Do you get the feeling that we’ve crossed a line in this country?
As I mentioned yesterday, the most recent outburst of bloodshed and mayhem – the tragic gunning down of twenty-six worshipers at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas – has left most of us breathless and reeling.
It’s dawning on us that, somehow or other, senseless violence has become the “new norm” in America.
Again and again celebrities, news anchors, and politicians have responded to this unthinkable situation with a familiar refrain:
“We’re sending thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.”
Most of us appreciate their sentiments. But a few critics have taken it upon themselves to label these words “meaningless” and “hollow.”
“What can thoughts and prayers do,” they ask, “against bullets and bump stocks?”
It’s a question that deserves an answer.
And the answer begins with what I regard as an indispensable distinction.
There is, in fact, a huge difference between thoughts and prayers.
Thoughts exist exclusively in the mind. That’s where they stay unless they stir me to take some kind of action. I can’t really “send” my thoughts to another person. But I can allow my thoughts to compel me to do something – something to bridge the gap between my good intentions and that person’s pain and need.
This is where prayer comes in.
Prayer is more – much more – than my own internal rumblings and musings. Prayer is a lightning rod, a live wire. It’s communication and connection with the one Person in the universe who has the power to soothe every sorrow, heal every wound, dry every tear, and restore every loss. Prayer is the action behind all meaningful action.
As the late Corrie ten Boom once provocatively asked, “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the people in Sutherland Springs. But I’ve also been allowing my thoughts to find upward expression in prayer.
I believe this is the solution to the crisis we’re facing in America. I’m asking the Living God to take those hurting moms, dads, and kids by the hand, wrap them in His mercy, and comfort them with the unshakeable assurance that they will see their loved ones again. At the same time, I’m praying that the hearts of those who even now feel tempted to use weapons to take out their frustrations on others will be captured and changed by the powerful love of Jesus.
I hope you’ll join me in this vital work.
Remember: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16, NKJV).
That’s where real change begins.