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A Prayer for Vegas
Church & Missional

After Vegas: Why Bother Praying?

Our country has been deeply divided between red and blue, black and white, kneelers and standers.  The tragedy in Las…

post by Ben Cachiaras

Our country has been deeply divided between red and blue, black and white, kneelers and standers.  The tragedy in Las Vegas has united us in common shock and sorrow. We can pray with one voice for healing and hope.

There has been the usual flurry of those who responded with the words “Our thoughts and prayers are with you” – a gesture of sympathy and solidarity with those suffering.

In response to the flood of those sending the “thoughts and prayers” message has come a frustrated backlash with the sentiment that we need to do more than just send thoughts and prayers. We need to actually DO something.  

 We can’t even seem agree on whether or not to pray. 

I get it.

If our sending “prayers” is merely a way of excusing ourselves from taking action, and the phrase becomes a disingenuous filler line we throw out to alleviate ourselves from the guilt of our callous inaction, then, of course, it’s wrong.

God’s people must do more than pray.

The scriptures command us to do more than merely feel bad about the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the widow, the refugee, the suffering. In the face of evil we are not only called to drop to our knees but to rise up as change agents, so that the prayer “Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” will be answered through our own lives.

We are not called merely to “say prayers” but to be the ANSWER to prayers through our loving, bold actions of God’s justice and compassion.

I understand how anger or concern can lead someone to say the time for praying is past.  That’s why our church at Mountain not only prayed for hurricane victims, we took offerings and sent funds for hazmat suits and water.  We will send teams who will roll up their sleeves and help rebuild.   They are walking prayers.

And in the aftermath of Vegas, we may feel especially aware of our helplessness.  I think the fear and hopelessness is leading many to say, “We can’t just pray!  We must take things into our own hands!”  And every Christ follower should engage through whatever tangible expressions are available, so you can, as the old rabbi said, “pray with your feet” through personal involvement, voting for change, speaking out, making a real-world difference as the Spirit directs.

But I think it’s important to remember there is a huge flaw in saying, “Don’t just pray, DO something!”  The chief error is the assumption that praying is doing nothing. Nothing is further from the truth.

In times like these, prayer is one of the best things we can do. Biblical prayer isn’t divorced from action; it IS a form of action. And it is the first step toward more action. If praying without action is bad, skipping prayer and jumping into “action” that isn’t guided through prayer is worse. Prayer is a form of action.

May I remind us of a few other reasons why your prayer matters? 

But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.”  Psalm 3:3

Prayer invites us instead to be human – to feel, to weep, to be angry – and to bring it all to the One who knows and cares.  Praying breaks down the protective barrier around our hearts and allows us to voice our pain, our fear, our anguish.  Prayer allows to get real with our grief, allowing our humanness to express itself to the only One who can truly help:

I am worn out from my groaning.

All night long I flood my bed with weeping
    and drench my couch with tears.
 My eyes grow weak with sorrow;
    they fail because of all my foes.

Away from me, all you who do evil,
    for the Lord has heard my weeping.
The Lord has heard my cry for mercy;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.  Psalm 6:6-9

But in the face of unspeakable evil, the most natural – and most important response you can have is prayer.

It is not doing nothing.  Prayer is action. 

First, we drop to our knees, in sympathy and supportive solidarity for those who are suffering, knowing we are all part of the same human fabric.  We call upon God for strength, help, hope, and healing for all.

Then we rise to our feet to address the needs – even the controversial ones – putting feet to our prayers, empowered by the One we have just spoken with in our prayers.

Jesus faced the darkest evil and most hate filled campaign ever.  With death breathing down his neck, Jesus bowed in prayer.  “Whatever you want is what I want.” That’s what he prayed.

Then he got up and entered into the fray, putting himself in the middle of the solution at great cost to himself.  And God used it for tremendous good.

Let’s pray like that.


2 thoughts on “After Vegas: Why Bother Praying?

  1. Ben, as always, you have expressed what is on my heart and in my mind. My soul is literally aching right now. Thanks for putting things in perspective, for being a voice of encouragement, for undergirding my faith when it seems so tenuous. You are a true friend, and I appreciate you. God bless you and our poor, broken,El sad world. And now I shall try to put feet to my prayers, to arise, go forth and spread light and joy.

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