Years ago, Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Yet long before this modern-day understanding gleaned from psychology, the psalms of lament gave spiritual expression to these deep and dark emotions, including Psalm 22.
Between the opening and closing verses of the psalm we read soul-baring, brutal honesty that we rarely find in the prayer repertoire of the modern-day believer. Perhaps part of the problem with our prayer is not that we pray too little, but that our prayer has become too sanitized, too superficial. We don’t have to travel far to come face-to-face with injustice, pain, and evil. We have forgotten that God’s word has always been relevant. The problem is not scripture; it is us. We need to rediscover the timeless power and relevance of the ancient prayers of the Psalter and mine the forgotten spiritual treasures that lead to a deeper and more authentic life with God.
Christians have forgotten how to lament. Today’s reading invites us to God’s original school for prayer. It is not a sin to be angry, but perhaps we sin by removing our anger from prayer. It is not a heresy to name the depths of frustration and suffering, but perhaps we sin when we pretend that everything is OK when it is not. Raw honesty may not be the only thing we need to restore to our prayer life, but it seems a good start for those who desire to follow the rabbi who has nail-scarred hands.

Lord, sometimes it feels like trouble is always near and help is not. Give me courage to pray and express honestly where I am, including my doubts, fears, and anger. Hear me when I cry to you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 10:17-31

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Lectionary Week
October 8–14, 2018
Scripture Overview

Faithful people still have questions for God. Job wishes he could sit down with God and plead his case because he wants God to justify what has happened to him. The psalmist, traditionally identified as David, also feels abandoned by God and wonders why God is not coming to his aid. God can handle our questions. Job wanted an advocate, and Hebrews says that Jesus now fills that role for us. He is our great high priest and understands our sufferings, so we may boldly approach him for help. In Mark, Jesus deals with the challenge of money. It is a powerful force and can come between God and us if we cling to our resources instead of holding them loosely with thanksgiving for God’s provision.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Job 23:1-9, 16-17. When have you, like Eliphaz, attributed your own suffering or that of others to wickedness on your part or on theirs? How often do you find yourself blaming others for the situations in which they find themselves?
• Read Psalm 22:1-15. How could your prayer life be more honest and transparent? What feelings do you hold back?
• Read Hebrews 4:12-16. When God shines the spotlight on your soul, what does God see?
• Read Mark 10:17-31. How do you square your “wealthy” life with Jesus’ call to discipleship?

Respond by posting a prayer.

I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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