When we hear about random acts of violence, like we recently saw in Colorado, our first response is usually to pray away the pain or pray that this will never happen again.
But how can we pray beyond the shock, beyond the most obvious needs, for the issues of the kingdom. Below are prayer points that were originally written the morning after the September 15, 1999 church shooting at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Once again, as a nation, from a human perspective we are unable to make sense of the horrific situation we are in. We hope that they will act as a springboard for your own prayer in the wake of tragedies that defy human understanding and are becoming more frequent.
- Though it is difficult, start with praise. Focus on God’s character.
- Praise God that He is sovereign, that He has ultimate control over all, and that nothing takes Him by surprise (Is. 45:5-7)
- Ask God to use this situation to bring unprecedented spiritual openness to people affected by the tragedy, and ask Him to show this face to them.
- Ask God to bless the ministry that will be thrust upon the church or community affected by the tragedy. Ask Him to empower them with a powerful witness when they are called upon to speak about or reflect on the situation.
- Ask God to stand against the enemy’s attempts to make families experience unresolved anger or guilt over the loss of loved ones.
- Ask God to focus the minds of public officials on the need for prayer and to provide people who will continue to pray for the situation.
- Ask God to equip leaders who will be called upon to mentor and minister to people in the aftermath of the tragedy (Heb. 13:20-21).
- Ask God- for yourself and others- for passion and love for Christ that drive out fear (I John 4:18).
- Thank God that the enemy has made a tactical error, since martyrdom and persecution have always strengthened the church, and that God will use for good what Satan has intended for harm (Gen.50: 20-21).
- Thank God for the people who will be drawn to seek God’s face because the overwhelming nature of the tragedy leaves them nowhere else to turn (John 2:1-9).
- Thank God for a vivid reminder of your own mortality and vulnerability, asking Him to prepare your heart and spirit for a faithful response when you are faced with tragedy.
Sandra Higley, Lani Hinkle. ‘Praying for Senseless Tragedies,’ Pray!, Nov./ Dec. 1999