Prayer is not an empty gesture; it’s how Christians first respond to tragedy.
by Ed Stetzer
This morning, most Americans are waking up to news of another mass shooting—this time in Las Vegas—and, this time, the worst in our country’s history.
We will sit in front of the TV, our regular morning routine put on hold as we see the all-too-familiar images of police setting up barricades, victims being evacuated, and a slowly increasing casualty count scrolling across the bottom of the screen. In our shock, we often default to news consumption, waiting on every bit of information:
Who was the shooter and why did he do this?
What about the wounded?
What does this mean moving forward?
What needs to change in our country?
These questions are important questions, but let me propose for Christians that after we have learned of the shooting, we turn away a moment from news consumption and turn towards prayer.
I wrote in response to San Bernardino that prayer is often depicted as “not enough” or, even worse, as political posturing. But Scripture both models and teaches that prayer is central to the Christian life. Regrettably, #ThoughtsAndPrayers was already trending this morning on Twitter, but not in a good way.
Some will criticize politicians for their prayers today, calling them to action. But, I’m not a lawmaker and I think prayer is action. Not the only action needed, but a good one right now in this moment.
I don’t know all the details and I am not in Las Vegas, but I do have a heavenly father who hears my prayers as I cry out to him.
Here are three things you can pray for this morning as you process these news stories.
1. Pray for the Victims
As of this morning there are at least 50 people dead and over 200 injured. As was the case with Orlando, San Bernardino, Newton, and others in recent memory, mass casualty attacks invariably leave a wake of destruction. And, if we are honest, in addition to feeling sadness, we are angry. Indeed, if we look at Scripture, we find that this response is normal.
As those who want to see God’s kingdom come here on earth, our anger is a reflection of how things are not right in this world. In fact, our anger can spur us on to greater love and deeper prayer for God’s healing and shalom to come during times of great tragedy like this.
As we recognize our anger, we then pray with an attitude of confession and expectation. Nehemiah’s prayer in chapter one is an example of one receiving terrible news of devastation far away. He started his prayer and fasting by confessing his own sin. He then gave himself to the task and expected that God would empower him to be a blessing. So can we.
So we pray for healing for the survivors and for their loved ones. We ask God to bring not only physical and emotional healing, but spiritual assistance. This spiritual assistance takes many forms—words of encouragement from believers spoken at the right time and in the right attitude, reminders that we have a God who cares for us and who himself is familiar with great pain, etc.
SOURCE: Christianity Today: “The Exchange”