The Prayer of Tears
The world is in great need of God’s children to pray and bring heaven to the earth. Author Richard Foster posits that the key to the heart of God is in prayer. Prayer is our response to the overwhelming love of God and springs from the act of falling in love with God. Love is the syntax of prayer. Foster has subdivided prayer into twenty-one categories and spends a full chapter exploring each type in his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home.
The Prayer of Tears is the fourth type of prayer that Richard Foster covers. Foster explains that the Prayer of Tears is wrapped in the Greek word Penthos meaning inward godly sorrow, a broken and contrite heart, and blessed and holy mourning. It is a deep, heartfelt compulsion to pray from the emotional side of our lives. We see the great goodness of God and cannot help but to weep over our own sin and the sin of the world. There is an intimate awareness that in our sin, we are cut off from the fullness of God’s presence. Godly sorrow leads to Godly joy. Psalm 30:5 tells us, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Foster states, “…tears are God’s way of helping us descend with the mind into the heart and there bow in perpetual adoration and worship” (p. 41). Foster gives us a four-step process to develop a broken and contrite heart. We ask God for the gift. We confess our lack of faith and the accompanying hardheartedness. We receive forgiveness through the blood of Jesus while forgiving one another. Finally, we obey with joy. The believer can follow in the footsteps of Jesus as we ask him to show us how to weep. Foster encourages those who cannot weep outwardly to weep in contrition on the inside. “Have a weeping heart. Keep your soul in tears” (p. 45).
Do not be ashamed or fearful in times of weeping. God stores our tears in a bottle and holds them precious. Allow God to lead you from sorrow into joy.
Foster, Richard J., Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. New York: Harper Collins, 1992.