“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice.” Psalm 130:1
On May 24, the night we began grieving a terrible act of violence at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Pastor Laura Fry and I wrote the prayer of lament below for the congregation of Perinton Presbyterian Church. Lament is a prayer form used many times in the Bible. There are many laments in the Psalms, for example Psalms 6, 10, 38, 42-43, and 130. Lament psalms are not without hope, but express honest struggle, sadness, and sometimes anger. There is a book in the Old Testament named Lamentations, a five-chapter lament during a difficult time for Israel. We offer this lament as an honest prayer to our God at a time of national distress.
Great and Loving God,
We lament the horrific act of violence that took the lives of 19 schoolchildren and 2 teachers today in Texas, so soon after the violence in a market in Buffalo and a Presbyterian Church in California;
We lament that over 200 acts of mass violence have occurred in our nation thus far in 2022;
We lament mass shootings in public places, including markets, schools, theatres, concerts, churches, synagogues, and mosques;
We lament the proliferation of hatred and fear in our land;
We lament this evil.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our laments.
Knowing your heart of love and your redeeming grace at work in our world, we pray:
For officers of the law: police, sheriffs, troopers, detectives, chiefs, and judges; for attorneys, private and public;
For social workers, doctors, nurses, first responders, emergency room workers, and fire fighters;
For counselors and therapists in our schools, hospitals, and in private practice;
For our children—those of our own blood, by adoption, and all children we hold in our hearts—as well as all children of our land, and for their parents and grandparents;
For those in political office at every level, local, state, and federal; for our president and vice-president; for our governor; for the 535 members of Congress: Republicans, Democrats, and independents;
For pastors, priests, rabbis, and imams;
For school administrators, school boards, teachers, and staff;
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. Lord, hear my voice.