Beyond Thoughts and Prayers

MASS SHOOTINGS ARE IN THE NEWS AGAIN and I hate that I have to write this article. Anticipate more controversy of what could have been done, what should have been done. Also, expect those who offer their thoughts and prayers to be shamed once again.

CNN reported that the phrase “thoughts and prayers” had reached

“semantic satiation, the phenomenon in which a word or phrase is repeated so often it loses its meaning.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said that thoughts and prayers after a shooting “should be outlawed…Usually, it’s a throwaway line by a staffer who knocks off some script, some product, some wordage for somebody political to make it sound like they give a damn.”

I can understand that sending good thoughts during a time of crisis mean nothing, but Scripture says prayer is “powerful and effective.” (James 5:16) Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7) The implication is that we are to continuously ask, seek and knock.

Many things are blamed for these—dare I say?— now commonplace holocausts. One friend posted: “Another day in America and another day where I come home to the news of another mad gunman slaughtering people. The sad thing is, it’s barely news at this point. It’s become as common as rain in the forecast.”

Roxanne Gay, writing for the NY Times said,

“The script following these shootings is too familiar—flags at half-staff, hollow words of sympathy—but what chills me is the relatively calm eloquence of the survivors speaking to reporters. How they don’t seem particularly surprised to have survived a mass shooting. That they are able, in the immediate aftermath of trauma, to articulate their experiences. They can do this because they have seen it done.”

We’ve all seen it done, way too many times before. That’s why we must pray. Psalm 37 says, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Perhaps you’re not convinced that prayer is powerful or effective, then how about action? Display Ten Commandments monuments in every public square, like those in Alabama voted to do. 71.6% of “Alabama voters overwhelmingly supported an amendment to the state’s 1901 Constitution authorizing public displays of the Ten Commandments,” wrote John Sharp of

“The people we’re hearing from are super-excited to have this opportunity to go down in history as the first state to acknowledge that we want God, that is, the Christian God, in their Constitution,” said Dean Young, the chief advocate for the amendment. “This is the first time in the history of the country that a state has taken such a stand in acknowledging the God of the Old and New Testament.” Young is confident that this measure will lead to more public displays of God’s Moral Law throughout the country.”

The Ten Commandments are important because they contain the 6th Commandment: “You Shall Not Murder.” The American Family Association, a Christian group explained,

“While the country is discussing gun control laws, we think people should also be reminded that innocent human life is precious. Murder is against the law in every state, and these four words also emphasize that it’s morally wrong.”

Not only that, but the other nine remind us of the laws our country was founded upon, the principles Americans used as our moral compass, but seem to have forgotten.

Frankly, the real problem is not guns, it’s me. Yes, me…and you, too. If guns were outlawed, we’d just pick up something else to use as a weapon. Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that according to the FBI, more people are killed each year with clubs and hammers than with rifles. This statement was rated as TRUE by the liberal fact-checking organization PolitiFact.

Of course, it’s true. The Bible says “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) If every gun was banned, that ugly old human heart would still beat a murderous cadence.

Even ex-President Obama “urg[ed] education, mental health and other measures to reduce gun violence.”

Here’s yet another one of those “other measures”: As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ we need to live for Him authentically and lovingly, sharing of a Savior who changes hearts and lives, then all violence will end forever. The Prince of Peace can do it.

Also, regardless of the nay-sayers and prayer-shamers, we will still pray. Pray that God stays the hand of the enemy in this land. Pray that he will open the eyes of those who do not know God. Pray that more people would believe the Christian message and turn from their wicked ways. Especially pray that we are Christ-like in all we do and say, remembering on Monday what we learned on Sunday.

Food for thought. Pray about it.

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