Monday, June 11, 2007


I have been reading through Philip Yancey's newest book Prayer: Does it make a difference? (2006). It is really a good read - it is helping me see how prayer can work from different angles. I just finished chapter 5 which talks about prayer as lament or complaint. Do you ever find yourself complaining to God in prayer or lamenting a difficult situation? Yancey argues (rightly) that we should because the Bible teaches us to - just read the Psalms. At the end of the chapter he offers a quote by Walter Brueggemann from his book The Message of the Psalms (a book I own and that is very good, btw), I am putting it up to see what y'all think because it is a bit thought provoking. Well, it is part Yancey, then the quote from Brueggemann.

The Bible schools us to pray with blistering honesty. Walter Brueggemann suggests one obvious reason for candor in the book of Psalms: "becasue life is like that, and these poems are intended to speak to all of life, not just part of it." Brueggemann finds it jarring to visit upbeat evangelical churches and hear only happy songs, when half of the psalms are "songs of lament, protest, and complaint about the incoherence that is expereienced in the world. At least it is clear that a church that goes on singing 'happy songs' in the face of raw reality is doing something very different from what the Bible itself does (Prayer, 66).

I was struck by this quote - is it true that many evangelical church worship services may be acting somewhat in contrast to what is seen in the Bible? If we based our worship services on the Psalms, it seems to me like 7-8 of 10 songs would center on lament, complaint or protest and only 2 might actually center on praise and thanksgiving, that is if we patterned our song services based on what we see in the Psalms. Should we pattern our song services after the Psalms and should we be sure to include songs of lament and such? How do you think the fist time visitor might respond to such a scene or even a pre-believer visiting for the first time?



At 6:06 PM, Blogger M.A.C. said...

Brian very good points. The reality of prayer and the reason we need it is because the enemy is prowling around like a lion looking for someone to devour. Satan doesn't care if you prayed for a chair and got it or some other material thing. But he is concerned about you praying for a soul to be saved.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger MLM said...

I think the Psalms is a compilation of songs. Some songs were for group services, if you will, but many were personal poems penned by a man before God. There's a difference between what I write as catharsis for my soul and what I want to sing in worship to the Lord with a group of believers. Which brings me to another thought: that most church worship services are wrongly geared to people when they should be geared to do what the title says: "PRAISE and WORSHIP GOD!"

A lot of what the Psalmist said is a true account of what he was experiencing in his life at the time, but it's not a good example of what we ought to offer to the Lord as praise or worship.

I recently wrote a post about this sort of thing on my blog (, because I have noticed that many Christians think they can copy someone's example just because that person is in the Bible. People in the Bible said and did things that weren't pleasing to the Lord. Yes, the people pleased Him (and David was called a "man after His own heart"), but the actions weren't always ones we should follow.


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