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Prayers of Lament for Those Who Have Experienced Spiritual Abuse


Written by Bethany Clark


A couple of months ago Waypoint held a prayer and lament service for the Church. Over the past several years reports have come out about abuses of power, clergy sexual abuse and spiritual abuse in several churches and denominations throughout the United States and the world. We wanted to confess and lament the harm that is caused in places that should be safe havens.


Confession is the practice of naming things in the presence of God and lament is the practice of sitting with others in a painful or unjust situation.

In this post I am sharing some of the prayers that we prayed because lament and confession are not a one-time thing and spiritual abuse and its effects are still causing harm to God’s children.


Prayers from August 13


Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.

Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.

(Matthew 11:28, The Message)


Giver of Life, we acknowledge and welcome your presence here with us.

Jesus, our teacher and our friend, You have called all who are weary and burdened to come to you for rest, to bring our cares and sorrows.

So here we are. Spirit, intercede for us as we pray.


Confession & Repentance

Jesus, as you left this earth you called your followers to live in a new kingdom

of love, justice, and healing.

We confess that the church that once turned the world upside down,

has not followed your ways but has done evil.

Men have loved power more than people.

Where you demonstrated compassion, leaders have abused those in their care.

Instead of nurturing truth and justice, there has been a culture of silence and secrets.

Leaders have covered up injustices and silenced those who speak up.


We repent of ambivalence and apathy towards injustice.

We repent of being like the tax collector who said “thank God I am not like that sinner”, We have often closed our eyes and ears to the cries of our brothers and sisters.

Forgive us. O God who turned towards the hurting, have mercy on us we pray.


Lament


“It is not an enemy who taunts me - I could bear that.

It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me -

I could have hidden from them.

Instead, it is you - my equal, my companion and close friend.

What good fellowship we once enjoyed

as we walked together to the house of God.”-Psalm 55:12-14


With the ones who have been hurt by the very people who were supposed to care for them, with those who have been physically, emotionally, or spiritually abused, we cry out.


With those who no longer feel safe in a place where they should find God’s love, we mourn.


“As for my companion, he betrayed his friends; he broke his promises. His words are as smooth as butter, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers.”-Psalm 55:20-21


We grieve the disappointment, confusion, and pain that comes with learning that those we looked up to, or were our teachers, have caused harm.


We sit in the pain with those who have lost friendships and been shunned by church communities for speaking out or leaving unhealthy churches.


Oh God who hears, it should not be this way among those who call themselves your followers.


“Morning, noon, and night I cry out in distress and the Lord hears my voice...He ransoms me and keeps me safe from the battle waged against me, though many still oppose me...Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you.”-Psalm 55:17-18, 22


With those who have had to fight to be heard and understood, we lament.


With those who have been mistreated in churches due to race and gender,

We cry out - how long O Lord??


We groan along with Creation waiting for the day when you will make all things right. Come quickly Jesus. This burden is too heavy for us to carry.

Help us Holy Spirit. We believe, help us in our unbelief.


Prayer for Waypoint


Lord. Keep us from sins, known and unknown.

Shine your light into our midst, reveal our blind spots.

Open our eyes and ears and hearts, may we truly see and hear the hurting.


May we be quick to listen and slow to speak when our brothers and sisters share their experiences. May we not be in a hurry to move on but be willing to sit with the discomfort, mourning with those who mourn as long as it takes to bring healing.


Lead us - pastors and church members - in creating a culture that nurtures goodness, empathy, grace, truth, justice, service and Christlikeness.


May we walk in the way of Christ, the way of Love.


Through faith in the name of Jesus, and through the empowering of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


If you would like to see a full transcript from our evening, or if you would like to talk to someone about these issues, please reach out to me or one of the pastors, elders, or staff members.

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