I’ve seen it all over social media today: No more thoughts and prayers. Policy and change.
People want gun control.
I get it. I feel the same.
The news reported that the weapon used in yesterday’s Parkland tragedy was an AR-15 – the same type of semi-automatic weapon used in 6 of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in the United States over the last 10 years. It’s the civilian version of the military’s fully-automatic M-16, and recent estimates are that Americans own 8 million of them.
Yes, that’s right. 8 million.
Why would any civilian NEED such a device?
Or so many of them?
But I digress a bit, because – however meaningful – gun control isn’t what I want to talk about.
My issue is this: Saying “no more thoughts and prayers” puts us on a slippery slope, falling downward into a pit of despair.
These shootings are horrific. They have become so frequent that they fail to shock us anymore. Now, there is only immediate anger rising to fury, and pain giving way to sorrow that left untended leads to outright bitterness, despair, and loss of hope.
We can’t gloss over what’s happening within.
Make no mistake, there is a REAL war between good and evil, and the theater of that war is our very own hearts.
When we indulge our rage, we slide into doubting the goodness of God. And then…Then we allow the darkness to win inside us. We allow it to conceal the love in our hearts.
And this is why prayer is VITAL.
Prayer is for ourselves, and for those who suffer. And it basically works in that order.
First, we need prayer to re-align our minds and hearts toward what is just, pure, and lovely (Philippians 4:8) – i.e. God – so as to be able to share the fruits of the Spirit living in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
These are the spiritual gifts we’ll need to support the people who are in acute distress – the ones directly and indirectly impacted by the tragedies unfolding around us.
These are also the gifts we’ll need to propose wise and thoughtful policy ideas, ones which will convince others to join us in the goal of preserving that which is sacred: Life.
Second, prayer is needed to lift up to heaven those who have lost hope, and you know as well as I do that people lose hope at times like this – when the circumstances of their suffering make absolutely no sense.
The apostle James tells us to “pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). There is no replacement for a support net when you are hovering above a bottomless pit of despair. Even if our faith is as small as a mustard seed in dark earth, we must carry it for those who can’t carry faith at all, because when tended with prayer, faith grows.
So please, don’t reject prayer outright as we move in favor of change and action. One follows the other. Millions of hearts must heal and shift before we’ll see the results we want. If we forget the first in favor of the latter, we’ll only get more of the same.