How Long, O Lord?
Here are some worship resources suitable for use in a time of personal or corporate lament.
Prayer of Lament (inspired by Psalm 77:1-20)
God, we call out to you!
From the depths of our hearts, we cry,
“Lord, hear our prayer!”
We are consumed by grief.
The events of the past few days have overwhelmed us—
it’s hard to sleep,
it’s hard to eat,
it’s even hard to pray.
Where are you, God?
Deep down, we know that you love us—
we’ve experienced your mercy and your faithfulness in the past,
and it has sustained us through many difficult times.
We refuse to believe that you have deserted us,
or that you are unaware of the pain that we’re feeling.
And so we turn to you again,
longing for your presence,
looking for your comfort and peace.
Surround us with your unfailing love.
Remind us that you alone are God,
and that you hold us in the palm of your hand.
Give us courage and strength to face the days ahead,
and strengthen us in the knowledge that we do not face them alone.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, we pray.
~ Christine Longhurst
Prayer for Mercy
God of love, God of mercy, God of all power!
Why do you let your people die—
your people whom you have redeemed?
Why do you let the earth suffer—
the earth you have created in your sovereign power?
Lord, look and see the misery of the famine that is ravaging your people;
Look and see these children, these women and men,
who are dying of hunger and who cry to you in their need.
Give them, we pray, according to your grace
and according to their need to the glory of your name. Amen.
~ from Cameroon. In A Journey with Worshipping Communities around the World,written by John D. Witvliet. Posted on Reformed Worship.
Prayer Reflection: When Life is Messy
It is easy to pray when the sun shines
and we are grateful for another glorious day of being.
It is hard to pray when wind and rain and thunder
plague our every step and spoil our every plan.
It is easy to be virtuous when life goes well
and our existence is a journey from bliss to beauty and back.
It is hard to be virtuous when life assaults us
and our very being is a pilgrimage from bad to worse to worst.
It is easy to be cheerful when health bursts in us
so that we can feel the very pulse of life.
It is hard to be happy when pain and fatigue beset us
and we wonder if we can go on...
God of order and neatness, we give thanks for all that is good.
We are grateful for manifold blessings bestowed upon us.
God of chaos and disorder, be with us also when life is messy.
Bless our coming in and our going out from this day forth.
~ written by Richard S. Gilbert (edited) and posted on the Rex AE Hunt website.
Prayer: Risen and Ascended Lord
We worship you as the Lord, risen and ascended.
As we pray for our broken world,
we want to ask you when you will fix everything,
when your kingdom will come,
when justice will be restored,
and you tell us to wait;
to wait upon you, to attend to you.
But people are hungry now, thirsty now,
people lose their lives in our world now,
and you tell us to wait.
But for how long?
Lord Jesus, risen and ascended,
show us where you are now,
to join you in what you are doing now.
Open our eyes again, to attend to you now,
and join you in what you are already doing.
But people suffer from war now.
And we’re pretty sure we know what needs to be done,
what justice must look like,
and still you tell us to wait;
to attend to you, to see what you are doing –
to catch Your Spirit.
Help us to know what you are doing, and to join you.
And people are suffering environmental breakdown now.
People’s lives and livelihoods are being wrecked now.
Western greed for biofuel drives poor families from their lands now –
and we want you to act, and act now.
And you tell us to wait.
To wait upon you,
and to see who you are and what you are doing,
and the miracles you are working.
Help us not to fix the world,
but to wait on you and so see the world transformed.
Lord, we long for justice, for you to act.
By your Spirit, show us what you are doing already,
ahead of us, despite us, for us.
Forgive our arrogance and help us to listen.
Fill us with your Spirit, Risen and Ascended one,
restore your kingdom in our lives,
that we might know you more,
trust you more,
serve you more fully.
Fill us with your Spirit that we might wait for you,
and in so doing, see you at work,
and find ourselves drawn in, to the glory of your name,
Risen and Ascended Lord.
~ from the Baptist Union of Great Britain website.
Prayer of Lament
Holy and Merciful God,
Your scriptures tell us that weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning. Yet how long is this night, O Lord? How long will this dark night of the soul be? We have no explanation for what brings us here tonight. We can do nothing else than endure in this deepest and most painful of mysteries. We believe in you, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and resurrecter of Jesus Christ. We also believe, with equal and perhaps even greater conviction, that we have experienced some things that have been truly traumatic and disturbing.
We are at a loss. We cannot explain nor justify why you would allow these things to happen to us, and when we hear these justifications they do not solve the mystery, or take away the pain. Our question is this: why God? Why?
Why would you allow such a thing to happen?
And why would you allow us to be wounded?
Like Job, we can find no fault in ourselves for this suffering, though many voices inside and outside want to blame us. Like Israel, we cannot simply put our tragedy behind us, but we have to tell the story of when it happened, where it happened, how it happened. Like you … You know this darkness, Lord, for you allowed it to have its way with you on the cross. You prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that it might not be so. And yet you faced it, for our sake. You not only died, but descended into hell.
Lord Christ, you know our suffering deeper than we know it. You rose from the dead, but you still carried your wounds. You asked Thomas to come and touch them, so that he might believe. Can you teach us how to bear our wounds to you? We do not want our pain to close us off from you or from others any longer.
