There are silent prayers going up across the country and maybe even around the world as the people of Sutherland Springs, Texas, mourn the loss of their families and friends. I’m a Texan. I know this little town of just over 600 people. Now 26 of the beloved citizens are now gone. It is a crime that was unimaginable for the church congregants and small community. So why the hostility against prayer in the wake of this atrocity?
As a fellow Texan, I’m begging everyone to be quiet. I’m asking that the rampage about gun control and ranting about politics and politicians ends, especially from high profile Christian leaders. For a moment, anyway. I’m requesting that every one of us, who are not there in this Texas town, take a moment to breathe, pray, and think on how we would want the world to respond. I doubt at this point, two days later, we would want to consider how the deaths of our friends and families need to shape politics and fit agendas are splashed across the media.
Where is the decency? Where is the comfort and respect? Yes, there will be a time when we need to analyze and address and try to understand what can be done differently. But perhaps, give it a few days. Stop tweeting. Put down your phone, and say a prayer. Or send a note. Or recognize the urgency of sharing the Gospel while still on this earth.
Nothing is going to change overnight. Laws are not going to be overturned and lives are not going to be revived because people have the audacity to proclaim their stoic opinions as truths on social media platforms and subsequently strike the hearts of the people affected.
I know, freedom of speech must be at stake if I am actually asking people to stop going on and on about their agendas. Not the case, at all. Please do tell us about your feelings on guns and public policy. But tell me next week. Or at least in about three days. There is only a handful of Americans who truly want to hear how terrorized people feel about the barbaric idea that people can still own guns while 26 people are dead and their families and friends are drowning in sorrow.
This atrocity most certainly warrants thoughts and prayers. If you are not a Christian and do not believe in the power of prayer, that’s okay. Thank goodness for the U.S. Constitution’s protected freedom of religion for Believers and non-believers alike. However, there is an essence of respect that can be had for the people who depend on it more than their own hands. If you are a Christian, have been taught the power of prayer, and are in an uproar about the fact that we are not “taking action,” please excuse yourself from the dialogue completely.
There will be action. There is no doubt that people will take action, whether they do it with the law, with their Bible, counsel, compassion, or with a protest sign. There will be action on both ends of the political spectrum.
However, the fact is that at this time the only action many of us can take, just a day after this horrific event, is to pray. We cannot offer a compassionate Christian witness by advocating a partisan political agenda while loved ones are grieving. What we can do is pray while at our jobs, in our classrooms, or making our commutes. After all, our heavenly Father is able to take ultimate action for justice and peace.
So please do not discard prayer and loving thoughts as hopeless or lazy. It is all we can do right now as our hearts hurt for those in Sutherland Springs. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 reminds us that there is “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” So finally, let us be silent, be prayerful, and be mindful in this time of mourning for those who have been lost and their loved ones who feel the weight of it on their entire being.
Don’t know what to pray? Here is a prayer Institute on Religion & Democracy staff offered up in the hours after the shooting.