in our lives. For bringing us together into this community. Your blessings are countless. Thank you. May our gratefulness overflow. God, every good gift comes from you. Thank you. Holy God, we praise you and we praise your name. Help us to live lives that praise you.