Is prayer enough?
Like many of you, my heart is heavy. It feels like we wake up morning after morning to countless images of lives destroyed. Families are exhausted from going weeks at a time without power and basic necessities, knowing they have no physical home to return to. Communities are weighed down by grief as children wake up without parents, and parents wake up without children due to the senseless gun violence that no one can seem to explain.
When devastation occurs, in places near and far, we are quick to come together as people of faith. We say from the depths of our hearts that our thoughts and prayers are with (fill in the blank). But at times like this, is prayer enough?
Of course we believe in a God that can do more than we can imagine, and we know that God is suffering with all who suffer, and knows the deep pain of all who are hurting. But sometimes I feel like my prayers are just empty words. How are these words going to do anything to help people whose pain is beyond any I have known?
I had a great mentor remind me once that we better not pray for anything that we aren’t willing to be a part of. That is, when we pray for God’s peace on earth, we better be ready for God to use us to make that happen. So is prayer enough? I have to say in some ways yes – because it is prayer that stirs us to action. We don’t just pray for the victims who have found themselves in horrible circumstances, but we pray that God uses us to be part of their healing. When we pray, we trust that the Holy Spirit is at work guiding us to act in ways that make us part of the solution.
Is prayer enough? Of course it is, because as Christians, prayer is no longer separate from our actions.
“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen.” – St. Francis of Assisi
–Kelsey Fitting-Snyder, pastor in residence
2 Comments on “Is prayer enough?”
I’m imagining myself standing next to the ruins of my home in Texas or Florida or Puerto Rico, which once held most of my earthly possessions. If someone walked up to me and told me that she/he would pray for me, I must say that my heart would not exactly soar with a sense of hope or comfort. Thanks, Kelsey for an important reminder. Generous donations to disaster relief organizations like that of ELCA, which apply almost all of your donation to relief (not the Red Cross), is a good start.
Thank you for sharing this perspective on the way prayer leads us into action. It reminds me to end my prayer requests and concerns asking God to show me the path to be His hands and feet where I can be of help.
Thank you for your words of wisdom.