The following article is an opinion piece by the author and represents the views of only the author and not necessarily those of AllOnGeorgia.
Thoughts and Prayers
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble – Psalm 46:1
There seems to be some confusion about what it is “thoughts and prayers” really means. There are those who think that we as believers pray that nothing bad ever happens. This is wrong. We know that bad things will happen. Bad things have happened since the dawn of time. As long as there have been people on this earth, bad things have happened, and that will continue to be true. The fact is, we don’t pray that bad things never happen. We pray for things like strength, courage, wisdom, and peace, to endure those things when they inevitably do happen. Our hope lies in the fact that we know, even in an incident like we saw last week in Texas, that our eternity is secure if we are in Christ. So if we don’t survive, or if we lose a loved one, especially on account of our faith, we know that we will close our eyes for the final time in this life, and open in them in the presence of our Lord and Savior.
There are plenty of talking heads in the media who are trying to ride the fence on this issue. Those like Don Lemon saying things like, “Thoughts and prayers are important, but our leaders need to take action.” Then he’d go on to basically deem prayers useless because they did not stop the shooting, and qualify his statements by saying that he was raised in a religious household. This demonstrates that in spite of all that, he still has a poor understanding of the purpose of prayer. Again, Christians are not under the mistaken impression that prayers will stop bad and evil things from happening. Our prayers are that God help us through those times. Anybody that believes otherwise has either never read, or chooses not to acknowledge the 23rd Psalm.
Then we’ve got those that take a more extreme, even anti-God/prayer approach. Keith Olberman thinks that we shove our prayers up our… Well, you get the picture. Wil Wheaton tweeted “If prayers did anything they’d still be alive!” Many others took the same vitriolic stance. My intention here is not to vilify these people, only to use their words as an illustration that some have the wrong idea about the reason we pray. I pray that they all find peace with God. Their words don’t even anger me. They sadden me, because what I hear when I read these things is: Conviction. People who talk this way are afraid of God, and they’d rather everyone just forget about him, instead of invoking His name when disaster strikes. They’d rather worship themselves, or government, or any other entity besides the one that would ask them to deny themselves. If only they knew the peace that comes with his presence.
There are literally hundreds, of verses in the Bible that either mention, or are an example of prayer. One of my favorites is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Words like “always,” “without ceasing,” and “in all circumstances,” remind us that even in bad times we must pray. Surely if we must do all these things, at all times, God will also hear our prayers at all times. We don’t pray that bad things don’t happen. We just know that our God will get us through. Which is to say that Christians aren’t the creampuff, pie in the sky, believers that we are often made out to be. We know that evil has been, still is, and will continue to be. We know that bad things will happen, they’ll happen to us, and they may happen to us because of our faith. We just aren’t afraid, because we know that God knows our thoughts, and he hears our prayers, and he will give us what we need to endure, or call us home to receive our eternal reward. Fact is, when we pray, it is only to Almighty God himself, so it doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks of our prayers anyway.
Danny Burnham Religion Contributor