A term called “prayer shaming” arose after the terrorist shooting in San Bernardino in 2015. Its users intend it as a rebuke to those who offer prayers after a massacre but will not take any political steps, such as new gun laws, to stop future attacks. One paper blared the headline: “God Isn’t Fixing This,” to emphasize that prayer is a way that people hide without doing anything of substance. In prayer shaming, some crudely mock and curse out those who state the importance of prayer after horrible tragedies. People are saying in effect, “Don’t pray, do something! Prayers are useless and did nothing to stop the tragedy so why pray when you can make a law to prevent the tragedy from happening again?”
After the Texas church shooting, we see this term emerging again. When Speaker of the House Paul Ryan asked for prayer, someone tweeted in response, “The murdered victims were in a church. If prayers did anything, they’d still be alive, you worthless sack…”
Nevertheless, prayer is doing something, even the best thing. We shouldn’t be shamed from engaging in the greatest privilege we have: “to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Let me remind you of the importance to pray in times of horrible tragedy.
Prayer is the first response to any trial. Jesus taught us, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.” Luke 18:1. Prayer helps those in the midst of great sorrow to endure.
Prayer is the continual response to any trial. We are commanded to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Prayer is the best response to any trial, for Jesus also said that “one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). That good part was to sit at His feet in worship, which is even better than being busy in service.
Prayer is the obedient response for we are commanded to pray for “all men; for kings and for all that are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Many people need prayer during tragedy. The families of the victims, who must live with the unbearable loss of loved ones, need our prayer. Those who are injured and healing while facing surgeries need our prayer. The first responders, who saw the unforgettable tragedy and have to live with those images for the rest of their lives, need our prayer. Police and government officials, who piece together what happened and why to bring about justice, as well as bring comfort to hurting communities, need our prayer. Our government leaders, who must discern what new laws to enact, need our prayer. Doctors and nurses, who care for the injured and labor to bring them back to health, need our prayer.
Finally, but not least of all, prayer is the best personal response to trial that makes no human sense. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). In every trial, you need to pray to Him, releasing your entire anxious load upon Jesus who has compassion on all.
Christians, who believe Jesus is risen and seated at the Father’s right hand and lives to ever pray for us, believe in prayer. Those who do not believe in Jesus do not believe in prayer. Let’s never let unbelievers shame us from prayer!