Responding with prayer is right (but not in the way you think).
The immediate reaction to shootings like the one in Las Vegas is to offer “thoughts and prayers.” We make an image-card and post it on social media. And we say prayers for those grieving.
But the immediate response to this by progressives is to complain that “thoughts and prayers” are no help at all. “What we need is a change of laws,” they say.
The call to prayer—for so many—feels like an abdication for responsibility.
“Why pray when we know the problem and the solution?”
“Why pray for those grieving when we could have avoided this?”
“Why pray when we can go out and do something?”
And they have a point.
Is the call to prayer that we make just a platitude thrown around to sound more concerned than we are? Is the promise to pray just a vacuous statement signaling how compassionate we are (or would like to seem to be)?
Even if it is genuine, even if we are pleading before God for mercy with countless other, is there more we could be doing?
I say, No. We should keep praying.
We should pray without ceasing.
Prayer without ceasing
Paul tells us to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). But what does mean to pray without ceasing? How can you pray without ceasing if you have to go about your regular life?
One view of “praying without ceasing” understands all our loving connections with others as a type of prayer, a kind of connection with God. All our good works and compassionate acts constitute our praying without ceasing.
Prayers for those affected by violence
So we should offer prayers to God for all who suffer from these shootings.
And we should do this by acting compassionately and by seeking justice on behalf of these and future victims. Part of our praying without ceasing is to advocate for a change in the gun laws in America.
Prayers against the spiritual forces of violence
But I’m not siding with the progressives by redefining prayer as merely political action. I don’t think the answer to all of life’s problems can be fixed through government regulation. It can’t.
Many progressives have thrown up their hands in despair over the possibility of changing our guns laws.
And this is exactly why we should pray!
As Paul reminds, “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
So Let us Pray
To all progressives calling for us to stop praying and instead take up the cause for gun regulation, I say, “No way! Without prayer this cause is lost.”
Today, may we pray for those who grieve, for those in pain, for those who lost a loved one. May we pray without ceasing in seeking justice and righteousness in the laws of our land. And may we pray to overcome the cosmic powers of darkness and evil.
So by all means, please pray.