when you don’t know what to pray

I don’t know about you, but my heart hurts.

It’s been hurting for awhile, as tragedy after tragedy has hit our nation and our world. And it seems like just when the hurt starts to wind down into a dull ache, a fresh wound opens up and it’s painful all over again.

Tragedy is, of course, nothing new. Terrible events have always plagued our world. Just last month we mourned September 11th as the 16 year anniversary of that horrific event rolled around. Hurricanes have hit, fires have raged, people have been cursed and beaten and killed.

The other evening I was laying in bed and began my nightly prayer. I got as far as “Dear Lord” before I was stuck. Stuck on how to go on, on how to pray for a world that seems so broken and so full of hate. My mind started whirling, thinking about the world we live in and the demons its full of.

The jail in my hometown is falling apart. It’s dangerous and broken and no longer doing its job. There hasn’t been a new one, though, because people vote no. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and some have expressed their disagreement with the fund allocation or the politics. I can get that. But what I can’t get was when I started reading the comments written on discussion articles. “Let the inmates die!” they said. “They’re criminals anyway!” “Let them sleep on the street and starve, they’re felons!” they wrote. And what about the nurses and deputies that work there, you may ask? “They’re power hungry! They’re ill-equipped! And they knew what they were getting into when they took that job.” the comments state.

How do you start to pray for that?

A nation is divided into ‘kneelers’ and ‘standers’ and those who complain we need to ‘just stick to the sports’. Shirts are made and articles are written, jerseys are burnt or players are supported. Respect is questioned and hate is heightened.

How do you pray for that?

Storms raged, people drowned and burnt, seniors trapped in water, babies hungry, and families cold and without power.

How do you pray for that?

An entire profession is questioned and dismissed, officers hated by strangers and their families wished dead by people they’ve never met. Suddenly doctors and accountants behind their keyboards are experts on laws and police practices and how things “should” have been done.

How do you pray for that?

Protests and rallies have sprung up all over our country, where hateful words have flown, fists have been swung, and people have been attacked and killed, for differences of opinions and politics and religions and skin colors. Things have been said that echo opinions of the 1920’s even though it’s the 21st century and “we’ve evolved from all of that.”

How do you even begin to pray for that?

That night, while I was lying in bed, I found myself at a complete loss of words. I couldn’t form real thoughts, or sentences, or prayers. All that came to my mind was one word, one name: Jesus.

While people have hated, God has loved. That name has calmed seas and mended hearts, it’s fed the hungry and comforted the broken.

While my heart and my mind have been so overwhelmed and bogged down with sadness and anger and disbelief, that name has been reminding me to also be full of love and hope. “Take heart!” that name says, “for I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33].

And through these tragedies people have sent aid and lent helping hands. People have donated and sacrificed and prayed. Strangers have risked their lives for their neighbor, the concert goer beside them, the child they don’t know that lives down the street. First responders have ran in when everyone else has ran out, without thoughts of race or gender or political beliefs. Humans have started to come together to help each other and put their foot down and say “enough is enough”.

Take heart, that says to me, for we WILL overcome this broken world.

“When you don’t know what to say, just say Jesus.
There is power in the name, the name of Jesus.
If the words won’t come, cause you’re too afraid to pray.
Just say Jesus.”
[Just Say Jesus by 7eventh Time Down]

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