I’d be hard pressed to think of a more cynical and exploitative headline at a time of national mourning than the New York Daily News, in exemplary journalism, who took “progressive” rhetoric one step further and decided to use its cover to mock God for failing to “fix” the problem of sinful mankind doing sinful things:
A quick peek at the Twitter “trending” box found many like this at the top. The very same people quoting “our” Jesus to us just a week ago urging an embrace of more Syrian Refugees yesterday seemed to race again to social media. They didn’t offer any compassion to the victims of the shooting, any information to the authorities, or any insights on how to prevent future terrorist attacks–but to mock people for having the audacity to pray for the victims and their families. Another Wikipedia definition seems imminent, “Prayer-shaming.”
we don‘t need your thoughts & prayers – we need action. Now.
and lots demanding more gun control:
We don‘t need you to send prayers. We need you to vote for modern gun laws.
(I had to dig deep to find why so many included hash-tags for PP, and then I stumbled upon one who shared the news that the PP “clinic” was a only a 20 minute walk away. You can’t make this stuff up. Clearly a connection with the “Bible thumpin’, AK47 totin’, Shoot ’em up Pro lifers!)
Prayers aren’t working.
Another mass shooting prompted another round of silence Wednesday from GOP presidential candidates on the issue of gun control.
Instead, while the Democratic presidential wannabes were calling for stricter gun laws in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre, the Republicans were preaching about prayer.
It’s all they ever have to offer, isn’t it? And it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference.
…discussing out how much money all of those “thoughts and prayers” politicians have received from the NRA.
Since I’ve been on AOL since Al Gore invented the internet, for some reason I get spoon-fed Huffington Post as my reliable news feed. Here’s the best they could come up with:
Really? “Their ‘useless’ thoughts and prayers?” Really?
“Politicians are the people society trusts to solve society’s ills?” Really?
No one I know trusts politicians to solve our ills. That’s why (at least most of) the people I know want smaller government, because (again, perhaps it’s my own myopic vision) the bigger and more responsibility ladened a government becomes, the more poorly she performs. A big government is top-heavy, inefficient, and corruption prone.
I honestly understand that half of our population has no idea why private citizens have any business owning guns. They don’t hunt, and have no desire to learn to use a firearm to defend themself or their family. The thought of even touching a gun scares them. So, to them, the second amendment is nonsense, out-dated, and should be abolished. The founding fathers could not have foreseen the sins of today’s society when they crafted this law. But I’d purport that they did. And perhaps if a few of the luncheon participants had disregarded the “gun-free zone” signs and had a 357 tucked in their belts, we’d have different headlines. Or maybe not. Maybe the entire thing would have not even have been newsworthy if they’d both been slain before they even pulled their first trigger.
But I digress. Gun control is not the topic of this post.
Anyway, I was honestly confused as to what possessed all of these media types to choose “people who pray” as the target of their anger.
Then I stumbled onto the clincher. The grand pooh bah of enlightenment. A well-regarded, progressive Washington Post journalist wrote this:
This mentality was really weird to me, and revealing. Almost more of a temper tantrum than anything else, particularly since progressives immediately turn to “prayer of a different kind” in the aftermath of tragedy. They pray to the god of bigger and better government. Something must be done! Legislate! Last week we needed more programs to serve the huge increase of refuges that we “must” accept. And now we need gun-control laws.
Maybe we should compassionately accept more refugees, and maybe we do need better gun control laws. These are fodder for later use.
The phrase “thoughts and prayers” sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to athiests and maybe agnostics, let’s just say “humanists.” Initially, I assumed it was because the “thoughts” portion seem somewhat meaningless. Combining it with prayer makes it seem like prayer is nothing more than “thoughts,” kind of like “good energy,” when New Ager’s send out “white light.” Prayer isn’t just “thoughts” and perhaps people could really drop the “thoughts” portion of the phrase. Kudos to Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan for their more theologically precise public statements in that regard.
Prayer is at the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus spoke about it extensively, explaining to those of us who follow him how to pray to our father in heaven. Perhaps you have heard of the “Our Father,” which provides the model of prayer for the Christian.
Prayer is described throughout the entirety of Scriptures, from Moses’ telling of discussions with God all the way through St. John’s glorious vision of the consummation of prayers in the restored heavens and earth, described in Revelation. And the Gospel of Luke describes how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the eve of his crucifixion — “being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Jesus tells us to call God our Father. He tells us that God wants us to ask him for things like a father wants his children to ask of him, so he can answer and give them what they ask for to show his love. For the Christian, we pray because God commands it, and that means it’s extremely important to us. We know God wants to hear our prayers and will use our prayers to help us in some ways that we can’t even understand. And many that we can.
You see, to a faithful (Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, as well as Christian) people, praying is not “doing nothing.”
We do believe that God can intervene, to comfort the hurting and even to energize ourselves and others for right action. At the very least it is an expression of, “We love one another, and we hurt for one another.”
Those without such faith might look from afar and just “not get it.” There’s lots of things I “don’t get,” but I do my best to have respect and civility for those things I don’t understand.
As a (Western) medical person, I don’t get holistic, naturopathic, reikki, and other non-traditional type approaches to healing. But I don’t stand and laugh, disparagingly, at them. Some might, in fact, work as well as my own approach. The fact that I don’t understand how is a side note.
Answers to prayers aren’t like some divine vending machine where you put the money in and out pops a Snickers Bar. I am honestly a witness to many inexplicable things, both in my personal, as well as medical life. To these I do attribute Divine Intervention. Whether or not you agree is also a side note.
But prayers aren’t always (infrequently even?) answered with direct changes in courses of action. I’d purport that God acts and directs us and our life journeys in lots of altered ways because of our prayers. In prayer we are changed. Our hearts and the lenses through which we view our brothers become like clay and conform to His will. It’s not magic, or meditative self change, nor the power of positive thinking. It’s opening ourselves up to our God. Understanding that He is the master and creator of the universe, and that He is God, and that I am not. Supplication and humility open us up to His love and the changes He wants to see in us. Don’t understand? Try. Don’t have a desire to change? Don’t want to yield to a higher power? Don’t have any idea why others feel this “call” to believe? It’s a thing called grace which enables and empowers us to “open the door” and let Him in.
And so, when we “pray” we do this very thing. We open the door and let Him in. He sits to eat with us, and we with him. And when we open ourselves up to His will, we gain perspective. We see others through eyes not our own, and we grow in His love. This, of course, is empathy and that love we all know we should have. We pray also because of our needs; the community’s needs which, in love, we should take on; and the burdens of all of our neighbors and even our entire country and world.
Don’t tell me not to pray for my hurting brothers and sisters. And for you. And for a change of heart for those who hate us. Perhaps enough of these prayers will in fact change their hearts. But maybe that change will occur because our own hearts begin to love enough that others actually see Jesus in us. Perhaps this is the action you want to see, instead of what you think are empty prayers. Maybe prayers seem empty because you haven’t really opened the door yourself. And so, perhaps prayer is exactly what is needed – for you, and for me.
Lots of acknowledgment to Mollie Hemmingway at “The Federalist,” Russell Moore at “The Washington Post,” Jim Martin, at “America.”
Thank you for a sensible response to the craziest of the media’s response to the latest shooting. I really wanted to say God did fix it over 2000 years ago by sending Jesus to die for our sins.
I think ‘PP’ is mentioned because that shooting in Colorado Springs happened just days before San Bernardino.
And thanks for your wonderful and thorough explanation of prayer. You’re right; prayer is more than thoughts or requests, it becomes God’s call to action for us. He answers most of our prayers through others who also pray and are called to action.