Suggestions for How to Pray in the Middle of This*
I called for us (my family, friends and members of our diocese who read what I write on Facebook) to prayer today, in the aftermath of the weekend shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton OH.
One of my friends replied to my suggestion of prayer by writing: “(prayer) hasn’t worked to this point, not sure why it would help now.”
I had a 2 ½ hour drive to my morning visitation to contemplate this comment and, in response, I offer this blog post.
You see, I believe in prayer. I believe that without it, I would be aimlessly wandering through my life- without a grounding, touchpoint, or a force greater than myself to make meaning and create wholeness in my life. Without prayer, to “whom” would I rail/beg/thank/turn to when I am deep in the pit and feeling so alone? Prayer is my way of communicating with God. It is not always polished, it is not always beautiful, but I don’t think that matters. I believe that prayer doesmake a difference and that it doeshelp- now, in the past, and in the days to come.
Two of my favorite sayings about prayer:
“I pray because I can’t help myself. … I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” (CS Lewis)
Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. (St. Augustine)
Today, as we collect ourselves around the horrible reality that, again, innocent people- babies, children and adults- have died at the hand of an armed mass murderer, here are some suggestions for how respond in prayer. Not because prayer can undo the massacres and bring those people back, but because it is a powerful point of connection that is transformational. Prayer does change things.
Prayer can be done individually or in groups. Here are some suggestions:
Offer Specific Prayers
…of Intercession for the victims who died, for their families and loved ones, and for their communities where fear, along with shock and grief, is present right now. Pray for those who were injured.
…of Thanksgiving for the first responders, doctors and nurses, hospitals and ambulance drivers.
…for God’s will for the individuals who committed the acts, and for an end to hatred and violence.
Pray more broadly
…for peace and justice and harmony in our land. Spend time imagining that world: envision a place in the heart of your mind where God’s Kingdom has come, and pray for its coming to us.
…for our society and its structures– for adequate mental health services, for sensible laws around firearms, and for an end to racism, poverty, and intersectional issues that create a culture of fear, violence and oppression. Pray for our lawmakers, legislators and leaders that they will lead us into paths of peace.
…for our own strength and compassion in these days. Pray us – ourselves- into action, advocacy, and the path of transformation.
…for discernment, that God might show us how we can be the hands of Christ in this world, to make the Way of Love a Way of Life for all. Pray that we can find our place to respond as peacemakers and advocates of a world of harmony.
Pray in different ways
…this afternoon on my drive home, I listened to the Mozart Requiem, holding the victims in my prayer. Prayer can be powerful in forms of journaling, drawing, walking and singing.
Gather in fellowship
…to offer vigils for those who mourn and to honor the dead.
…Using the resources of the Book of Common Prayer(this morning we gathered with the Prayer for Peace on pg. 815)
…sitting in silence to collectively listen for God’s word and to lift up our brokenness and to share, in “groans too deep for words.”(Romans 8:26)
I hope that you will join God, and others around the world, in prayer today.
I am confident that it will help.
I will be praying.
*This= the aftermath of a mass shooting in our country