When the Daily News declared “God isn’t Fixing This” in the wake of the San Bernadino mass shooting, it was a watershed moment.
For years, the disdain and sometimes outright hatred for people of faith was contained, left simmering beneath the surface. But with one indulgently spectacular headline, all of those feelings boiled over and burst out into the open for all to see and marvel at. The sentiment is nothing new, having been spewed all over social media since the days of MySpace.
Now, however, the once taboo viewpoint has the backing and credibility of not only far left media publications, but politicians as well. Rejecting offers of “thoughts and prayers” is the actual slogan of choice for those seeking stricter gun control laws. Despite any altruistic sentiments that may lurk beneath this talking point, it is utterly misguided.
Hillary Clinton’s has put “thoughts and prayers” directly in the crosshairs via Twitter:
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) June 21, 2016
Our prayers are not enough to prevent gun violence.
The Huffington Post blog page scolded anyone offering thoughts and prayers.
Google it or search Twitter and you’ll find dozens more examples. Before this sentiment permeates culture any further, it needs to be said that prayer does matter. A lot.
It’s sad that we are in such a divisive place that this even needs to be explained, but whether or not you are a believer, when someone offers prayers you should graciously accept them. Here’s why:
Solidarity. At the very least, it shows that person cares and their heart is breaking for whatever circumstance you are going through and they honestly want it to get better. Sure, they may as well petition the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but at least they’re offering solidarity and the chance to grieve corporately rather than alone.
Power. On the flip side, the best case scenario is you now have the ear of an omnipotent higher power who can overcome anything – why not give the prayer a whirl? As a person who prays regularly, it is an extremely meaningful gesture. I am taking their concerns, their worries, their sorrows, their grief and petitioning an almighty, loving God on their behalf. This should be appreciated, especially in times where there is nothing we can do to ease pain or fix a situation – how can I heal someone who lost their child? Or stop murders from ever happening again? Or make someone’s cancer go away? I can’t. No one can. So why not ask God?
The alternative. Imagine spilling your guts, baring your soul and sharing your deepest darkest struggles with someone – only to have this believing friend say ‘hey thanks for sharing that. I can’t pray for you though. I just bought this awesome Harley and I’m a little behind on my bills.’ Obviously in this scenario you’d feel, rightfully so, that this person does not care about you very much. If Christians aren’t out in force after a tragedy praying for all those involved, that would be extremely concerning and something to rightfully criticize the church over.
Don’t assume. We all know what happens when you assume. But that’s exactly the premise of the ‘save your thoughts and prayers’ complaint. Those levying this attack assume these prayers are happening in place of meaningful action. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Of course, most people are not able to directly minister to those involved in a national tragedy. It’s physically not possible. Prayer, in many cases, is their only option. As we covered earlier, prayer is indeed meaningful action to the believer – but let’s take that off the table for a moment. Christians were some of the first and most active to reach out and help after the horrific Orlando shooting.
One church sent a fleet of adorable therapy dogs.
A local church located just blocks from the tragedy immediately helped victims by donating blood, then another offered to host funerals for free.
One man drove 1,200 miles to deliver a gift of 49 hand made crosses in honor of the victims.
There are many more examples like these. And the sentiment behind them is exactly that behind all those “thoughts and prayers” we keep hearing about. You may find prayer laughable, pointless, ineffective, less powerful than a politician – but what really matters is the intention, heart, sincerity, and hope offered by those who pray to a God they absolutely believe can do all things.
So, by all means, Christian, keep offering your prayers.