Your presence is the only thing that sustains us, and so allow us to be present to you in our pain. Your strength was shown in weakness, and so we come to you in our weakness. And so our weeping tarries for this night, but may joy come in the morning. Death and destruction come for us all, we cannot deny them or the wounds they have left. But we shall not let them have the last word, because you did not let them have the last word.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.
~ posted on the Disruptive Grace blog.
Call to Worship
Let us focus on God’s presence.
In the midst of a world where people hunger and thirst …
Come worship a God who feeds the hungry.
In the midst of a world where people are abused and oppressed …
Come worship a God who calls for compassion and justice.
In the midst of a world filled with wars and rumors of war …
Come worship a God who desires nothing less than peace for the world.
In the midst of a world of spiritual emptiness …
Come worship a God who gives life meaning.
Come, let us worship the Lord, whose grace and love know no end!
~ Posted on the PCUSA website.
Experiencing God: Two Views (Psalm 13 and Psalm 23)
O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
The LORD is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
He restores my soul.
He guides me along paths of righteousness
for the sake of his good name.
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O LORD my God!
Restore the sight to my eyes, or I will die.
Even when I walk through the dark valley of death,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
You prepare a feast for me right in front of my enemies.
You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the LORD
because he has been so good to me.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.
~ Christine Longhurst
Traditional Hymn: I Will Sing the Wondrous Story
Worship Together #508
I will sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ Who died for me.
How He left His home in glory
For the cross of Calvary.
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ Who died for me,
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.
I was lost, but Jesus found me,
Found the sheep that went astray,
Threw His loving arms around me,
Drew me back into His way.
I was bruised, but Jesus healed me,
Faint was I from many a fall,
Sight was gone, and fears possessed me,
But He freed me from them all.
Days of darkness still come o’er me,
Sorrow’s path I often tread,
But His presence still is with me;
By His guiding hand I’m led.
He will keep me till the river
Rolls its waters at my feet;
Then He’ll bear me safely over,
Where the loved ones I shall meet.
~ Francis H. Rowley
Contemporary Hymn: Lord, Throughout All Generations
Lord, throughout all generations
you have been our dwelling place,
long before the birth of mountains,
long before the world was made,
you were God then, now and ever,
everlasting still the same,
but one word returns us mortals
back to dust from whence we came.
For a thousand years of history
are as nothing in your sight,
they're like yesterday now passing,
like an hour in the night;
they are swept away on waking
like a dream at break of day,
they're like grass that grows in morning,
and in evening fades away.
Turn, O Lord, and have compassion!
How long will your people wait?
Fill our hunger in the morning
with your steadfast love and grace,
so that we may rise rejoicing
and be glad through all our days.
For as long as we have suffered,
give us joy and happiness.
Let the work of your salvation
be made plain in human sight;
show your people and their children
the great splendour of your might.
Let your blessing and your favour
be on us, O Lord our God:
bless our passing small achievements
with your everlasting word.
~ Words copyright © David Schutz. If you use this song in worship, please put “Words (c) David Schütz” at the beginning or the end of the psalm.
HYFRYDOL (“Jesus, what a friend for sinners”)
BEACH SPRING (“Come all Christians, be committed”)
HARRIS (“All that thrills my soul is Jesus”)
Contemporary Song: How Long, O Lord
How long O Lord
Will You forget me
How long O Lord
Will You look the other way
How long O Lord
Must I wrestle with my thoughts
And ev'ry day
Have such sorrow in my heart
But I trust in Your unfailing love
Yes my heart will rejoice
Still I sing of Your unfailing love
You have been good
You will be good to me
Look on me and answer
O God my Father
Bring light to my darkness
Before they see me fall
~ Brian Doerksen, Daphne Rademaker, Karen Mitchinson, Steve Mitchinson. Copyright © 2002 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing). CCLI Song #3721852. If you use this song in worship, be sure to report it on your CCLI license.
Listen to it here: http://re-worship.blogspot.ca/2011/06/video-how-long-o-lord.html
Contemporary Song: How Long?
We have sung our songs of vict'ry
We have prayed to You for rain
We have cried for Your compassion
To renew the land again
Now we're standing in Your presence
More hungry than before
Now we're on Your steps of mercy
And we're knocking at Your door
How long before You drench the barren land
How long before we see Your righteous hand
How long before Your name is lifted high
How long before the weeping turns
To songs of joy
Lord we know Your heart is broken
By the evil that You see
And You've stayed Your hand of judgement
For You plan to set men free
But the land is still in darkness
And we've fled from what is right
We have failed the silent children
Who will never see the light
But I know a day is coming
When the deaf will hear His voice
When the blind will see their Saviour
And the lame will leap for joy
When the widow finds a husband
Who will always love His bride
And the orphan finds a Father
Who will never leave her side
How long before Your glory lights the skies
How long before Your radiance lifts our eyes
How long before Your fragrance fills the air
How long before the earth resounds
With songs of joy
~ Stuart Townend. Copyright © 1997 Thankyou Music (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing). CCLI Song #2295736. If you use this song in worship, be sure to report it on your CCLI license.
Listen to it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdPT4EvYUHM
Litany of Lament: U2: “40”
Video: How Long, O Lord?
This worship resource was created/compiled by Christine Longhurst. You are welcome to use it free of charge, and where appropriate, please note the source. If you are printing any of the resources for distribution, please print the source as well. The content of the worship resource does not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, which oversees the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies. For more worship resources by Christine Longhurst, see http://www.re-worship.blogspot.ca or http://www.faithmatters.ca.