Keep Praying: “Thoughts and Prayers” Matter
“In my distress I called upon the Lord,
And cried to my God for help;
He heard my voice out of His temple,
And my cry for help before Him came into His ears” (Psalm 18:6 NASB).
This past weekend we witnessed two horrible shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. While many united in thought and prayer with the victims and their families, others mocked expressions of faith with messages like:
“‘If thoughts and prayers worked, this would’ve been solved a long time ago.’”
“More thoughts and prayers on the way. Because they seem to work so well…”
“...our thoughts and prayers will not stop this madness.”
Prayer was never intended to be a carte blanche method to achieve whatever results we wish. Instead prayer guarantees the presence of God:
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20 NASB).
When people of faith say we are praying for each other, we are entreating Heaven for “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” to “guard your hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:7 NASB).
To those who decry “thoughts and prayers,” just imagine: What would our country look like if every time a tragedy occurred, no one said anything? That would be the epitome of doing nothing.
Yes, some evil appears to be preventable—as in the case with the Parkland highschool shooting in 2018:
“There were a lot of red flags with that shooter. I think they said there were 36 red flags with that shooter...This was not a boy scout, and people didn't do what they should've done.”
As much as humanly possible, we need to be vigilant, putting safeguards in place to stop as much unnecessary suffering as possible—that is why we have a justice system. But we also have to understand that we cannot stop all evil in this life because every human is created with free will. And living in America, we are blessed with many freedoms—including the right to keep and bear arms. The very nature of free will is that it is free, and we are free to choose evil or good.
Although we may choose to do good, others may not and when their actions collide with ours, tragedies happen. Even as the Perfect Man, Jesus was crucified by people with free will who chose evil, and although He prayed to “remove this cup from Me” (Luke 22:42), God did not do so. But that does not mean Jesus should not have prayed. Prayer is about fellowship with God as we seek to submit our spirits to His—for He can and does “make complex good out of simple evil,” which is what we pray and wait expectantly for.
In the words of George Washington:
“I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have the United States in his holy protection...that he would most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the Characteristicks [sic] of the Devine [sic] Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation. Amen.”
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 Brigham, B. (2019, August 3). ‘If thoughts and prayers worked, this would’ve been solved a long time ago’: Ex-police chief. Retrieved from https://www.rawstory.com/2019/08/if-thoughts-and-prayers-worked-this-wouldve-been-solved-a-long-time-ago-ex-police-chief/
 MVP. (2019, August 3). Retrieved from https://twitter.com/The305MVP/status/1157753400022450176?s=20
 Cuomo, A. (2019, August 3). Retrieved from https://www.foxnews.com/us/politicians-respond-to-shooting-at-walmart-in-el-paso
 Trump, D. J. (2019, July 31). Retrieved from https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/watch-trump-reveals-his-most-difficult-day-as-president
 Lewis, C. S. (1940). The problem of pain. United Kingdom: The Centenary Press.
 Washington, G. (1783, June 8). Prayer adapted from Washington’s Circular Letter to the States, which he wrote on June 8, 1783 as the commander in chief, at his headquarters in Newburgh, New York. Retrieved from https://www.mountvernon.org/the-estate-gardens/the-tombs/george-washingtons-prayer-for-his-country/