We use cookies in order to save your preferences so we can provide a feature-rich, personalized website experience. We also use functionality from third-party vendors who may add additional cookies of their own (e.g. Analytics, Maps, Chat, etc). Read more about cookies in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. If you do not accept our use of Cookies, please do not use the website.

Header Image

A Praying Life, Chapter 23

Chapter 23: "Understanding How Laments Work" | Week of August 12, 2018

“Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down..." – Isaiah 64:1


Paul Miller continues his exploration of the connection between Old Testament laments and our prayer lives in chapter 23 of A Praying Life. He makes the following observation: "A lament connects God's past promise with my present chaos, hoping for a better future." (Page 180) This provides a powerful template for us to cry out to God in a way that is both true to our hearts and honoring to him.

In the chapter, Miller walks us through Isaiah 64, showing us a textbook example of a lament that displays this past–present–future connection. Isaiah recognizes that God "acts for those who wait for him" (Is. 64:4), and because of this, he is not shy about crying out. Miller notes: "What is so striking about biblical laments is that God almost never critiques them. He delights in hearing our messy hearts." (Page 186)

Once again, this week's prayer chapter ties into Sunday's sermon. Pastor Sean shared the parable of the wise servants in Luke 12:35-40, who stay alert for their master's return. Miller observes that God responded to Isaiah's lament that he come down from the heavens — Jesus answered Isaiah's prayer! So, too, as we face chaos in our own lives, we are called to live in hopeful expectation that God the Father will ultimately answer our cries with Jesus yet again when he ultimately returns to set everything right once and for all.


Jesus follows his encouragement in Luke 12 not to be anxious with a parable about his return. He doesn't want us to be anxious about the time of his coming, but he does want us to live hopefully with the expectation it will happen. How does that connect to our laments? Some of us struggle with significant chaos in our lives: broken relationships, chronic illness, the sudden loss of a job, and many other anxiety-producers. Jesus is the God who comes down, who meets our brokenness with healing, and who will one day set everything right forevermore. What would waiting on this kind of God with hopeful expectation look like in your situation? Spend a couple minutes writing down your thoughts.


Pray through those thoughts. Follow the example Miller outlines in chapter 23 from Isaiah 64: Approach God trusting he will hear you, ask God to be true to his word, tell him what you hope to see happen as he addresses your chaos, let him know your pain, and continue to ask beyond today. Specifically, pray God will show you what hopeful expectation looks like in the midst of whatever pain or burden you're facing.


Please pray for others in our church family who are burdened with pain, loss and chaos. Our church family is a place where broken people are welcome, and they come. Pray for both folks you know who are struggling, and also pray for those you may not know who face tremendous challenges to family, health, sobriety, financial security, and other chaos-makers. As Isaiah 64:4 reminds us, God acts for those who wait on him, so pray he acts.


Revelation 21:4 tells us that when Jesus returns, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." Talk to your kids about the hope we have for when Jesus returns and how, when that day happens, all the bad things will be undone. Pray together for hopeful, trusting hearts that wait for that day but also try to live in the way Jesus calls us while we wait.

Tags : prayer, devotional