After the past few gut-wrenching mass killings and natural disasters in America, there’s been a noteworthy trend when it comes to where people are pointing their angst and grief in the aftermath: thoughts and prayers.
Naturally that means the attack is pretty much taking aim at people of faith, who are the ones usually offering up prayers in trying situations.
After Las Vegas, Jimmy Kimmel became the latest high profile personality to repeat the new rally cry:
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. After the 2015 San Bernardino shooting in California, the New York Daily News proclaimed “God Isn’t Fixing This”:
The gloves were off, fists were now flying directly at believers. Google it or search Twitter and you’ll find countless of similar rally cries ever since the Daily News removed their mask and revealed such a distain for people of faith. 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 (in the atheist’s view), 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. What if we as believers didn’t pray. How insulting would that be, if we have access to God yet we didn’t care enough to ask Him for help? 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 other 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 are consistently leading the charge when it comes to physically helping on the ground and in monetary donations.
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. And of course, the God who gave us the very breath of life is able to do anything. When we pray to Him, there is always hope.
So, by all means, Christian, keep offering your prayers.