Once again this week we have been devastated in the nation by another mass shooting. And once again it was aimed at our children in what should be one of the safest places in America, a school. And of course, when we face these tragedies we hear of people sending out their “thoughts and prayers.” This, in turn, is often met with a response for more than thoughts and prayers, and rightly so. As a Christian, I believe that faith drives my prayers, but that my faith must also be displayed in active love. Therefore, if we love the children of this nation, we will do more than just pray. We will act.
At the same time, as a follower of Christ, I am not ready to give up on prayer. In fact, most of the time, in this life, prayer is all we have. We are meant to live this life in complete dependence upon God and his gracious love in the midst of these horrific tragedies. So I have to pray. I have to be desperate. I have to resist blame shifting, and name calling. I have to love in the middle of this tragedy, and praying is loving. I still believe in a God who can and will work for our good and His glory. Prayer will bend my heart towards His. Prayer can bend the hearts of others towards him as well.
So don’t give up on thoughts and prayers. Here are some things we can pray for in the desperation of our broken hearts.
Psalm 34:18. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
1. Pray that the family, friends, teachers, students, all that are crushed, would understand and sense the presence of God with them in this time and place.
Isaiah 41:10. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
2. Pray that those closest to this tragedy will be freed from fear; pray that they will find strength in God and His righteous right hand- his hand is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Psalm 37:7-8. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
3. Pray for a trust in the justice of God; for patience in the waiting for that justice; for the grace to forsake vengeance.
Ephesians 1:18. having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,
4. Pray that many would place their hope in God through the eternal life of Jesus Christ, for he is our only real hope in life and death.
Ephesians 3:14-19. For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
5. Pray for the strengthening of our hearts in love, the love of Jesus Christ. He, by his great love, entered into the fray and endured the mess of humanity, in order to offer redemption from the sin that lives both inside of us and outside of us; pray for a deepening of the love of Christians for their communities, for the outcast, for those with mental health issues, for those who sorrow; pray that those who know the love of Christ would give the love of Christ to ALL who surround them, whoever they may be.
1 Timothy 2: 1-4. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
6. Pray for our nations rulers; pray that they would act in ways that would allow us to live in peaceful and quiet, and dignified ways; Pray that they would enact legislation that would bring an end to needless suffering and death; pray for deliverance from greed and power and for truth and godliness to take their place.
Please don’t give up. And please don’t give up on prayer. These shootings are indicative of the despair that mankind faces when separated from real love. Jesus holds out that love for all, and we, as his followers have the right and responsibility to carry that love to all. So let our prayers never cease, and let our love never cease to the glory of God.