Scripture Reading: Psalm 13; Revelation 6:10
1 How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
3 Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.
They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”
There are life lessons we can learn by listening to prayers. For instance, my parents’ prayers nurtured me to be a follower of Jesus. By their example, I learned to give thanks to God, to ask for forgiveness, to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom, and much more. They also taught me to lament, to cry out to God, for help and for justice on the earth.
We need to learn prayers of praise, and we need to learn prayers of lament. Jesus’ prayer on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) was a soul-piercing cry to God from Psalm 22.
In our reading from Revelation today, we listen again to the prayer of the martyrs: “How long, Sovereign Lord . . . until you . . . avenge our blood?” And we can see that this echoes ancient laments in the Psalms (see also Psalm 74:10; 94:3; 119:84).
10 How long will the enemy mock you, God?
Will the foe revile your name forever?
3 How long, Lord, will the wicked,
how long will the wicked be jubilant?
84 How long must your servant wait?
When will you punish my persecutors?
In this passage God opens our eyes to a bigger and better picture of faith. We are challenged to long as much as God does for justice and peace on the earth. The martyrs are not content just to be in heaven. They continue to work and pray for God’s justice to be present on earth as it is in heaven. Their prayer also reminds us that God plans to restore not just our souls but also the whole earth, where we will live again one day in our bodies, restored and whole.
These are powerful words for living by faith today.
Thank you, Lord, for having us listen and learn from the prayer of the martyrs. Bring justice and peace, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.