After every tragic – and preventable – mass shooting, the offering of “thoughts and prayers” via Twitter and other social media platforms has become customary. Following swiftly behind is the derision of these offered “thoughts and prayers.” While I tend to agree with the perspective that many of those offering these thoughts and prayers – particularly GOP officials and supporters – are dangerously hypocritical, I have also felt torn by the shredding of “thoughts and prayers” as political rhetoric with no inherent power or value.
Let me begin by saying I believe prayer is one of the best ways we can pull the power of heaven into our lives. I believe we communicate with God through prayer; He listens and answers. To the extend that thoughts are the prayers of our hearts, I believe that thoughts can be communication with God that we offer without speaking. In short, I believe that thoughts and prayers work. They don’t just work…they can work miracles. I experience their power daily.
The scriptures teach: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For, every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).
The scriptures teach us to pray, to ask, to seek, to knock. When we pray with faith and pure desire, our prayers are always answered…though not always in the ways we think are best, always in the ways that end up being best. I pray to know how to spend my time, to find lost things, to be aware of those who may need extra love and support, to know how to parent my children, to know how to spend my money, to build stronger familial relationships. I pray for my kids, for friends and family who are struggling, for elected officials to act with morality, for humanity to prevail through a wave of resistance built by courageous individuals. I pray about everything.
Prayer without action, faith without works, means nothing.
The scriptures also teach: “Even so, faith, if it hath not works, is dead…I will shew thee my faith by my works” (James 2:17-18).
It is not enough just to pray and expect God to handle everything while we sit back and wait for miracles to happen. It doesn’t work that way. We must also act. We must do all that we can do, offer all our efforts – however insignificant they may seem – on behalf of the things our hearts most desire.
If we want to find something we’ve lost, we can pray…but we must also look.
If we want to know how to spend our money, we can pray…but we must also budget.
If we want to know how to raise our children, we can pray…but we must also study, read, and listen to our kids.
If we want to end the mass shootings of innocent children in schools, innocent worshippers in churches or synagogues or mosques, innocent people at concerts, clubs, restaurants, work…we must change our gun laws and work for gun reform. NOT TAKE MONEY FROM THE NRA, while spewing dangerous lies and rhetoric that support a gun-toting agenda in order to rile up the base.
I am incensed when public figures offer “thoughts and prayers” in response to tragedy and don’t follow up with action. Not least because it is hypocritical lip-service to the morality we all know must be upheld. But also because it turns people away from God by portraying prayer as empty rhetoric with no substantive value.
I am saddened when people deride all “thoughts and prayers” as a meaningless waste of breath. They don’t have to be. Indeed, they should never be. Thoughts and prayers are some of the most powerful ways we can bring about MUCH needed change. I would argue that we need them now more than ever.
AND, we need the works that follow.
So let’s offer thoughts and prayers…
AND, let’s put in the work. Let’s protest and resist, donate and canvas, dialogue and discuss, do all the things that we can do to change the wave of hatred and lies that threaten our democracy and humanity.
And, for all of our sakes,