When tragedy strikes in the form of mass deaths in the headlines from fire, violence or natural disaster, it is hard to know how to offer prayers to God. At such times, we really don’t know how to pray. In the face of sudden death and grief, prayer times can be difficult. This prayer was written after a nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil killed 232 young people and can be used for any tragedy.
Dear Heavenly Father, We pray that your loving presence may be felt in the community that has experienced this tragedy that claimed so many lives. It’s hard for us to imagine the magnitude of so many lives lost so suddenly and the grief and sorrow that it has brought.
Yet you tell us in this Bible verse in Isaiah 53:3 that Jesus Christ was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and suffering.” We pray that all pain suffered there today and in the days to come may be joined with the suffering of Christ upon the cross to work your redemptive power in the world.
May your love pour forth through the prayers, presence and service of your caring people from all nations to begin the healing process. Heal those who have suffered bodily and mental injury. Comfort those who are grieving the loss of dear ones. Bind together the community in grace and faith. Send your helping angels and your life giving Holy Spirit. In the name of Christ, your suffering servant we pray. Amen.
Copyright Karen Barber 2013 All rights reserved.
In the wake of a devastating shooting in San Bernardino, California that killed 14 people and injured 21, a new term swept the nation: Prayer shaming. Emma Green of The Atlantic coined the term after social media users started rebuking those who offered their “thoughts and prayers” on Facebook and Twitter.
At the same time, the New York Daily News blazed a front page headline that read, “God Isn’t Fixing This,” blasting Republican politicians that offered their prayers in response to the tragedy.
The prayer shaming trend inspired Relevant writer Tyler Huckabee’s piece “Do ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Do Any Good?”
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When Tragedy Strikes, Pray
Huckabee explained why it is a natural response to offer thoughts and prayers in the midst of tragedy. “Whatever else gunmen are able to do, they cannot take away our ability to think and pray,” he wrote. “It’s comforting for us to be able to offer some little piece of ourselves.”
But are the prayers working? Huckabee points out that in the 2015, there were more mass shootings than there were days of the year. The United States has the highest margin of mass shootings in the world. Our closest competitor is the Philippines which trails behind by 65 percent.
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In an editorial for The Washington Post, Russell Moore wrote that prayer is not inaction for people of faith.
“For religious people, of all sorts, prayer is doing something. We do believe that God can intervene, to comfort the hurting and even to energize ourselves and others for right action,” he wrote.
Huckabee agrees. “Prayer is not a substitute for action, or even preparation for action. It’s something much more fluid and powerful,” he writes.
“Perhaps it’s best to say that prayer and action are at their best when they are in harmony, and if we are serious when we say ‘our prayers are with you,’ then our prayers must be in intimate relationship with redemptive work.”
Prayer and action together is key to establish change in the future.
How To Pray When Tragedy Strikes
Writing for The Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter says we should approach praying for events that occur in the news with a strategy. We should start by picking what kind of news we want to specialize in (local, world, business, etc.). It is too much to pray about every aspect of the news.
We should remember to pray for authorities, whose names come up in the news so frequently. Additionally, the journalists who bring us the news should be included in our prayers, as their work is important, but challenging and draining.
Finally, we must avoid focusing all of our attention on the news. Carter writes, “…don’t let the news become and idol. Never let the bad news brought by the media supplant your focus on the good news of Jesus.”
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The Christian response to pray after tragedy is certainly appropriate. After all, scripture tells us that, “The earnest prayer of the righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results” (James 5:16).
It is up to the individual to decide if social media is the appropriate place to pray, but one thing is for sure: Earnest prayers are heard and answered by God.
As Huckabee writes, “whatever value there might be in telling God how sorry we are about our broken world, there can be little doubt that there’s more value in asking Him to give His people a desire to heal it.”
If you feel led to pray for the tragedy in San Bernardino now, you can pray this Prayer for Trusting God in Hard Times by Debbie Przybylski in earnest.
Prayer For Trusting God In Hard Times
I have nothing to fear with You on my side. I will be strong and courageous even in hard times. I will not be terrified or discouraged, for the Lord my God will be with me wherever I go (Joshua 1:9). You will never leave me or forsake me (Joshua 1:5). I do not need to figure everything out… I will not try any man-made method to do only what You can do. Show me Your supernatural power.
Teach me how to walk by faith and pray breakthrough prayers… Just like Joshua, You will give me the land and every place where my feet step (Joshua 1:3). “Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes. I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame. In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever” (Psalm 44:5-8).
“Faith does the impossible because it lets God undertake for us, and nothing is impossible for God. How great – without qualification or limitation – the power of faith is! If doubt can be banished from the heart and unbelief is made a stranger there, what we ask from God will surely come to pass. Prayer throws faith on God and God on the world. Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God.”
The prayer can be read in its entirety at Crosswalk.com.
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Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. – Isaiah 41:10
Getting the call last night about the horrific incident in Las Vegas, my whole world seemed to shake. The list of domestic terror attacks that continue to plague the world and our country has become devastatingly long and heartbreaking.
I woke up this morning determined to make a difference, to help, to do anything I could. I wanted to write an article about what happened and maybe somewhere in the process, make some sense of it myself. The more and more I thought and brainstormed and tried to figure out how to put that event into words, I realized that I couldn’t. There was no way for me to make sense of the travesty that unfolded. I wasn’t there. I didn’t see it happen. But I felt every bit of it in my heart. The only way that I can even begin to think of helping is to send all my prayers and thoughts up to God for every single person affected in any way. I know this is not nearly enough — but it what I feel God is calling me to do.
If you clicked this article, I’m guessing you felt like you needed to make sense of this incident too. I would really like to take a few minutes of your time to pray over you and our world.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for being the God of all gods and the Lord of all. Thank you for all those praying across the world right now for those that can no longer do so. Thank you for the amazing law enforcement, civilians, and Americans that responded so quickly and so heroically to a scene of utter devastation. I pray that you bring peace, comfort, love, and guidance to those who are struggling with today’s news. Peace to those who are currently searching for loved ones.
Comfort to those who have lost those whom they love. Love to those who feel lost in a sick and sad world. Guidance to those struggling to make sense of what happened last night. I know that You have promised to not give us more than what we can bear but I must admit that I am struggling to accept it. How much more can we bear, Lord? How many more tragedies must we endure? Give us the faith to seek you in times of struggle. You are the God of wind and water, stillness, and storm.
Fill us with faith and love.
Use us to be your ambassadors. We pray for those caught up in the midst of this tragedy, for those worried about people they love, for those who will have to say goodbye to loved ones forever. We pray for your love and guidance for those who desperately need to find you. For those confused and in despair. We praise you for being our Light in the darkness, our shelter in this storm.
In the strong and loving name of Jesus. Amen.