Offering thoughts and prayers in the face of tragedy does not cut it anymore. From what many people see, thoughts and prayers do not change anything. Yet I know in my heart that prayer changes things. The early church community in Jerusalem thrived in large part due to its devotion to prayer. “All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. “[Acts 1:14].
Their devotion to prayer paved the way for the Holy Spirit to transform their community and send them out with courage and trust to build the church of Jesus Christ. Prayer began to change their fearful hearts and each day built trust in life after the Risen Christ ascended and they knew they were the ones with work to do. Through prayer they could better see what each was called to do even the new and scary steps.
Let us not dismiss prayer, our own and that of others. When we enter the space of prayer, whether sitting in a quiet room, doing the dishes, walking or joining in worship, we step out of ourselves. We engage our hearts and expand our seeing to take in other points of view. God enters this space to show us a new path forward.
Like the early disciples, prayer opens us to the Holy Spirit. We become better able to hear and to do God’s will. That “to do” is important because some of us will be called to action. Actually most all will be called to action inspired by prayer while a few remain in the powerful space of prayer.
God invites us into God’s healing and redeeming work. We are not God’s puppets but participants. We have free will to do God’s will or not. When mass shootings happen, pandemics, climate events, we are called to look to God’s will and do it. Prayer equips us both in discerning what we are to do and gives us the skills, strength, words to do it.
Grounded in prayer, we then step up, say “yes,” and boldly do what God is asking us to do. God takes in our sadness, fears and concerns; God engages us in the doing. Working for change is best undertaken under God’s guidance rather than purely our own wills. We may think we know best, but “God working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” [Ephesians 3:20] “Not my will but thy will be done,” Jesus prays in Gethsemane.
Let us devotedly offer our thoughts and prayers, and so guided and equipped, let us with courage and trust join God in healing this world.
With every blessing,